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Wynalda's Wisdom On Eve Of Kickoff

The Atlanta Silverbacks kick off their 2014 North American Soccer League (NASL) season in New York this weekend when they meet the Cosmos at Shuart Stadium. After training on Thursday, atlantasilverbacksfc.com caught up with Silverbacks Technical Director Eric Wynalda, goalkeeper Derby Carrillo, defender Mike Randolph, and midfielder/forward David Estrada to see how the team's preparations are going.

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR ERIC WYNALDA

On this Sunday’s matchup against the Cosmos:

“Oddly enough, this will be our third straight game against the Cosmos dating back to last year, and the only advantage that I think we have is the fact that we know who they are, but they don’t know who we are. We’re a brand new team, and they haven’t seen a lot of our guys. Overall, though, we’re just extremely excited for the trip to New York. It’s always a special occasion when you play against the Cosmos. Hopefully we can change our fortunes around this time and be on the other end of the result.”

On this year’s Silverbacks team coming together:

“I couldn’t be happier with the way this team has come together the last couple of weeks. At the beginning of the preseason, I think there were a lot of questions about how things would look, but I think right now we really look like a team that has been together for a lot longer than a month. I’m very excited to watch them play on Sunday.”

DEFENDER MIKE RANDOLPH

On having a young team:

“We’re excited for Sunday. You know, we’re a young team with a lot of guys seeing their first action in this league. I think we’re going to bring a lot of energy to the field when we play.”

On the Cosmos:

“The Cosmos are a big club with a lot of resources at their disposal. They have great players and coaches, so it’s nice to have that kind of competition and professionalism in our league. That being said, we absolutely welcome the challenge and we enjoy playing teams of their caliber.”

On the Silverbacks’ familiarity with the Cosmos:

“Even though we have played them recently, I think we’re both still feeling each other out. During the last few games, both teams changed up their gameplans, so it’ll be interesting to see how they come out. We’re definitely just going to stick to our gameplan.”

On the team coming together:

“It’s coming along. Coming together as a team is always a process. It’s encouraging to see us scoring more goals in training and preseason games and coming together as a defensive unit. But it’s always a work in progress.”

MIDFIELDER/FORWARD DAVID ESTRADA

On his view of the team since joining on loan last week:

“We have quality players – many of them are young players that want to prove themselves. When you have that, you have a lot of energy as a team, which is good. I think it looks like there is some maturity on the team too because many of these guys want to move up in the ranks. It’s great to see that hunger in these players and hopefully it’ll translate into a good result on Sunday.”

On a Sounders teammate being with the Cosmos on loan:

“I don’t know much about them, other than there being a Seattle signee on the team. One of the Sounders’ draft picks, Jimmy Ockford, is on the team on loan. I’ve trained with him, and he’s a physical guy – someone you would expect to play center back in this league. I think it’ll be a physical game and I think our team is going to be well-prepared.”

On playing in front of Pele:

“It’s going to be an honor just to be in the same building as him. Any player or anyone who knows soccer has heard of how much of a legend he is, so it’ll be cool to play in front of him. Hopefully I can snag a picture with him, but first things first, we want to get a result. That’s what we’re focused on – getting three points and starting the season off on the right foot.”

GOALKEEPER DERBY CARRILLO

On the Cosmos:

“I don’t know too much about the team, but I’m familiar with Gio Savarese, their head coach. I actually used to do some academy coaching for the Cosmos a few years ago, so I worked with him and did some stuff with him when they were doing their academy. I know that they’re a hungry team that is looking to start off on the right foot, just like we are. They’re coming off a nice championship win against us, so it’ll definitely be an interesting match.”

On feeling any pressure going into the matchup:

“We have to focus on going in and playing our game. It’s their home opener, so I think they’re the ones under pressure in the sense of wanting to get a result in front of their home fans. Just like any away game, there are going to be fans against us. I’m sure we’ll have a few fans out there, but you just have to play inside the four lines and do what you have to do to get a result.”

On finally going up against a NASL opponent:

“Every game is important. You can’t say that the preseason games weren’t important because they absolutely were. Every time you step onto the field, you have to go out there and perform. You can’t take anything for granted. There were some ups and downs in a few of our preseason games, but I think we learned our lesson. We need to start off on the right foot this weekend and get a result. It’s going to be a hostile environment, but we’ll just play our game and listen to what our coaches tell us to do.”