|Silverbacks Top MontrealFriday April 25, 2008|
ATLANTA—The Silverbacks proved that last year's playoff run was no fluke, picking up three precious points Friday night against league powerhouse Montreal Impact. Mac Kandji, David Hayes, and Jason McLaughlin tallied for the Silverbacks in the thrilling 3-2 win at Silverbacks Park.
(Photo Capions: Photo One: Goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh made several early spectacular saves to keep the Silverbacks in match. Photo Two: Silverback players mob Mac Kandji after he opened up the night's scoring with a remarkable 50-yard individual effort. Photo Three: Jerson Monteiro (23) earned a start after scoring in his debut last week. Photos by Elaine Carroll)
"This was a huge win for us," said Silverbacks head coach Jason Smith. "We're still just coming together as a team. Any time you can beat a team like Montreal, it's a big win. To make it our first win of the season, that's huge."
The Silverbacks drew Carolina at Silverbacks Park last Saturday 1-1 to open league play.
For the second week in a row the Silverbacks came out of the gate hesitant, allowing the visitors the run of play in the opening minutes of the nationally televised match. Montreal nearly got on the score sheet in only the first minute of play, were it not for the early match heroics of Silverbacks' goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh, who was stretched to parry away a driven shot from Steffano Pesoli.
After a flurry of cornerkicks, Montreal nearly found themselves on the score sheet again in the 18th minute off a Leonardo Di Lorenzo header. Again McIntosh was at full stretch to keep the score level, again parrying away the ball for a corner kick.
The Silverbacks initially failed to clear the resulting corner kick. With McIntosh beaten, Ansu Toure—making his Silverbacks debut after missing last week's fixture due to a suspension—cleared the ball off the line. Toure's clear found its way to the feet of Kandji near midfield. Kandji beat two players at full speed and angled in on goal, coolly slotting the ball past a stranded Andrew Webber to give the Silverbacks the lead—and the club's first collective breath of the match. The goal was Kandi's first of the season.
"I was hungry to get a goal," Kandji said. "I woke up this morning thinking I needed to get a goal and went out there and got it."
Down a goal, Montreal kept up the pressure. Twice McIntosh was forced to save at full stretch. The pressure proved too much in the 32nd minute when Patrick Leduc's first time blast off a partially cleared ball beat McIntosh to the far post, sending the two teams into the dressing room level at one.
The Silverbacks took to the field in more of an attacking posture, which paid off. In the 51st minute Toure drew a foul 20 yards from goal. The resulting free kick was cleared to Rodrigo Rios, who laid the ball of to an overlapping Hayes. Hayes blew past one defender and slid the ball off the inside of the far post.
After the go-ahead goal, the Silverbacks controlled the run of play. In the 70th minute Toure found himself alone on the left flank with numerous targets inside the penalty area, looping the ball to McLaughlin on the far post. McLaughlin out-jumped his marker and smacked the ball back towards the far post past a stranded Webber for his first of the season.
"Ansu played a great ball across," McLaughlin said. "There were two of us in there. It came to me. You can't ask for a better ball."
Down two goal, Montreal coach Nick Di Santis made several offensive moves. In the 83rd minute Charles Gbeke pounced on a short pass from Leduc inside the six-yard box, slamming the ball past McIntosh to pull the Impact within one.
Ansu Toure, who made his Silverbacks debut Friday after sitting out last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Carolina due to a red card suspension from last season, had a hand in all three Silverbacks' goals: his goal-saving clearance off the line in the 19th minute found its way to Mac Kandji, who steamrolled his way to open scoring on the night. David Hayse's goal was set up off a free kick earned by Toure. And Toure played a perfectly weighted cross to Jason McLaughlin—earning him an assist—who nodded in the team's third goal.
Firsts, But By No Means the Last
Kandji, Hayes, and McLaughlin's goals were each of their firsts this season. Jerson Monteiro accounted for the club's only goal in the season opening 1-1 draw last Saturday versus Carolina.
Toure could have very easily claimed a goal of his own. He calmly watched as Hayes' goal rolled towards the far post, bounce off it, and across the line, making sure it did, in fact go in.
Hayes' goal celebration cost him a yellow card. As soon as the ball cleared the goal line he raced across the field towards the Silverbacks bench, ripping off his shirt halfway there. FIFA rules clearly state any player removing their shirt are to be automatically issued a caution.
By the Numbers
The Silverbacks are now 3-10-1 all-time versus Montreal. All three wins and the draw have come under current head coach Jason Smith.
Next, On FSC
Friday's game was Fox Soccer Channel's season opener for USL-1 telecasts. The Silverbacks will feature in three more nationally televised matches: next Friday, May 2 in a 2007 championship rematch versus Seattle, May 16 versus Minnesota, and June 6 versus Puerto Rico. All four of the Silverbacks' televised matches are played at Silverbacks Park.
Home Sweet Home
Last year's leading Warren Ukah was inserted into the game with 25 minutes remaining in the second half after joining the club from a loan spell with MISL club Milwaukee Thursday. Beginning next week, the club will also have the services of 2007 MVP Scott Buete, on loan to MISL club Baltimore Blast. The Blast play Monterrey in the playoff finale Sunday.
The Silverbacks are back in action next Friday hosting Seattle in a rematch of the 2007 championship match. The Silverbacks fell to the Sounders 4-0 in the final. The match will be televised on FSC. Kick off is set for 7:55.
Mac Kandji on the need to score:
“I was hungry to get the goal. I woke up this morning thinking that I needed to get a goal and went out there and got it.”
Reigning USL-1 Defender of the Year David Hayes on scoring the game winner:
“It felt good to get that first goal out of the way. It feels good no matter how I contribute, whether it's on defense or offense.”
Coach Jason Smith on the win:
"This was a huge win for us. We're still just coming together as a team. Any time you can beat a team like Montreal, it's a big win. To make it our first win of the season, that's huge. Hopefully we can carry this win into the next game.”
Smith on the club's first half play:
“We let them come to us. I think we were a little intimidated by them. At halftime we talked about the effort, that we needed to quit hiding. The second half we stayed with a four-four-two, and things went well for us.”
Jason McLaughlin on the win:
“It feels great to win against a team as good as Montreal.”
McLaughlin on his goal:
“Ansu played a great ball across. There were two of us in there. It came to me. You can't ask for a better ball.
McLaughlin on his goal celebration:
“I'm not going to be ripping my shirt off any time soon.”
Ryan McIntosh, Justin Moore (Josh Bolton 76), David Hayes, Matt Bobo, Zach Kirby (Martyn Lancaster 80), Jason McLaughlin (Chris Mahaffey 88), Rodrigo Rios (Greg Chevalier 85), Tony McManus, Ansu Toure, Jerson Monteiro (Warren Ukah 65), Mac Kandji.
Andrew Webber, Nevio Pizzolitto (Simon Gatti 25), Stefano Pesoli, Gabriel Gervais, Adam Braz (Charles Gbeke 75), Patrick Leduc, David Testo (Pato Aguilera 86), Leonardo Di Lorenzo, Joey Gjertsen (Mauro Biello 75), Severino Jefferson (Dwight Barnett 75), Roberto Brown.
MON—Roberto Brown (Caution) 77
MON—Gabriel Gervais Caution 80
ATL—David Hayes (Caution) 52
MON—Severino Jefferson (Caution) 55
ATL—Mac Kandji (Caution) 82