The Atlanta Silverbacks will conclude their short, two-game homestand on Saturday night when they host the second-place Puerto Rico Islanders at 7:30 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
The Silverbacks (1-5-6) returned home after nearly a month on the road last Saturday, but fell victim to a hot Carolina RailHawks team, dropping a 2-0 result at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. The Silverbacks created a number of quality scoring opportunities, forcing RailHawks goalkeeper Ray Burse into several difficult saves, but in the end it wasn’t enough to stop their opponents from recording their third win in a row.
It’s been a tough start to the season for the Silverbacks, but they will welcome a trio of new faces into the team before they host the Islanders (6-2-3) this weekend. Forward Jahbari Willis and defenders Andrew Duran and Chris Klute have all signed with the club in the last week, adding competition and depth into the squad. Duran comes to the Silverbacks on loan from Seattle Sounders FC of MLS, while Willis and Klute move up to the first team after playing with the Silverbacks Reserves in NPSL play this season.
The Islanders will come into Saturday’s matchup on the heels of a pair of games in the CFU Club Championship, an annual international soccer tournament featuring professional clubs from various Caribbean islands. The Islanders fell to Trinidadian side W Connection, 4-1, Tuesday night in Trinidad and Tobago, and are set to face USL Pro side Antigua Barracuda FC in the same location on Thursday night for a place in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Saturday’s game will be the fourth in the last week for the Islanders, not to mention they will have had to stop in Trinidad and Tobago before continuing on to Atlanta. The Islanders will also be without defender Edson Edward, who received a red card in the team’s last league game, which was a 2-0 home loss to the San Antonio Scorpions last Saturday.
Despite their schedule and recent travels, the Islanders boast the best goal differential (+10) in the league. Head Coach Adrian Whitbread’s side has scored a league-high 19 goals and has conceded a league-low nine. The Islanders are led by Dominican playmaker Jonathan Faña, the league’s leader in assists, and David Foley, whose five goals are good for third in the league.
The Silverbacks are looking to end their current homestand on a high note against the Islanders, as they prepare for three more weeks on the road following Saturday’s contest. League-leading scorer Reinaldo Navia will look to get back on track after going scoreless in the last three games, while the team’s defense will look to record their first clean sheet since the opening week of the season.
The Islanders and Silverbacks have already met once this season, with the former ending up on the positive end of a 3-0 decision in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The two teams played twice last season in Atlanta. The Islanders defeated the Silverbacks, 4-3, on July 4, but the Silverbacks got their revenge on September 3, topping the Islanders, 2-0.
The game will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, and as part of the festivities, the champions from two local amateur leagues, Pumas (Liga MAGG) and Melchester Wings (ADASL), will play against each other on the stadium field at 4 p.m. The Silverbacks game can be seen live online at atlantasilverbacks.com/live.
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