The Atlanta Silverbacks earned their first win of the season Sunday afternoon, topping FC Edmonton, 2-1, at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.
The Silverbacks, missing several key players due to injury on Sunday, came out firing in the first half, with forward Matt Horth testing FC Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker inside the first seven minutes.
After controlling the possession and creating several chances in the early part of the first half, the Silverbacks scored the goal that their strong play warranted. FC Edmonton committed a foul just outside of the penalty area, giving Silverbacks midfielder Ciaran O’Brien an opportunity to take a close-range free kick in the 31st minute. O’Brien, who has scored on free kicks in the past, made no mistake, bending an effort into the side netting past a helpless Parker to give his team a 1-0 lead.
FC Edmonton was on the attack just three minutes later when Chilean forward Yashir Pinto directed a high effort towards goal, but his shot struck the post and fell wide.
Following more positive play, the visiting Silverbacks were celebrating for a second time in the 41st minute. O’Brien was involved again, although this time as the provider. The midfielder’s cross found the head of defender Shane Moroney, who directed a well-placed header into the corner of the net. It was the Peachtree City native’s third goal in his last three league games.
All season long, teams have had trouble containing FC Edmonton forward Shaun Saiko, and in the 52nd minute, the Canadian youth international was the one to set up his team’s goal. Saiko’s free kick found the foot of defender Kevin Hatchi, who poked the ball into the net to cut the Silverbacks lead in half.
FC Edmonton settled in during the early stages of the second half, putting pressure on the Silverbacks defense. In the 79th minute, that pressure paid off in a big way, as a streaking Paul Craig was hauled down by Silverbacks defender Martyn Lancaster right outside the penalty area. Although the Englishman wasn’t the last defender, the tackle was deemed worthy of a red card by the referee, reducing the Silverbacks to 10 men.
The Silverbacks were resilient, though, clearing away nearly everything the FC Edmonton attack threw their way. After numerous attempts on goal by the home side late in the game, the final whistle blew, giving the Silverbacks their first win of the season and bringing them level in the NASL standings with their Canadian opponents as well as the Carolina RailHawks.