ATLANTA, GA – The Atlanta Silverbacks came from a goal down to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 tonight at Atlanta Silverbacks Park in the first of three meetings between the clubs. Atlanta has now won three straight games, vaulting them from eighth to fourth in the USL-1 standings.
The game got off to a slow start, as both teams were weary after playing in Sunday fixtures. Noticeably missing from the match were the anchors for both teams defenses. Whitecap center back Omar Jarun was serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation while Atlanta defender Matt Bobo was out with an undisclosed injury.
(Photo Caption: Atlanta midfielder Tony McManus celebrates his equalizing goal against the league-leading Vancouver Whitecaps. Photo by Ron Holt.)
Vancouver would be the first to strike in the match, in the 31st minute. After a Whitecap corner flew past the Atlanta goal, defender Wesley Charles headed the ball back to the penalty spot, where Luca Bellisomo redirected the ball with a perfect header into the side netting, past Atlanta goalkeeper Felipe Quintero.
Atlanta would answer right back in the 37th minute. After a beautiful set of cuts and a cross on the left flank from Silverback midfielder Ansu Toure, Tony McManus collected a deflected shot from Scott Buete and slammed it past Whitecap keeper Jay Nolly for the equalizer.
“I was just trying to get in position to get a rebound or deflection as we were trying to scrap back from their goal,” McManus said following the game. “I was most worried about striking the ball cleanly. [Toure] had a great run and I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.” McManus would indeed hit it cleanly and find the back of the net.
The Whitecaps nearly retook the lead just a few minutes into the second half when forward Eduardo Sebrango hit a ball off the crossbar in the 50th minute.
However, Atlanta was quick to regain composure in the 53rd minute, when reigning Player of the Week Macoumba Kandji dribbled through a gauntlet of four Whitecap defenders, single-handedly beating them all and then slotting a ball past Nolly to put the Silverbacks on top 2-1.
The ‘Backs nearly doubled their lead in the 59th minute when Toure made a great run down the left flank before firing a shot off the woodwork. Atlanta could not collect the rebound and Vancouver was able to foil the Silverback attempt.
Yet, the Silverbacks’ efforts would not be denied; a sprinting Kandji on the right flank of the field crossed a beautiful ball into the center of the pitch to a streaking Jerson Monteiro. An unmarked Monteiro collected the ball and shot it through the legs of Nolly to put the Silverbacks up 3-1.
Vancouver would keep the match close; substituted midfielder Admir Salihovic would receive a ball from the left flank from another substitute, Vicente Arze, and fire it past Quintero in the 79th minute of play to breathe life back into the Whitecaps with the score at 3-2.
Atlanta would again fend off Vancouver efforts to maintain the lead and win a third straight game.
Earlier today, Monteiro and Kandji were both named to the USL-1 Weekly Best 11 for their efforts this past week. Monteiro added a goal and assist in a pair of wins for Atlanta, helping to down the Charleston Battery and Rochester Rhinos.
Kandji wreaked havoc upon both defenses by netting three goals in the games and drawing a penalty kick as well. The Senegalese striker was also further honored as the USL-1 Player of the Week and was recently featured in an ESPN Soccernet article that highlighted some of the USL’s biggest stars. The article is available here.
The Silverbacks will next take on the Miami FC Blues at home on Friday, August 8th at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. For tickets or more information, please call 1-866-GO-BACKS or visit www.atlantasilverbacks.com.
Week 16 – USL First Division Team of the Week:
G – Chris Eylander (Seattle Sounders)
D – Nelson Akwari (Charleston Battery)
D – Cristian Arrieta (Puerto Rico Islanders)
D – Omar Jarun (Vancouver Whitecaps)
M – Josh Gardner (Seattle Sounders)
M – Jonathan Steele (Puerto Rico Islanders)
M – Andrew Gregor (Rochester Rhinos)
M – Osvaldo Alonso (Charleston Battery)
F – Bryan Jordan (Portland Timbers)
F – Macoumba Kandji (Atlanta Silverbacks) – Player of the Week
F – Jerson Monteiro (Atlanta Silverbacks)
Atlanta Starters: Felipe Quintero, Justin Moore, David Hayes, Josh Bolton, Martyn Lancaster, Scott Buete, Jason McLaughlin, Tony McManus, Ansu Toure, Jerson Monteiro, Macoumba Kandji
Substitutions: Nathan Knox for Jerson Monteiro (68), Greg Chevalier for Ansu Toure (82), Rodrigo Rios for Macoumba Kandji (84), Zach Kirby for Martyn Lancaster (88)
Goals: Tony McManus – 37, Macoumba Kandji – 53, Jerson Monteiro – 65 (Macoumba Kandji)
Cautions: Josh Bolton – 75
Vancouver Starters: Jay Nolly, Luca Bellisomo, Jeff Clarke, Wesley Charles, Takashi Hirano, Nicholas Addlery, Steve Kindel, Martin Nash, Alfredo Valente, Jason Jordan, Eduardo Sebrango
Substitutions: Vicente Arze for Nicholas Addlery (45), Mason Trafford for Luca Bellisomo (58), Charles Gbeke for Jason Jordan (66), Ethan Gage for Martin Nash (68), Admir Salihovic for Takashi Hirano (76)
Goals: Luca Bellisomo – 31 (Wesley Charles), Admir Salihovic – 79 (Vicente Arze)
Cautions: Luca Bellisomo – 4, Nicholas Addlery – 31, Eduardo Sebrango – 75, Vicente Arze – 90
Weather: Hazy, 91
Referees: Shane Moody, Patrick Baker, Serdar Ertep, Mark Dreifuss