ATLANTA—The Atlanta Silverbacks earned three valuable points in the league standings, topping the Puerto Rico Islanders 3-1 Friday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. Ansu Toure had a goal sandwiched by a pair of Mac Kandji goals in the win.
(Photo Caption: Mac Kandji and Ansu Toure combined for three goals on the night. Photo by Elaine Carroll)
“I think the difference tonight was discipline,” said head coach Jason Smith. “We played much more discipline game than we have been, and it showed in the result. Puerto Rico is a good team. Better than their record shows. We did well to limit their chances, and, for the most part finished the chances we had.”
After playing three consecutive league draws including a 1-1 home result versus Puerto Rico two weeks ago, the Silverbacks entered the match with an offensive posture. Smith opted to go with a front line of Toure and Kandji—both of whom had more often featured on the flanks.
But it was Puerto Rico who put a scare into the Silverback faithful in the ninth minute Cristian Arrieta pounced on a partially cleared ball from a difficult angle and smashed his shot into the side netting.
The Silverbacks responded four minutes later. Kandji—whose speed caused considerable problems for the Islander back line all night—out paced his marker, running onto a long ball from David Hayes. Kandji touched the ball around a retreating defender, drawing out Islander goalkeeper Bill Gaudette, before finishing neatly inside the near post.
The lead was the first the Silverbacks have enjoyed since its May 31 1-0 win versus Carolina in which the Silverbacks scored in the 90th minute.
The lead, however, proved to be tenuous. Three minutes after the Silverbacks took the lead Puerto Rico's Jonathan Steele drilled a 25-yard free kick off the woodwork. The Silverbacks could not immediately clear the rebound. Finally goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh was able to grab the loose ball.
Through the half hour mark, both teams fought to assert themselves on the run of play. The momentum swung in the Silverbacks favor in the 32nd minute when Toure doubled the score from close range. Jason McLaughlin began things on the right flank, sending a searching ball into Kandji, who did well to control it while at full speed and put it into Toure's path for an easy finish. The goal was Toure's third on the season.
The Islanders were able to win back a goal just before halftime. Christian Arrieta beat McIntosh to a driven Steele corner kick to pull the Islanders within one.
The Silverbacks continued its offensive pressure entering the second half. On several times Kandji and Toure combined well with overlapping midfielders, but could not put the game away until the 61st minute mark when Kandji again out-paced his marker, running onto a lovely ball played deep from Justin Moore. Kandji touched the ball around a charging Gaudette, beat the last retreating defender, and slotted the ball home for his second on the night.
The Islanders, to its credit, did not give up. Matt Bobo's sliding block on a shot from inside the penalty area saved an almost sure goal, and McIntosh made several necessary saves to keep the Islanders at one.
The win moves the Silverbacks to 4-3-5 (17 points) on the season.
Though both have been used as forwards during the season, Saturday was the first time Ansu Toure and Mac Kandji both featured up front together.
Saturday marked David Hayes' 101 appearance for the Silverbacks.
Lucky Number Three
The Silverbacks score three goals in three out of the last four games against the Islanders, dating back to last year. The only time the Silverbacks didn't score three goals—two weeks ago at Silverbacks Park—the two clubs drew 1-1.
Next Up: Round Two
The Silverbacks travel to Miami on Monday for its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup second round fixture versus Miami F.C. The Silverbacks topped PLD side Austin Aztex in penalty kicks to advance to the second round.
Next Up: Home Again
The Silverbacks return to Silverbacks Park next Saturday night to face the Portland Timbers. The two clubs played to a heated 2-2 draw two weeks ago at Portland. Kickoff is at 7:55.
Ryan McIntosh, Justin Moore (Martyn Lancaster 90), David Hayes, Matt Bobo, Josh Bolton, Scott Buete, Jason McLaughlin, Rodrigo Rios (Chris Mahaffey 81), Tony McManus, Ansu Toure (Blake Camp 79), Mac Kandji (Jerson Montiero 87).
Puerto Rico Islanders:
Bill Gaudette, Nigel Henry, Noah Delgado, Edwin Miranda, Peter Villegas (Andres Cabrero 73), Taiwo Atieno, Daniel Ojeda (Alberto Delgado 77), Jonathan Steele, Cristian Arrieta, Kendal Jagdeosingh (Josh Hansen 63), John Krause.
ATL—Kandji (Hayes) 13
ATL—Toure (Kandji) 32
PRI—Arrieta (Steele) 43
ATL—Kandji (Moore) 6
PRI—N. Delgado (caution) 34
PRI—Ojeda (caution) 58
ATL—Kandji (caution) 58