The Atlanta Silverbacks suffered their second loss of the fall season and saw their 7 road game unbeaten streak snapped in a 3-1 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night.
The game began with both sides seeing some great chances. In the 1st minute of the game, the Silverbacks were able to penetrate the Rowdies’ defense with Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes getting a shot in on goal from the top of the box.
After Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo made the save, the home side went on the counter and midfielder Luke Mulholland attempted to find new forward, Lucky Mkosana. The Zimbabwe native tried to head it in at the far post but Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco was there with a huge save to keep the score level at 0-0.
The game settled down after a hectic first 10 minutes, but the Rowdies looked more lethal with a couple dangerous passes into the box. In the 16th minute, Rowdies forward Devin Del Do sent in another dangerous cross that Nasco was able to deflect away for his second big save of the half.
Speaking of big saves, Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo was able to keep the away side out of the net halfway through the first half. The Silverbacks were able to generate a few opportunities, but none more crucial than in the 37th minute when Rowdies defender Jay Needham took down Silverbacks defender Shane Moroney in the box. To take the penalty kick, Mexican forward and player of the week, Ruben Luna, stepped up to the spot.
Having scored his first goal last week since re-signing for the visitors, Luna tried to beat Restrepo to the bottom right corner, but the Colombian goalkeeper was able to get down and make the save keeping the score level heading into halftime.
The second half would follow along the same themes as the first with the home side looking more dangerous from the start. In the 54th minute, the home side would break the tie courtesy of forward Georgi Hristov. Mulholland drew a foul at the edge of the box and would send in the ensuing free kick that was deflected right to Hristov, who then slotted it under Nasco for his 10th goal of the season.
The home side wasn’t done yet and Hristov would find the back of the net again only three minutes later. In the 57th minute, Mulholland would send in a corner that the Bulgarian forward got on the end of and nodding it home for his 11th goal of the season.
The Silverbacks’ back line was having real trouble with the home sides fowards and the Rowdies would take advantage scoring their third goal of the night through midfielder Shane Hill in the 65th minute. Off of another Rowdies free kick, the ball was initially cleared by the Silverbacks defense but Hill was able to control it and fire a screamer in the lower corner just out of Nasco’s reach.
Down three goals, the Silverbacks would pull one back in the 75th minute with substitute midfielder Horace James blasting in a shot from close range off a long Moroney throw. The Silverbacks would also bring in on-loan Chicago Fire forward Kellen Gulley, who would get a good chance to get the visiting side to within one goal, but after receiving a James cross inside the six-yard box, his shot would narrowly miss the inside of the post.
Unfortunately, the deficit was too steep a slope to climb for head coach Brian Haynes’ team, and after some narrow misses from forward Pablo Cruz, Gulley and James in the second half, the final whistle blew leaving the visitors just short of their mark.
Silverbacks Starting XI: GK Nasco; D Moroney, Navarro (James 62’), Lancaster (C), Hunt; M Blanco; Menjivar; M Cruz, Barrera, Mendes (Paulini 73’); F Luna (Luna 57’)
Rowdies Starting XI: GK Restrepo; D Sanfilippo (Scott 46’) (C), Yamada, Needham, Gafa; M Mulholland, Hill, Frimpong; F Del Do (Savage 77’), Mkosana, Hristov