The Atlanta Silverbacks finished their 2014 preseason on a high note, topping Carson-Newman College, 4-2, on Sunday afternoon at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Midfielder Junior Burgos Pictured above) led the way for the home side, tallying a pair of second-half goals to put the Silverbacks well on their way to victory. Midfielder Blair Gavin, who last played in Major League Soccer with Seattle Sounders FC, and forward David Estrada, who is currently on loan to the Silverbacks from Sounders FC, added a goal apiece.
The Silverbacks fielded a starting lineup with several trialists and reserve players after most of the first team saw action on Saturday against Clemson University. The lineup still featured some firepower, with the likes of Gavin, Burgos, and midfielder Pablo Cruz all included.
Carson-Newman sat back in the opening minutes of the game, allowing the Silverbacks to control possession and get into a rhythm. Though the home side’s pressure didn’t materialize into anything right away, it would eventually lead to the opening goal in the 20th minute. Burgos received the ball on the right side of the penalty area, and squared it for Gavin, who coolly sidefooted a shot past the visiting goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.
Burgos nearly made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute, curling a free kick over the wall and inside the near post, but the Carson-Newman goalkeeper was alert and made a strong diving save. Nine minutes later, Carson-Newman got their first good look at goal. A fortunate bounce left the ball at a visiting player’s feet just 10 yards from goal, and the shot that came in forced Silverbacks goalkeeper Eric Ati into an impressive reaction save from close range.
The Silverbacks picked up right where they left off after halftime, with Burgos making it 2-0 thanks to a tidy finish from the left side of the penalty area. The San Francisco native found space and curled a beautiful lofted effort over the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper in the 47th minute.
Just when it appeared as if the game was well in hand, Carson-Newman answered back. The visitors put home a pair of goals in a span of four minutes - one coming in the 48th minute following a bad giveaway by the Silverbacks defense and another coming in the 52nd minute following some good passing inside the penalty area.
The Silverbacks stayed focused despite conceding two consecutive goals in such quick succession, and it was Burgos that would put them back ahead. Already having notched a goal and an assist, he dribbled to his right and curled a 20-yard effort into the net for a 3-2 lead in the 70th minute.
Estrada was the one to replace Burgos in the 74th minute, coming in alongside forward Kwadwo Poku for the final 15 minutes or so. The Silverbacks’ newest signing was involved right away, and his positive play was rewarded just three minutes before the 90 minutes were up. A ball came in over the top of the Carson-Newman defense, and the speedy Estrada ran onto it, gathered it, and deposited it into the side netting for a 4-2 lead.
Following Estrada’s goal, there was still time for another spectacular effort on goal by the Silverbacks. A shallow clearance following a corner kick fell right to Silverbacks midfielder Janny Rivera, who absolutely blasted a half-volley off the under side of the crossbar. It didn’t find the back of the net, but it was a ferocious effort that would have been the perfect cap to an exciting second half on Sunday afternoon.
The Silverbacks will now turn their attention towards preparing for a NASL opponent, as they get set to visit the New York Cosmos in the 2014 season opener on Sunday, April 13. To purchase tickets for the 2014 Silverbacks season, call the ticket office at 404-969-4900 or visit atlantasilverbacksfc.com.