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Monday, May 29, 2017

Silverbacks Stick A Fork In The Force - By Taylor Peyton

The Silverbacks defeated the Knoxville Force 2-0 on the Saturday leading up to Memorial Day. DZ Harmon broke the deadlock 41st minute, and Avery Shephard scored just before the halftime whistle. The game was initially a defensive struggle. The Silverbacks had the better chances early, but whether it was a save by the keeper or a clearance off the line, they were thwarted time and time again, until DZ Harmon made it 1-0, that is. A year after graduating from South Gwinnett High School, Harmon now has his first goal for the Silverbacks. The Silverbacks weren’t done yet, as Avery Shepherd made it 2-0 just before halftime, with Martin Cortes providing the assist. What made this goal even more interesting, was that Avery had only been on the pitch for about 12 minutes before scoring the goal. After being left out of the starting lineup, he came on as a sub for Ferrety Sousa in the 33rd minute. His goal on Saturday was his 3rd of the year and was also the third consecutive game in which he’s scored. It’s an impressive streak for the recent Clayton State University graduate who is in his second season with the Silverbacks. Another stellar second half performance from the backline and keeper Thomas Hunter, the Silverbacks kept their third clean sheet of the season. Hunter made several impressive saves and perhaps the biggest moment of the second half was the Silverbacks foiling a 2-on-1 chance for Knoxville in the 87th minute. The Silverbacks were well in control after those two goals late in the first half, but it was still a very tough, physical game. The day after the win, captain Mitch Garcia posted a photo of his face looking rough on Instagram (@mitchinski) with the caption saying “When People only use their elbows to go up for headers. #KnoxvillePlayersNeedToLearn #2-0SilverbacksVictory” This reaction by Mitch made it seem like it went on throughout the game, but there was a particular incident where he took an elbow and had to go off momentarily to get treated. The Knoxville player that elbowed him did not get a yellow card, big surprise there! The Silverbacks next play Knoxville Thursday, June 8th, and if other Silverbacks players were also victims of elbows or near elbows, tensions might run high in that match. The Silverbacks are now 4 points ahead of Knoxville, but a 3-2 victory by Asheville over Carolina means they only have a 1 point lead in the race for the Eastern Division of the Southeast Conference. The Silverbacks will travel to Charlotte next weekend to take on Carolina United. As of May 29th, Carolina United are still looking for that ever-elusive first win in 2017. They were on their way when they had a 2-1 lead of the Georgia Revolution in Hampton, but former Silverback Borfor Carr scored in the dying moments to make it 2-2. Ironically, Carolina will be on the road taking on the Knoxville Force on Tuesday, May 30th, before heading back to The Queen City in preparation for their match against the Silverbacks. Unfortunately, the Silverbacks’ next home game isn’t until June 24th, so keep your eyes peeled for streams of the three away games the Silverbacks will be playing between now and then. If there are none to be found, there’s always Twitter updates. Regardless, there will be in-depth summaries of every game on Planet Of The Backs, so keep an eye out.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Struggling Silverbacks Look To Knock Down Knoxville - By Taylor Peyton

It hasn’t been the best string of results for the Silverbacks. They were knocked out of the US Open Cup by Charleston on May 17 and then took a 2-1 loss on the road against New Orleans a few days later on May 21. The Silverbacks also lost a friendly against Peachtree City MOBA, but a lot of the regulars weren’t playing, and it was just a friendly so not too much stock can be put into that. The primary focus is for this Saturday’s NPSL matchup against Knoxville Force at Silverbacks Park.

The Force are coming off a 3-2 win over Asheville City on Thursday, May 25. It was their first win of the season after two draws against Carolina United, and Asheville City. They currently stand second in the NPSL Southeast Eastern Division, behind the Silverbacks. Ashley Kelynack is Knoxville’s top scorer with two. Both of his goals were scored against Asheville. One in Thursday’s win, and one in the draw that took place on May 19.

The weather in New Orleans was less than favorable last Saturday. It rained throughout the night and second half was delayed by lightning. The Silverbacks struck first with another goal from Avery Shephard in the 19th minute. Shephard became the Silverbacks leading scorer in the NPSL after that goal. Unfortunately, it was not enough as goals from David Evans and Nathan Heath led the Jesters to a 2-1 win over the Silverbacks.

