Atlanta Silverbacks 2 Minnesota United 3
Atlanta, Ga. The Atlanta Silverbacks fell for the first time this season, coming up short against Minnesota United FC, 3-2, Saturday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes named an unchanged side from the team’s 4-3 road win over the defending champions, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, last weekend. The Silverbacks (2-0-1) were looking to pick up right where they left off, but it was the visitors that created the game’s first major scoring chance.
United (2-1-0) midfielder Miguel Ibarra found space at the top of the penalty area in the 10th minute, and launched a shot over the hands of Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco and off the top of the crossbar.
Seven minutes later, it was the Silverbacks threatening the United goal, and this time the opportunity turned into the game’s first goal. Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes was hauled down just outside the penalty area, giving the Silverbacks a dangerous free kick opportunity from 20 yards out. Midfielder Milton Blanco was the one to step up to take it, and he made no mistake, rifling a shot into the far corner to give the Silverbacks a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
United would get back into the game quickly, though. In the 23rd minute, a corner kick from midfielder Simone Bracallelo found the head of defender Brian Kallman, who powered the ball off the hands of Nasco and into the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The back and forth nature of the first half would continue three minutes later, with the home team reclaiming the lead. Following a goal-bound header by Silverbacks forward Ruben Luna, a United player was judged to have handled the ball in the penalty area. The penalty kick was taken by Luna, who calmly slotted the ball into the net to give the Silverbacks a 2-1 advantage.
Handballs would become a theme in the game, and early in the second half, it was United’s turn to benefit from one. Following a Silverbacks handball, Bracalello fired a penalty kick past a diving Nasco to even the score at 2-2 in the 54th minute.
The positive start to the second half would continue for the visitors in the 61st minute when midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan finished a close-range effort following a frenzy in the Silverbacks penalty area. The goal, which was United’s second in just seven minutes, put them on top 3-2.
The goal represented the last of United’s real scoring chances, with the Silverbacks dominating possession and creating a number of opportunities in front of goal down the stretch. All the home side lacked was the finishing touch in the final third, while the United defense stood strong late in the game. The 3-2 loss was the first for the Silverbacks this season following a 2-0-0 start