The Atlanta Silverbacks grinded out a well-earned point on the road last weekend in their 1-1 draw with the New York Cosmos. Now, the team will set their sights on the San Antonio Scorpions, who visit Atlanta Silverbacks Park on Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Playing against the Cosmos for the first time in franchise history, the Silverbacks had to fight off an offensive onslaught by the home team to earn a result at Shuart Stadium. Only a masterful performance from Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco, who was later named Co-NASL Player of the Week, allowed the Silverbacks to sustain such pressure from the Cosmos.
An equalizer early in the second half from Silverbacks defender Shane Moroney cancelled out a first-half penalty kick from Cosmos midfielder Marcos Senna, but the real story was Nasco, who was forced into a number of massive saves late in the game. The Kissimmee, Fla. native stoned Japanese forward Satoru Kashiwase on a pair of occassions from point-blank range, while also making an impressive stop on Cosmos midfielder Sebastian Guenzatti.
For a team that has shined defensively all season long, the Cosmos game was certainly a test. Coming to Atlanta this weekend are the San Antonio Scorpions, who at times this season have shown lethal finishing abilities in front of goal. Polish striker Tomasz Zahorski has already bagged five goals since joining the club just before the start of the NASL Fall Season, while his counterpart, Dutch striker Hans Denissen, has tallied 10 league goals in 2013.
The Scorpions enter Saturday’s matchup on the heels of a scoreless draw against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium. Considering the Strikers’ hot start to the NASL Fall Season, the result was something to build on for the Scorpions. Up until that point, the Scorpions hadn’t collected a single point in fall season play – a stretch that ultimately led to head coach Tim Hankinson’s dismissal and assistant coach Alen Marcina’s appointment as the club’s interim head coach.
Opposite Marcina this weekend is Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes, whose team can’t seem to shake their recent string of draws. The Silverbacks have only lost once in their last eight games, but they’ve also only won twice during that period. Haynes’ team has drawn four of their last five games – three of which saw the team surrender second-half leads.
Saturday’s game presents the Silverbacks with a good opportunity to get their first win since August 3, as their opponents, the Scorpions, sit well below any other team in the NASL Fall Season standings. Seven of the eight NASL teams are within three points of each other, meaning the standings could seriously shift based on the results this weekend.
“We want to try and get an early goal to put the pressure on them,” said Haynes. “With all that being said, its not only going to be our forwards trying to get it done, but it’s going to be all of the guys putting forth the effort to get the result. It’s what we’ve been working on in practice, pulling our weight and getting it done.”
Each team will be without the services of a key player on Saturday, with Scorpions defender Stephen DeRoux and Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes each receiving red cards last weekend. The loss of Mendes is a blow for the Silverbacks, as the Brazilian has been in good form of late. The club did recently sign forward Ruben Luna, who is a proven goal scorer having tallied seven goals in all competitions for the Silverbacks this spring.
The Silverbacks have played the Scorpions twice this year, earning a 2-2 draw away from home and a 1-0 win at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. In two seasons, the Silverbacks have posted a 2-2-2 record against the Texas side.
Ironically enough, the Silverbacks wouldn’t have clinched the NASL Spring Season Championship if it weren’t for the Scorpions. After posting a 3-0 win over Minnesota United FC on July 4, the Silverbacks needed the Scorpions to beat the Carolina RailHawks to win the title. The Scorpions did just that, topping the RailHawks, 2-0, at Toyota Field – a result that booked the Silverbacks’ place as NASL Spring Season Champions and hosts of NASL Soccer Bowl 2013.
The Silverbacks and Scorpions will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET at Atlanta Silverbacks Park on Saturday. For tickets and more information, please call 404-969-4900 or visit atlantasilverbacksfc.com.