For the Atlanta Silverbacks, Opening Kick 2013 represents a fresh start. The team that has languished at the bottom of the standings for the past two seasons will sport a new logo, a new coach, and a new belief that this season can be their best season to date.
The team placed last in 2011, and finished up just one position higher last season. After an abysmal start to 2012 with just one win in the first fourteen matches, the team improved under the direction of Eric Wynalda, and later Brian Haynes.
In fact, despite missing out on the playoffs, the Atlanta Silverbacks were one of the most in-form teams come the end of the season. Atlanta was unbeaten in the last five matches, just one game shy of the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ unbeaten streak to finish the regular season.
In their opening night opponents, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, the Silverbacks face the only NASL team they maintain a winning record against. In eight regular season matches, the Silverbacks are 3-3-2 against Fort Lauderdale.
Last season, the Silverbacks won two, tied one and lost one against Fort Lauderdale. The most memorable matches were an eight-goal thriller at Lockhart Stadium which the Strikers won 5-3, and a Silverbacks’ 4-2 victory at home.
Heading into the match Atlanta holds a three-match unbeaten streak against the Strikers at home. The side hasn’t lost to Fort Lauderdale at Atlanta Silverbacks Park since April 23, 2011.