The Silverbacks continued their race for the title tonight against the Portland Timbers. The Silverbacks (13-9-8) tied the Timbers (15-6-9) 1-1 in tonight’s USL First Division semi-final match at REMAX Greater Atlanta Stadium
The action started early with a couple of good combinations between Machel Millwood and captain Rodrigo Rios. Rios was able to play Millwood into the box where he hit a low shot to the back post, a quality chance on goal, but the Silverbacks were unable to capitalize. Just minutes later, in the 8th minute, the Silverbacks had a cross from David Hayes and Martin Lancaster was able to get his head on it, but the chance was blocked by the shoulder of a Timbers defender and cleared it out. The action continued minutes later at the opposite end with a free kick just outside the box taken by Andrew Gregor of the Timbers. The shot to the upper corner forced Silverbacks goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh to make a great save.
The chances continued throughout the first half with the play going back and forth, and both teams showing their offensive threat. In the 40th minute, Macoumba Kandji was able to beat a player at the corner of the box and was able to dribble in, but Timbers goalkeeper Josh Wisks came out and made a save at the near post.
It took until the 43rd minute for the Silverbacks to finally capitalize off a fast break between Warren Ukah and Millwood. Millwood flicked a long ball into Ukah, who was able to settle the ball, turn and play Millwood in at the end line. Millwood stretched out to slot the ball back to Ukah who finished it at the top of the six.
The excitement continued with a counter from the Timbers in the final minutes of the half. Luke Kreamalmeyer dribbled into the half and created a quick give and go to get off a quick shot at the top of the box, again McIntosh had to make a great save to keep the lead going into halftime.
The Timbers came out early in the second half with a ball over the top of the Silverbacks defense. After a miscommunication, the ball bounced and went in behind the back line where Bryan Jordan was able to settle the ball and touch it past McIntosh as he was coming out and pass the ball in for a goal.
The action didn’t stop as the Silverbacks had their chances, one of which was a service into Kandji from Angel Rivillo. Macoumba took a touch to the endline and was able to get a cross to the far post with the Backs crashing the next, the ball was just overrun by the attack. Minutes later in the 77th minute, Macoumba got in again behind the defense and settled the ball off of his head, only to get a quick touch on it for another opportunity on goal. The chances continued in the 83rd minute when Macoumba got another cross off, this time is was just beyond the reach of Wicks and Millwood got a shot off that hit the inside of the crossbar and dove on by Wicks. With two free kicks and a corner in the final minutes, the Silverbacks were unable to get a goal for the win.
With a number of chances, tonight’s game proved to be an exciting match at both ends. The contest will continue in the second match, in the two-game aggregate series, that will take place this Sunday, September 23rd at 8:00pm at PGE Park in Portland, Oregon. Sunday’s game will be broadcast live nationally on the Fox Soccer Channel.