Following the loss in New Orleans, the Silverbacks were in Peachtree City on Wednesday, for a friendly against Peachtree City MOBA. With the parking lot full of Golf Carts (I mean, I wasn’t there so I can’t confirm this, but I used to live in Fayetteville, so I know how those people are with their Golf Carts), the Silverbacks and MOBA both sent out lineups with very few of their usual starters. Kemar Brown, Ebrima Njie, and Fabio Fernandes suited up for the Silverbacks, but the rest were players not usually seen on the pitch. One of those players was Yacinte Hermann, who scored the Silverbacks lone goal that made it 1-1 at the time. MOBA’s Daniel Shaw scored back to back goals in the 62nd and 63rd minutes to make it a final score 3-1.

It’s not exactly a huge deal that the Silverbacks lost the friendly against MOBA, but the two back to back losses in competitive games against Charleston and New Orleans are a little bit concerning, especially given the fact that most Silverbacks fans were expecting the team to rebound in New Orleans after being defeated by the Battery.

This game against Knoxville is a must win for the Silverbacks because not only would a loss allow Knoxville to overtake them in the standings, but could also possibly open the door for Asheville to leapfrog them too. The NPSL season is very short, and with Knoxville and Asheville knocking on their door, the Silverbacks have realistically used up all of their allowed slip ups this season if they want to not only win their division but also earn the right to home-field advantage when the playoffs start.

As it currently stands, The Silverbacks are the favorites to win the Eastern Division, Knoxville and Asheville are respectable contenders, but the Revs and Carolina United, however, are on their way to becoming evidence that the NPSL needs relegation.

First place is on the line. Does anything else need to be said? Kickoff is 5 pm at Silverbacks Park. Hopefully, Memorial Day Weekend traffic won’t make your commute too troublesome, but if a 20-minute slowdown on 285 is the price to pay for a Saturday at the Park, so be it!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Very Abridged History of the Atlanta Silverbacks in the US Open Cup - By Steven Bayley

The Atlanta Silverbacks have had a long, and occasionally illustrious history in the US Open Cup.  The Silverbacks first Open Cup match really depends on where you draw the line.  Most Silverbacks supporters recognize the continuity of the clubs history under all names associated with the Silverbacks, and for the first team, that means the Atlanta Ruckus.  On June 14th, 1995, 22 years ago next month, the Atlanta Ruckus beat the Tampa Bay Cyclones 4:2.  

More specifically, the rivalry between the Atlanta Silverbacks and Charleston Battery, as contested through the USL regular season and the Southern Derby Cup, has been well documented elsewhere, and although the two teams share a long history, as far as the Silverbacks first team, they have never met in the US Open Cup.  But if we’re going to include (and rightly so) the Ruckus in the Silverbacks history, then we must also include another Silverbacks ancestor club, Atlanta FC.  The current incarnation of the Silverbacks first team evolved directly out of the old Silverbacks Reserves, the NPSL team that served the NASL team with an expanded player pool and planted the seeds for local rivalries with current NPSL clubs like the Georgia Revolution, Chattanooga FC, Knoxville Force, and the New Orleans Jesters, even if Silverbacks fan support didn’t always follow the Reserves to the same extent that they did the first team in the NASL.  

In the case of Chattanooga and Georgia Revolution, the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks played each twice in the US Open Cup, going a combined 4 and 0 against the two clubs.  Most recently, on May 27th 2015 The Silverbacks traveled to Finley Stadium in Chattanooga where it took an 89th minute Shaka Bangura penalty equalizer for the Silverbacks to stave off elimination and a Jaime Chavez winner in the 30 minute overtime session to seal the game.  This match was much closer than the previous years Open Cup meeting, also in Chattanooga.  On May 28th 2014 the Silverbacks kicked off their historic US Open Cup run to the Quarterfinals with a 5 nothing beatdown of Chattanooga FC before coming home to Atlanta to knock off Real Salt Lake, going out to Colorado to see out a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids with 8 men after the infamous Jaime Chavez stomping incident, and eventually falling at home 1:3 to the Chicago Fire.  

The Previous two years, 2012 and 2013, saw the Silverbacks open their US Open Cup participation with trips to neighboring East side Atlanta suburb Conyers, GA to take on the Georgia Revolution.  The Silverbacks won the May 22, 2012 encounter 1:0, a game in which Raphael Cox scored the winner for the Silverbacks. Poku, in the game which put him on the Silverbacks radar and gave him his shot in the pros, played for the Georgia Revolution against the Silverbacks and had a Penalty saved by Joe Nasco.  This game is also critical to note because it set up the infamous selling of hosting rights by the Silverbacks to Seattle, a move which demoralized the clubs fan base, resulted in a 5:1 Seattle beating of the Backs at Starfire in the next round, and some would contend ignited a fallout from which the Silverbacks have never fully recovered as a club.  A footnote to this story is that after Boris sold the hosting rights away, the fans were promised some kind of feature special event friendly as recompense, and 5 years later that event has yet to take place.  The May 21st 2013 meeting was just as competitive, with Poku again featuring for the Georgia Revolution and The Silverbacks holding on to a 3-2 lead in the second half to see the game out thanks to two goals from Ruben Luna and one from Pablo Cruz.  That match set up the hard fought 3:2 loss away to Real Salt Lake on May 28th 2013, which in turn set the stage for the Silverbacks belief that they could knock off the MLS side, and as we know they got the opportunity to do just that the following year.  

