The Atlanta Silverbacks collected their second straight home win on Saturday night, narrowly topping FC Edmonton, 1-0, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,000 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes struck from the penalty spot in the 15th minute, providing the only goal in what was a hotly contested affair in Atlanta.
“FC Edmonton threw everything at us, but I think we only gave up one shot the whole night, so all the credit goes to the guys. I’m so proud of them,” said Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes. “The front office did their job and brought the fans out tonight, and I told the boys that we had to go out and put on a show and win the game.”
Looking to put last weekend’s 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies out of his mind, Haynes made a trio of notable changes to the starting lineup on Saturday night. Goalkeeper Eric Ati, defender Mike Randolph, and Mendes were drafted into the fold in place of Joe Nasco, Shane Moroney, and Ruben Luna.
The Silverbacks started the game brightly, and in the 14th minute, attacking midfielder Pablo Cruz opened the door for his team to grab the early lead. Cruz split a pair of visiting defenders before being tripped in the box, earning the Silverbacks a trip to the penalty spot. Mendes was the one to take it, and he coolly dispatched a low shot past FC Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker to make it 1-0 in the 15th minute.
It was a back-and-forth first half, but there were very few clear-cut scoring chances between the two sides. In the 30th minute, Silverbacks defender Willie Hunt flashed a header just wide of the visitors’ goal, while FC Edmonton midfielder Chris Nurse did the same at the other end just a minute later.
The game took an interesting turn in the 37th minute when Silverbacks midfielder Danny Barrera was sent off, reducing the home team to 10 men, giving the Silverbacks an uphill climb for the remaining 53 minutes.
Coming out of the locker room after halftime, the red card seemed to have little to no impact on the game. FC Edmonton, who entered Saturday’s game in desperate need of three points if they were to remain in the NASL Fall Season title race, barely troubled Ati all night.
The Canadian side didn’t muster a single shot on goal, and the closest they came to scoring was in the 81st minute when Ati was forced to dive low and snag a dangerous cross from the left flank. FC Edmonton Head Coach Colin Miller did his best to inject attacking players into the lineup, introducing forwards Anthony Adur and Sadi Jalali as the second half wore on.
The Silverbacks proved to be too organized and strong defensively, however, making them worthy recipients of the three points. With the result, the Silverbacks leapfrogged the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to move up to fifth place in the NASL Fall Season standings. Although they sit just two points back from the first-place New York Cosmos, the Cosmos and second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies still have to play their ninth game, which is scheduled for Sunday in New York.
Complete Match Report (Box Score)