The Atlanta Silverbacks will look to clinch a playoff berth when they take on the league-leading Seattle Sounders this Wednesday, August 22 at 10:00PM at Qwest Field. The Silverbacks tied the Sounders 0-0 in their meeting earlier in the year.
A win for the Silverbacks will secure their first playoff berth since 2002 when they exited the postseason in the first round. The ‘Backs currently sit in fifth place in the USL First Division with 36 points, a good position to secure one of the eight spots in the postseason.
Atlanta (10-7-6) has been on a good run recently by going undefeated in their last five games played. The ‘Backs are in the middle of a four-game road trip and will finish the season with six of seven games away from home. Macoumba Kandji has been a boost for the team since his addition four games ago. After earning Player of the Week honors, Kandji recently earned the Goal of the Week for his goal against Puerto Rico – CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE GOAL. With USL points leader Daniel Antoniuk and the return of Machel Millwood, the ‘Backs have speed and proven goal scorers to power the offense.
On the other side of the field, the Silverbacks’ defense has allowed just two goals in the last five games, one of which came on a penalty kick. Anchoring the unit over the past two years has been the duo of Matt Bobo and David Hayes. Bobo has now played in 51 consecutive USL-1 games (4,590+ minutes) without stepping off the field, a remarkable feat. Today, he was named to the USL Team of the Week for the first time this season. Hayes has shown his offensive prowess by netting six goals on the year, the most of any defender by far. Goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh has been a solid starter for the club and improved his GAA to 0.545 by delivering six shutouts in just 10 games.
This past Friday, the ‘Backs tied the Carolina RailHawks 0-0 at SAS Stadium in Cary, NC to bring the season series to 1-1-2. Although Atlanta earned a point on the road, it was at the cost of speedy midfielder Rafique Hassim, who suffered a knee injury. The past three matches between the rivals have seen 17 yellow cards, an ejection, and over 80 fouls.
Seattle (12-5-6) has been on a torrid run, losing just one game in their last 15 played and compiling an impressive 11-1-3 record during that stretch. The Sounders are solid throughout the lineup with talented forwards, midfielders, and defense. Leading the way offensively have been Roger Levesque and Sebastien Le Toux, who have scored six goals apiece. Captain Leighton O’Brien, the league’s 2003 MVP, will direct the midfield. Midfielder Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar has proven to be perhaps the best and most consistent setup-man in the league with 24 assists over the past three seasons.
The Sounders’ defense, meanwhile, has allowed just three goals in their last seven home matches. Goalkeeper Chris Eylander earned his tenth shutout of the year and has the most wins (10) and saves (93) in the league.
Along with their success in the USL, the Sounders have also performed well at the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this year – in their last two rounds, Seattle has outscored MLS opposition 8-1 to advance to the semifinals of the tournament. Their victories came against Chivas USA (3-1) and the Colorado Rapids (5-0). The Sounders will next play FC Dallas to earn a spot in the title match.
Atlanta will remain on the road to play the Minnesota Thunder on Saturday, August 25 before returning home to host the Puerto Rico Islanders in the final regular season home match of 2007 on September 1.
For more information, please call 404-969-4900 or visit www.atlantasilverbacks.com.