After suffering their first loss of the season last weekend, the Atlanta Silverbacks will travel to San Antonio to take on the Scorpions at their brand-new stadium, Toyota Field, at 8:30 p.m. ET this Saturday.
The Silverbacks are coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss to Minnesota United FC – a game that saw them relinquish a 2-1 halftime lead. First-half goals from midfielder Milton Blanco and forward Ruben Luna put the Silverbacks in front, but the second half would go United’s way.
The referee awarded a penalty kick to United for a handball in the Silverbacks penalty area, which United midfielder Simone Bracalello expertly dispatched. Seven minutes later, midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan poked home from close range to give his team a 3-2 lead – an advantage that would hold up despite numerous scoring opportunities for the Silverbacks late in the game.
Despite suffering their first loss, the Silverbacks dominated possession and created some quality scoring opportunities. They will try to continue their positive play this weekend, as they look to bounce back against a Scorpions team that suffered a 1-0 loss last weekend to FC Edmonton at Clarke Stadium.
After posting the league’s best regular-season record last year, head coach Tim Hankinson’s side has gotten off to a slow start this season. The Scorpions are still in search of their first win of the season. In fact, the club is still looking for their first goal as well. The Scorpions have taken just one point from their first three games and have yet to find the back of the net.
If Hankinson and his team have had a bright spot, it would be their defense. The Scorpions, who posted a 8-3-3 record at home last season, have surrendered a respectable three goals in their first three games. Goalkeeper Pat Hannigan, along with defenders Blake Wagner and Greg Janicki, return for another season in San Antonio, and so far they’ve combined well with newcomers Luka Vucko and Lyle Martin.
In the attack, the Scorpions will look to their Croatian connection of forwards Ivan Milicevic and Nikola Vasilic, with returning contributor Esteban Bayona in the mix as well. They have experienced their fair share of injuries already this season, with former LA Galaxy winger Bryan Jordan going down with a strained hamstring, former DC United defender Stephen De Roux tearing a foot ligament, and Janicki going down after just 10 minutes last game.
The Silverbacks will view this game with just as much importance as their Texan counterparts. The Silverbacks flew out of the gates with two straight wins, but tripped up last weekend. Still, there are plenty of positives for Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes.
Forward Ruben Luna is tied for the league lead in goals with three, while midfielder Milton Blanco is tied for the league lead in assists with two. Blanco, formerly of Chivas USA, notched his first goal in Silverbacks colors last week, bending in a free kick from about 20 yards out. Add midfielders Danny Barrera, Richie Menjivar, Borfor Carr, and Pedro Mendes into the mix and you have an ultra-creative midfield that could cause major problems for the Scorpions back line.
In four contests against the Scorpions, the Silverbacks haven’t had the best of luck, taking just four of a possible 12 points. After a scoreless draw in last year’s season opener and a pair of 3-0 defeats in San Antonio, the Silverbacks bounced back with a vengeance, posting a 3-1 win over the Scorpions in the final home game of last season.
The Silverbacks and Scorpions will kick at 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Scorpions’ new state-of-the-art facility, Toyota Field. The match can be seen live online at atlantasilverbacksfc.com, and if fans want to get together to watch the game, the Silverbacks will be hosting a watch party at the Elder Tree Public House in East Atlanta Village. For more information on the Elder Tree, visit eldertreeatl.com.