Posted: Saturday, July 14th 2012 at 11:31pm
Silverbacks notch first home win, second straight victory
Members of the Silverbacks celebrate their opening goal on Saturday night in the Silverbacks' 2-1 win over Puerto Rico in Atlanta.
ATLANTA -- It looks like the change at the top is paying big dividends for the Atlanta Silverbacks.
The Silverbacks won their third game of the season and second in three games under interim head coach Eric Wynalda, holding off the Puerto Rico Islanders 2-1 on Saturday in Atlanta.
Perhaps most importantly Atlanta proved victorious for the first time in front of its home fans, winning in front of 4,869 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, as Nico Colaluca and Matt Horth grabbed the goals for the suddenly red-hot Silverbacks.
Going for two wins in a row, the Silverbacks (3-5-9) fielded an almost-unchanged lineup from last weekend’s win in Minnesota. Ten starters from the shutout victory over the Stars took the field Saturday night in Atlanta, and it showed early on with some lively play. In the 5th minute, midfielder Tony McManus was played in on goal by defender Andrew Duran, but his low cross didn’t find anyone in front of the net before being cleared away.
The game slowed down midway through the opening half, but the Silverbacks nearly took the lead in the 38th minute. Midfielder Ciaran O’Brien sent a bending, 25-yard free kick towards goal, but Islanders goalkeeper Richard Martin was able to pin it against the post, barely keeping the ball out of the net.
The Silverbacks would take the lead less than a minute before halftime, though, and it was midfielder Colaluca notching his first goal of the season. Martin could only palm away a cross from O’Brien, and the rebound fell favorably to Colaluca, who slotted home from close range.
Wynalda’s team seemed to have a swagger about them coming out of halftime, and it only took six minutes for them to nearly double their advantage. Defender Chris Klute sent an inviting cross into the penalty area, but defender Martyn Lancaster’s header glanced inches wide.
The pressure would pay off for the revitalized Silverbacks, however, and it was forward Horth who would provide his team with their second goal. Defender Jose Burciaga, Jr. sent a high cross into the box, and Horth chested the ball down and fired a shot off the hands of Martin and into the back of the net to make the score 2-0 in the 63rd minute.
Despite the two-goal deficit, the Islanders (8-4-5) didn’t back down, and in the 86th minute, they would make the final minutes of the game interesting. Midfielder Gregory Richardson was played in on goal, and after a swift cutback, he bent a shot into the side netting to cut the Silverbacks lead to 2-1.
The Silverbacks defense stood tall in the final minutes, though, and did enough to kill off the five minutes of stoppage time to earn all three points for the second time in a row.
Next up for the Silverbacks is FC Edmonton, who comes to Atlanta Silverbacks Park next Saturday, July 21 for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. To purchase tickets, visit atlantasilverbacks.com or call 404-969-4900.
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