The Atlanta Silverbacks returned from a two -year hiatus in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 3, 543 on Saturday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park . The visiting NSC Minnesota Stars, walked away with a 2-1 victory, but the focus of the night was the new-look Silverbacks taking the professional field in Atlanta.
Atlanta Silverbacks Park was bustling from the moment the opening whistle blew. The two teams started off the game evenly, exchanging possessions and trading a few offensive chances.
Early in the game, Silverbacks midfielder Ciaran O’Brien went down with a hamstring injury and had to leave the game; his injury meant an early professional debut for midfielder Jordan Davis.
After the halftime break, the Silverbacks immediately created a quality scoring chance. Striker Matt Horth was played in on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, but his shot was saved by NSC Minnesota’s Joe Warren. The home team continued to pressure the visiting defense, as midfielder Lucas Paulini drilled a 18-yard shot just over the crossbar.
Minutes later, Minnesota’s Kentaro Takada got on the end of a pass inside the box and fired the ball home from close range to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute.
Horth continued to cause problems for the Stars defense and nearly came close to tying the game with a header from six yards out; two minutes later, his hard work paid off. In the 64th minute, defender Mario Pérez sent a low cross to Horth, who poked the ball home to even the game at 1-1.
The Silverbacks looked confident in the second half, holding the majority of the possession. Jordan Davis nearly gave the Silverbacks the lead in the 73rd minute, but his 25-yard drive sailed just wide of Warren’s right post.
Despite the Silverbacks’ efforts, NSC Minnesota went on to reclaim the lead during stoppage time. The Silverbacks conceded a free-kick on the right flank, giving Stars midfielder Andrei Gotsmanov a chance to put a dangerous ball into the box. Gotsmanov curled the ball towards the far post, falling just out of the reach of Silverbacks goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. The goal came right before the final whistle, giving NSC Minnesota a crucial road win to start the season.
The Silverbacks will host FC Edmonton on April 16 for Japan Relief Night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. Fans should buy tickets in advance at atlantasilverbacks.com; 50 percent of all advance ticket sales will be donated to the ongoing relief efforts in Japan.