With just six games to play in the NASL Fall Season, teams are running out of time to secure their spot as the Atlanta Silverbacks’ opponent in November’s NASL Soccer Bowl 2013. The sense of urgency makes every game massively important for each team, especially for a team like FC Edmonton, who comes to Atlanta in dire need of three points if they are to remain in the race for the fall season title.
The Silverbacks and FC Edmonton will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, with both teams entering the match on the heels of disappointing losses. The Silverbacks dropped a 3-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium last Saturday, putting them five points below the first-place New York Cosmos. Meanwhile, FC Edmonton stumbled to a 2-1 loss to Minnesota United FC at home – a result that kept them second from the bottom with eight points.
Although the Silverbacks have already secured their spot in the league’s championship game, head coach Brian Haynes surely won’t be pleased with the way his team has been playing of late. Outside of a 2-1 win at home over the last-place San Antonio Scorpions on September 14, the Silverbacks have been average throughout the NASL Fall Season, winning just two of their eight games.
Much like the Silverbacks, FC Edmonton hasn’t been losing a lot of games, but they also haven’t been winning many. Head Coach Colin Miller’s side has tied a league-high five times this season, with the Silverbacks close behind with four ties.
One of their two losses did come last week in what could prove to be a big missed opportunity down the stretch. Outside of a consolation goal in stoppage time from forward Daryl Fordyce, FC Edmonton were outclassed at home by Minnesota United, who grabbed all three points thanks to strikes from defender Callum Mallace and forward Simone Bracalello.
FC Edmonton has had trouble scoring during the fall season. The Canadians haven’t scored more than one goal in a game since June 30, which has put tremendous pressure on their defense to play mistake-free soccer. Midfielder Shaun Saiko, normally the center point of FC Edmonton’s attack, has had a quiet year. The former Middlesborough man wasn’t even included in the starting lineup last game, and only ended up making a six-minute cameo appearance.
Midfielder Chris Nurse and forward Corey Hertzog have been very productive in the attack, scoring some important goals for FC Edmonton. The back line has also been fantastic, with last weekend’s 2-1 loss representing the first time they have given up more than one goal in a game this fall season.
For the Silverbacks, they’re looking to gather some momentum going into NASL Soccer Bowl 2013. Only three regular season home games remain until the big game, and with the NASL Fall Champion coming to town on November 9, Haynes’ side will want to start finding some more goals.
They have only managed to score more than one goal in a game once this fall season, and it won’t get any easier this weekend against a formidable FC Edmonton back line, which is led by veterans Albert Watson and Lance Laing.
Goals have been hard to come by in games between the Silverbacks and FC Edmonton over the years. Many of the matchups have been extremely physical – just look at the card total. In the last seven meetings, the two teams have combined for 21 yellow cards and five red cards.
The Silverbacks have earned a pair of draws, along with a loss, in three games against FC Edmonton this season. Silverbacks forward Horace James scored his first NASL goal in Edmonton earlier in the fall season, and the Jamaican is coming off scoring another goal last weekend in Tampa Bay. James, along with attacking players Danny Barrera and Pedro Mendes, will be key for the Silverbacks as they try to crack the code of the FC Edmonton defense.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, and tickets are available over the phone at 404-969-4900 or online at atlantasilverbacksfc.com.