In a game that never truly became tightly contested, the Atlanta Silverbacks built on a dominant opening stretch to record a 4-2 victory over Indy Eleven in front of another sold out crowd of 10,285 at IUPUI's Michael A. Carroll Stadium on Saturday night.
Two goals in the game's first 21 minutes - including a fifth-minute tally that deflated a sellout crowd in Indianapolis - put the Silverbacks ahead early, and the Eleven were never able to level the score.
The Silverbacks took control of the game quickly, capitalizing on a defensive miscommunication by the Eleven just five minutes into the game. After narrowly missing a pair of goal-scoring chances in the game’s opening minutes, Atlanta put itself ahead with a fifth-minute goal by midfielder Junior Burgos.
Silverbacks defender Mike Randolph worked his way inside the Eleven penalty area and played a low cross in towards Burgos, who had escaped his mark to reach the near post. Burgos’ tidy one-time finish froze Indy goalkeeper Kristian Nicht and gave Atlanta the early lead.
With a goal in hand, Atlanta continued to press forward. Their persistence was rewarded 16 minutes later, when a long-distance strike from midfielder Pablo Cruz doubled the Silverbacks’ lead. Upon receiving a pass from fellow midfielder Kwadwo Poku, Cruz needed just two touches before unleashing a 25-yard shot into the left side of Indy’s net.
The next 20 minutes saw the game stabilize and slow. Atlanta appeared to be headed toward a 2-0 halftime lead until a clash in the Indy penalty area allowed the home side on the scoreboard. After Eleven midfielder Don Smart was pulled down in the box in the 43rd minute, midfielder Kleberson sliced the Silverbacks’ lead in half with a rolling spot kick just inside the left post.
After the halftime break, the Silverbacks wasted no time, scoring just 40 seconds into the second half to put the game out of reach. Atlanta defender Ryan Roushandel’s perfectly-placed pass from deep inside his own territory found Jaime Chavez in stride, and the forward slotted the ball past a stranded Nicht.
With the Silverbacks again at a two-goal advantage, again it was a spot kick from Kleberson that brought the game back to competitiveness. After Atlanta goalkeeper Joe Nasco brought down an attacker in front of his net, Indy’s talismanic Brazilian buried his second penalty kick of the night to make the score 3-2.
Any hopes of a comeback by the home side were cut short in the game’s 65th minute, when Indy's Brad Ring was given a straight red card for a last-man-back foul. A fourth Atlanta goal from midfielder Junior Sandoval put the game finally out of reach.