Silverbacks embark on another championship run
by Marcel Pourtout

Staff / Katherine Frye / Atlanta Silverbacks player Horace James tries to keep possession of the ball during practice last week.Since winning the spring season championship of the North American Soccer League and clinching the opportunity to host the Soccer Bowl on November 9 to determine the overall champion of the league, the Atlanta Silverbacks have had to overcome a slow start to the fall season, which started in August. They only gained one win in their first six games this fall.

“We started off slow because we’re trying new things with formations and personnel,” defender Mike Randolph said. “We’re putting players in different spots to see what works better.”

Since the slow start, the Silverbacks have won two of their last four games and will host Minnesota United FC this Saturday at Silverbacks Park at 7:30 p.m.

The Silverbacks have been paced by forward Pedro Mendez, who leads the league with seven goals and had the game-winner in Atlanta’s 1-0 win over Edmonton FC on Sept. 28.

Ruben Luna has scored six goals for Atlanta and forward Danny Barrera is among the league leader in assists with seven.

“My only concern is the last game and we’re 0-0,” Silverbacks head coach Brian Haynes said. “Its time to get some wins and the guys’ response has been tremendous and this is our starting point. Now the race has started for the championship. We’re ready to win the fall and see who faces us in the Bowl.”

The fall season has brought about changes with the addition of the New York Cosmos, who are currently in first place, among other things. “The teams were feeling each other out in the spring but now they want wins to get into the Bowl,” Randolph said. “Teams have started to test us but we’re responding well and want to close out games better.”

The Silverbacks know that they must protect home turf for the rest of the season and in the Bowl to bring the championship to Atlanta. “We want to give the fans what they came to see which is good soccer and a win,” Randolph said.

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