A stoppage time penalty kick goal by midfielder Richie Menjivar earned the visiting Atlanta Silverbacks a 1-0 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday evening.
Despite being down a man from most of the second half, Atlanta’s substitutes Kellen Gulley and Horace James created the chance for the penalty kick at injury time when Gulley played in James who tried to go around the Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Matt Glaeser, however he brought down inside the 18-yard box.
The El Salvadoran international Menjivar stepped up for the penalty kick and gave the Silverbacks the lead and sent them back into first place ahead of the Carolina Railhawks, who play against FC Edmonton on Sunday. The result also eliminates the Strikers from hosting Soccer Bowl 2013.
The first half began with some back and forth play with both teams seeing early looks on goal. In the first minute, Silverbacks midfielder Danny Barrera tried to play in fellow midfielder Milton Blanco, forcing Strikers’ Glaeser off his line.
The Strikers would see more chances as the half wore on, continually pressuring the Silverbacks back line. Strikers forward Darnell King found holes in the defense on a few occasions, causing Silverbacks defenders Beto Navarro and Martyn Lancaster to scramble away clearances.
In the 45th minute, Silverbacks midfielder Borfor Carr found Barrera at the top of the box for the Silverbacks best chance of the night. Barrera settled and fired a low shot that narrowly missed the post.
“We have to realize that we are playing on the road against a team that needs points just as much as we do,” said Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes at the end of the first half.
Strikers coach Daryl Shore also commented just before the second half. “We’re pleased to be going into halftime scoreless as they are very potent offensive team so we are happy with the way we are defensively we just have to do a better job in the final third.”
The second half started off with the Silverbacks exerting the pressure with good chances from Barrera. Defender Mark Bloom sent in a perfect cross, but Barrera’s header could not find the back of the net and it went over.
Barrera would be involved in the majority of the play, but in the 63rd minute, Barrera got tangled with the Strikers’ Pecka and was sent off, reducing the Silverbacks to 10 men for the remainder of the game.
Newly acquired forward Jahbari Willis was subbed on and had a major chance for the Strikers in the 83rd minute to put the game out of reach when he got the ball one-on-one with goalkeeper Joe Nasco, however he was able to make a tremendous save and keep it scoreless.
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