Atlanta, Ga. (April 13, 2013) – In their 2013 season opener, the Atlanta Silverbacks shut out the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-0, Saturday night in front of 5,402 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Coming out of the gate, the Silverbacks played like a side looking to find their feet in their first game of the season. Both teams traded possession during the opening minutes before Strikers midfielder Jemal Johnson tested Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco for the first time in the eighth minute.
After a slow start, the Silverbacks started to put pressure on the visiting defense. The Strikers committed several fouls in dangerous areas, giving the Silverbacks a few free kicks from just outside the penalty area. Midfielder Danny Barrera was the kick-taker, curling a pair of efforts just over the crossbar. Barrera also combined well with forward Pedro Mendes in the 28th minute, but his shot was placed right at Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser.
As soon as the whistle blew following halftime, both teams became more aggressive in the attack. It took the Silverbacks 15 minutes, but in the 60th minute, they created the best chance of the game up to that point. Midfielder Borfor Carr had a cross blocked, but then gathered the rebound to fire towards goal. Glaeser could only parry the ball away, but the Strikers defense manage to frantically clear the ball.
The game continued to heat up in the 74th minute when midfielder Richie Menjivar lofted a ball to Mendes over the top of the Strikers defense, but the Brazilian’s volley rolled wide. The Strikers countered with a very close scoring chance minutes later when substitute forward Andy Herron saw his close-range effort cleared out of the goal mouth by defender Beto Navarro.
Fans could sense a goal coming, and they got exactly that in the 86th minute from their home team. Defender Shane Moroney fired a long throw-in into the penalty area, and Navarro stormed the back post to poke the ball past Glaeser to make it 1-0.
The goal forced the Strikers to push forward for an equalizer, and in the end, that was their undoing. The Silverbacks caught the Strikers on a classic counter-attack situation, with Blanco feeding Barrera for a composed finish. The 2-0 score held up in the end, giving the Silverbacks an ideal start to the season in front of a packed house.
The Silverbacks head on the road next weekend, visiting the league’s defending champions, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, at Al Lang Stadium. The game can be seen live online at atlantasilverbacksfc.com.