In their 2013 season opener, the Atlanta Silverbacks shut out the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-0 Saturday night in front of 5,402 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Both goals came inside the final minutes as Beto Navarro got on the end of a long throw in to steal the lead and then with the Strikers pushing for an equalizer, Danny Barrera side footed home a second Silverbacks goal.
“Fort Lauderdale had a chance to score tonight and my boys stopped them from scoring and hats off to them,” said Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes. “I’m so glad they got the win they deserved.
“It was nice to do it in front of a sellout crowd but our work has just begun now. It’s just one win that we have to build on.”
Coming out of the gate, the Silverbacks played like a side looking to find their feet in their first game of the season. Both teams traded possession during the opening minutes before Strikers midfielder Jemal Johnson tested Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco for the first time in the eighth minute.
After a slow start, the Silverbacks started to put pressure on the visiting defense. The Strikers committed several fouls in dangerous areas, giving the Silverbacks a few free kicks from just outside the penalty area. Midfielder Barrera was the kick-taker, curling a pair of efforts just over the crossbar. Barrera also combined well with forward Pedro Mendes in the 28th minute, but his shot was placed right at Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser.
As soon as the whistle blew following halftime, both teams became more aggressive in the attack. It took the Silverbacks 15 minutes, but in the 60th minute they created the best chance of the game up to that point. Midfielder Borfor Carr had a cross blocked, but then gathered the rebound to fire towards goal. Glaeser could only parry the ball away, but the Strikers defense manage to frantically clear the ball.
The game continued to heat up in the 74th minute when midfielder Richie Menjivar lofted a ball to Mendes over the top of the Strikers defense, but the Brazilian’s volley rolled wide. The Strikers countered with a very close scoring chance minutes later when substitute forward Andy Herron saw his close-range effort cleared out of the goal mouth by defender Navarro.
Fans could sense a goal coming and they got exactly that in the 86th minute from their home team. Defender Shane Moroney fired a long throw-in into the penalty area and Navarro stormed in to poke the ball past Glaeser to make it 1-0.
“It looked like one of our players was fouled, but it’s inexcusable on our end to give up an 86th minute goal like that at the end,” said Strikers coach Daryl Shore.
“We’ve got to do better in our attacking third. We had a couple of chances today but we didn’t put the ball in the net. You can’t win games if you don’t score goals.”
The goal forced the Strikers to push forward for an equalizer and in the end that was their undoing. The Silverbacks caught the Strikers on a classic counter-attack situation, with Blanco feeding Barrera for a composed finish. The 2-0 score held up in the end, giving the Silverbacks an ideal start to the season in front of a packed house.
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