In 2011 the Silverbacks were rushed to put together a team and they struggled all year long. They finished in last place in the NASL with a record of 4-20-4. With that type of performance it was no surprise that the Silverbacks relieved Jose Manuel Abundis of his head coaching duties, replacing him with last season’s assistant, Ales Pineda Chacon.
Chacon has been with the Silverbacks organization dating back to 2004 as a player and then as an an assistant coach for the 2007 season before the team went on hiatus for two years.
In addition to Chacon there are a handful of returning players. Last years team captain and midfielder Lucas Pauldini will return along with Forward Matt Horth and midfielders Ciaran O’Brien and Raphael Cox. Defenders Willie Hunt, Shane Moroney, Partick Robertson and Kohei Matsushita are also returning. Fernando Gonzalez will also return after suffering a season-ending foot injury in May of 2011.
Two players returning from previous stints with the club include Defensive midfielder Tony McManus (2005 – 2008) and Martyn Lancaster (2007 – 2008) . McManus started last season with FC Tampa Bay (now Rowdies) and then after being released signed on with the Carolina Railhawks in August 2011. Atlanta resident Martyn Lancaster advanced to the championship game last year with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. Both return in hopes of helping boaster Atlanta’s defense.
To add another piece on the defensive side of the field the Silverbacks signed the 6′ 3″ Brazilian center back Rilla. Hungarian goalkeeper and new addition Daniel Illyes will be thankful that Rilla is there to help anchor the defense.
All of the defense isn’t going to help if the team can’t score. That’s why the team has brought in some veteran players with international experience. Midfielder Danilo Turcios played 85 times for Honduras including twice in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Turcios is expected to be an attacking midfielder and a playmaker who can distribute the ball to the two new international forwards.
The Silverbacks are hoping that in Reinaldo Navia and Stephen Ademolu they have found the offensive spark that team lacked last year and has lacked to a degree this preseason. Unfortunately neither player arrived during the preseason and likely won’t be playing in the first few games of the season. Add that with the fact that 2011 leading scorer Matt Horth is recovering from an injured and the Silverbacks may struggle to put many points on the board at the start of this season.
Former Canadian national team forward Stephen Ademolu feels like he has something to prove. After an injury in 2010 prevented him from making the move to MLS he now feels he needs to show he’s back to the level he was when he played in Europe with four different clubs in Sweden, Norway, and Lithuania from 2004-2010. Ademolu meet with the US Consulate in Toronto last Tuesday (4/3) and should be arriving next week.
Reinaldo Navia, the 33-year-old striker, comes to Atlanta after spending the 2011 season with Ñublense of the Chilean first division. Prior to his stint with Ñublense, Navia played for some of Latin America’s most prestigious clubs including Mexican giants Club América and Monterrey and Ecuadorian powerhouse LDU Quito. Navia also represented Chile 40 times and scored 10 goals along the way. Navia is scheduled to arrive today if all goes as planned.
So which new addition do you think will have the most impact in 2012? Do you think there is enough talent to get the team to the playoffs this season?