|Silverbacks Top Carolina With Last-Minute Kandji Free KickSunday June 1, 2008|
ATLANTA—The Atlanta Silverbacks picked up three valuable points Saturday night, topping the previously unbeaten Carolina RailHawks 1-0 at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. Mac Kandji scored on a 90th minute free kick to give the Silverbacks the win.
(Photo Caption: Mac Kandji scored a last-minute free kick to give the Silverbacks the win over Carolina. Photo by Ron Holt)
“I've been waiting for an opportunity like that all season,” Kandji said. “I'm just glad I was able to make the most of it.”
Kandji's goal came off a 90th minute free kick after the RailHawks' Richard Perdomo fouled substitute Rodrigo Rios five yards outside of the penalty area, just right of the goal. Kandji stepped up and hit a low, curling shot that glanced off the outside of the Carolina wall and bounced to the far post past a diving Chris McClellan.
“I was going for the near post,” said Kandji, who picked up his second goal on the season. “But a goal is a goal.”
The injury time goal was the climax of a back and forth game between two teams very much playing for the win. The Silverbacks had dropped two straight, and needed to get back on track. The RailHawks were looking to remain unbeaten. The results of the clubs' previous two meetings were both draws: 1-1 to open the season at Silverbacks Park, and 2-2 at WakeMed Park three weeks later.
“We needed this win,” said head coach Jason Smith. “All season we have been giving up some questionable goals. That didn't happen tonight. I'm very happy with the result, and the way we played tonight.”
From the opening whistle the Silverbacks fought to set the pace of the match, pumping balls forward for Jason McLaughlin and Jerson Monteiro. In the 18th minute Matt Bobo—wearing the captain's armband for the first time this season—nearly connected with McLaughlin. Carolina defender Mauricio Segovia was just able to push the ball back to McClellan before McLaughlin could have a swipe at it.
A minute later it was Monteiro—featuring for the second time this season—who forced McClellan to save bravely at his feet.
The Silverbacks' best chance of the half came in the 24th minute when Kandji—who was dangerous all night, switching sides of the field frequently with Ansu Toure—made Frankie Sanfillippo look silly in the corner, beating him badly off the dribble before slamming his shot from an acute angle in to the side netting.
The RailHawks nearly got on the score sheet in the 30th minute when Phillip Long blasted a knuckling shot that handcuffed McIntosh.
“It was knuckling so badly, all I wanted to do was knock it away,” McIntosh said.
Former Silverback Dan Antoniuk slammed back the rebound from close range, and would have been a sure goal were it not for a diving McIntosh, who managed to get enough behind the ball to force it over the crossbar.
After losing control of the match in the final 20 minutes of the first half, a refocused Silverbacks side began putting the pressure on the wilting RailHawks, who had played at home on Wednesday night. Kandji forced McClellan to ground off a shot in the 49th minute, giving up a rebound that was collected by the Silverbacks and sent back into the middle. Monteiro, out-jumping his marker was robbed by a flying McClellan, who tipped the ball to safety.
The Silverbacks continued to mount pressure in the second half. Matt Bobo was half a step late for a close range shot and missed just wide in the 74th minute, and McLaughlin nearly nodded the Silverbacks into the lead three minutes later off a perfectly weighted cross from David Hayes. Again it was McClellan, saving spectacularly.
Then, with only time remaining on the referee's watch, it was Kandji, stepping up to take the well-won free kick by Rios.
Desperately, the RailHawks pushed everything forward with no time left, and nearly leveled the score after McIntosh was held while trying to play the ball, forcing him to bat it away. Josh Bolton, who featured for the second time since joining the club, blasted the ball off the line to preserve the clean sheet—the first for McIntosh and the Silverbacks on the season.
The win moved the Silverbacks to 3-3-2 on the season.
The shut out was McIntosh's first on the season.
Coming into the match, the RailHawks were unbeaten, accumulating three wins and four draws—two of which came against the Silverbacks.
Dan Antoniuk featured for the second time against his former club. In the season opener at Silverbacks Park, he came on as a substitute. At Carolina three weeks later, he featured and scored for Carolina.
Mac Kandji's goal was his second on the season.
More than Three
Saturday's win over the RailHawks was twice as valuable, as it also was a Southern Derby match. The Silverbacks now lead the three-team field with four points. Charleston is second with three, which it picked up last weekend in its 2-0 win over the Silverbacks. Carolina has one point, earned from the 2-2 draw with the Silverbacks at Carolina.
The Silverbacks take on the Puerto Rico Islanders Friday night at Silverbacks Park on Fox Soccer Channel. Kick off is at 7:55.
Ryan McIntosh, Justin Moore (Martyn Lancaster 78), David Hayes, Matt Bobo, Josh Bolton, Scott Buete, Tony McManus, Ansu Toure, Mac Kandji (Greg Chevalier 90), Jason McLaughlin, Jerson Monteiro (Rodrigo Rios 60).
Chris McClellan, Frankie Sanfilippo, Mauricio Segovia, David Stokes, Chris Lemons, Martin Nuñez (Richard Perdomo 82) , Kupono Low, Joey Worthen (Phillip Long 8), Steven Curfman (Santiago Fusilier 70), Dan Antoniuk, Connally Edozien.
CAR—Fusilier (caution) 86