Silverbacks Host Scorpions, Eye First Place
Author: Neal Malone
The Atlanta Silverbacks will go for their third straight win across all competitions when they host the San Antonio Scorpions at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
The Silverbacks followed up an impressive 2-0 defeat of the league-leading Carolina RailHawks with a 3-2 triumph over the Georgia Revolution in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night. Each win was significant for the Silverbacks, but in very different ways. The Silverbacks’ win over the RailHawks meant that the team got a giant monkey off their back – they had previously gone winless in eight tries against the RailHawks since joining the NASL. The Silverbacks’ win over the Revolution clinched a coveted matchup against MLS side Real Salt Lake in the third round of the Cup.
There was Cup action across the nation on Tuesday night, and for the Silverbacks’ opponent this weekend, it didn’t go so well. The Scorpions were beaten by PDL side FC Tucson, going down on penalties after ending the second overtime tied 2-2. It was not the way Scorpions Head Coach Tim Hankinson wanted to follow up the team’s convincing 3-1 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers last weekend.
Putting their Cup defeat aside, the Scorpions put in a strong performance against the Strikers. Goals from NASL Player of the Week Javier Saavedra, defender Luka Vucko, and midfielder Edin Husic gave the Scorpions their first win of the season, vaulting them above the Strikers in points and out of the cellar of the NASL standings.
The Silverbacks and Scorpions have already met one time this season, with the game ending in a 2-2 draw at Toyota Field in San Antonio. It was a hard-fought matchup that featured a first half full of excitement. The Silverbacks took an early 1-0 lead in the 5th minute through midfielder Richie Menjivar. The Scorpions would quickly equalize and then take the lead, with goals coming from forward Hans Denissen and midfielder Walter Ramirez. The Scorpions then surrendered the lead as quickly as they had grabbed it. Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes finished brilliantly past Scorpions goalkeeper Pat Hannigan to make the score 2-2 before halftime – a score that would hold until the final whistle.
For this Saturday’s matchup against the Scorpions, Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes will have some fresh legs to choose from. Defenders Marytn Lancaster and Willie Hunt, midfielder Borfor Carr, and forward Pedro Mendes were all rested on Tuesday, leaving them refreshed for this weekend’s NASL proceedings. Additionally, goalkeeper Eric Ati could get his second consecutive start of the season on Saturday. The Cameroonian shot-stopper, who played in the Silverbacks’ matchup with the Scorpions earlier this season, will be looking for his second straight clean sheet.
The Silverbacks, who are tied for the league lead in scoring with 12 goals in six games, will look to cause problems against a Scorpions’ defense that has conceded a dozen goals in seven games across all competitions this year. Forward Ruben Luna, a former member of the San Antonio Scorpions, will look to add to his total of four league goals – an output that puts him second in the league behind the RailHawks’ Brian Shriver. Luna, who also scored two goals in Tuesday’s Cup game, will look to help the Silverbacks score their first three-game winning streak since joining the NASL in 2011.
Kickoff on Saturday is set for 7:30 p.m., with gates opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are available through the Silverbacks ticket office at 404-969-4900 or the team’s website, atlantasilverbacksfc.com.