The Atlanta Silverbacks returned to Atlanta on Monday after downing Miami FC on Sunday (08.12.07) by a score of 3-1. The Silverbacks racked up six goals and six points over the weekend with a 3-0 home win over Puerto Rico and the 3-1 win in Miami. Atlanta has now collected three straight victories and is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games played. The ‘Backs currently sit in fourth place in the USL standings with 35 points.
“The team went into the last three games understanding that we were in a must-win situation,” commented Head Coach Jason Smith. “The return of Machel Millwood and the introduction of Macoumba Kandji came at the right time. Offensively we have been very dynamic and our defense has continued to play strong as well.”
Atlanta (10-7-5) has seen an offensive surge over the past three games by recording eight goals. Defender David Hayes has scored three goals in the past three games; he opened scoring off a free-kick in Miami, and buried penalty kicks against both Charleston and Puerto Rico. Macoumba Kandji scored two goals over the weekend, including the game-winner in Miami. Kandji earned Player of the Week honors today for his USL First Division play over the weekend. Kandji is the second Silverback to earn this honor in the 2007 season – Daniel Antoniuk also won the award in the first week of the season, while 15 other weeks have seen Atlanta players earn Team of the Week honors. Antoniuk continues to lead the league in both points (23) and assists (9).
The next challenge for Atlanta will be rivals Carolina RailHawks this Friday, August 17 in the final Southern Derby Cup match. While Carolina (5-10-7) has won just one game in their last ten matches, the RailHawks always present a challenge for Atlanta. The ‘Backs are 1-1-1 against Carolina this year, coming in three consecutive matches earlier in the year. The mystifying RailHawks have done well in the U.S. Open Cup this year though – after defeating the defending U.S. Open Cup Champion Chicago Fire of the MLS and the Richmond Kickers of the USL-2, Carolina finds themselves in the semifinals of the tournament against the New England Revolution, which will be played on September 4th.
In their inaugural season as a franchise, Carolina will rely on veterans Kupono Low and Chris Carrieri to lead the effort against the ‘Backs. Low leads the RailHawks in scoring on the year, with five goals and three assists. Carrieri was drafted as the first overall pick in the 2001 MLS SuperDraft and led the nation in scoring while at the University of North Carolina. Goalkeeper Chris McClellan has been steady all year by posting a 1.000 GAA, and team captain Frankie Sanfilippo will anchor the defense for the RailHawks.
The game is sure to be intense – in the last two contests between Atlanta and Carolina, the teams have combined for 60 fouls, 11 yellow cards, and one red card. Atlanta takes on the RailHawks this Friday, August 17th at 7:30 PM at SAS Soccer Stadium in Cary, NC in the first of four consecutive away games for the ‘Backs. Atlanta returns home on September 1st to take on the Puerto Rico Islanders in their final home match of the regular season.
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