The Atlanta Silverbacks went on the road for the first time this season to face the 2011 regular season champion Carolina RailHawks. The Silverbacks still are without Canadian forward Stephen Ademolu who hasn’t made it to Atlanta yet. Other players that would be out due to injury included Forward Matt Horth (knee), Attacking Midfielder Danilo Turcios (hamstring), and Central Defender Rilla (knee). It would be a good test of depth early in the season for the new look Silverbacks.
After the RailHawks scored the first goal of the night in the 2nd minute this game would also test the Silverbacks resilience. Especially when the RailHawks scored their second off a lazy backpass from Martin Lancaster. Goalkeeper Daniel Illyes was already off his line but he couldn’t get to the ball before Nick Zimmerman played it passed Illyes and slotted the shot into an empty net.
The Silverbacks pushed the tempo and it only took 5 minutes to even the score up at 2 – 2 and enter the half with some momentum. Both goals came on similar plays in which they moved it up the field passed it in at the top of the box from the right side and Reinaldo Navia and Raphael Cox each with clinical finishes.
The Silverbacks took their first lead of the game in the 68th minute when Willie Hunt scored off a header following a corner kick. That lead didn’t last long as Zimmerman scored his second goal 6 minutes later. To make matters worse Willie Hunt received his second yellow of the game and was ejected.
Nobody would have blamed the Silverbacks for putting everyone behind the ball the looking to make it out with a point. However, despite being down a man the Silverbacks scored one more when Navia tallied his second of the night in the 80th minute to take the 4-3 lead.
Unfortunately, like last year in the final minutes of the game the Silverbacks couldn’t do enough to hold on to the points. In the last minute of regulation RailHawks Forward Brian Shriver scored the final goal of the game to ensure his team a point. Just moments later there was a shoving match between Silverbacks Nico Colaluca and RailHawks Brian Ackley that excited both benches but cooler heads prevailed and things settled down quickly but that Referee wasn’t having any of it. After red carding both players the Ref decided not to play out the remainder of the stoppage time as he picked up the ball and walked off the pitch.
All around it was a highly entertaining match. Both teams played well and it was good to see the character of the team throughout the match as they answered every challenge presented to them. The biggest concern may be with the red cards given to Hunt and Colaluca. Hopefully some players can return from injury and help boaster the teams depth this week.
Next up is a home match for the Silverbacks against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, April 21st at 7:30.
UPDATE: video highlights http://