So how does all of that relate to the Silverbacks Open Cup history with the Charleston Battery you ask?  Hey, thanks for getting us back on topic.  So if the Silverbacks Reserves preceded the Silverbacks as we know them know, Atlanta FC was an independent local club that competed in both the NPSL and USASA sanctioned leagues in the mid-late 2000’s.  Eventually, prior to the 2011 season, coinciding with the re-start of the NASL Silverbacks, the local independent club Atlanta FC rebranded to become the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves, but 2 years before that, on June 9th 2009 that same Atlanta FC club, competing for their first and only time as Atlanta FC in the US Open Cup after qualifying through the USASA open track, lost 2:0 to the Charleston Battery at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, in a match that may have been a foreshadowing of their future club’s culture, and saw 3 Atlanta players ejected from the game, forcing Atlanta to finish with 8 men.  

In total, the Atlanta Silverbacks and ancestor clubs have played 27 US Open Cup matches, with tomorrows 3:30 showdown with Charleston being the clubs 28th all time appearance in the United States only truly open football competition.  Overall, the Ruckus/Silverbacks are 12-12-2 in the US Open Cup all time, and 12-13-2 if you include the Atlanta FC vs. Charleston Battery match in the Silverbacks historical tally.  Strictly competing as the Atlanta Silverbacks, the club is 11-11-2 in the competition, dating back to the its first Open Cup appearance as the Silverbacks, a 2:0 win for the Silverbacks on June 26th 2002 over the Memphis Express, after a 7 year hiatus for the Ruckus/Silverbacks between 1995 and 2002 due to consistent historical ineptitude and the old US Open Cup format which was much smaller and required qualification even for professional teams all the way through to the MLS level.  

While controversy and difficulties have always seemed to surround the club in all its forms, its persistence in the face of adversity puts it in a small group of clubs in the United States with a truly independent fighting spirit, which has both endeared itself to some fans as well as alienated others over the years.  While the outcome of tomorrows historic 3:30 PM on a Wednesday US Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery remains to be seen, one thing is for sure.  A new chapter in Silverbacks Open Cup history will be written tomorrow, and for those that have stuck with the club through thick and thin, anticipation levels are at an all time high.  

Steve Bayley
Atlanta Silverbacks supporter, Non League America founder
May 16, 2017

Table of All Time Atlanta Silverbacks US Open Cup participation

Atlanta Ruckus 4
Tampa Bay Cyclones 2
Richmond Kickers 2
Atlanta Ruckus 1
Atlanta Silverbacks 2
Memphis Express 0
Dallas Burn 2
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Wilmington Hammerheads 2
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Atlanta Silverbacks 3
Carolina Dynamo 2
Kansas City Wizards 4
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Des Moines Menace 5
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Wilmington Hammerheads 2
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Atlanta Silverbacks 10
Azzurri 0
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Charlotte Eagles 0
FC Dallas 1 (4:3) PK
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Atlanta Silverbacks (USL-1) 2 (5:4 PK win)
Austin Aztex U23 (PDL) 2
Miami FC (USL-1) 1
Atlanta Silverbacks 0
Charleston Battery 2
Atlanta FC 0
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Georgia Revolution 0
Seattle Sounders 5
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Atlanta Silverbacks 3
Georgia Revolution 2
Real Salt Lake 3
Atlanta Silverbacks 2
Atlanta Silverbacks 5
Chattanooga FC 0
Atlanta Silverbacks 2
Real Salt Lake 1
Atlanta Silverbacks 2
Colorado Rapids 1
Chicago Fire 3
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
Atlanta Silverbacks 2 (AET)
Chattanooga FC 1
New York Red Bulls 3
Atlanta Silverbacks 0
Reading United AC 2
Atlanta Silverbacks 0
Atlanta Silverbacks 4
SC United Bantams 1

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Can The Silverbacks "Kill The Battery?" - By Taylor Peyton

The title of this post might fly over the heads of readers that don’t listen to Metallica, but I’m sure those that do will appreciate it. Anyways, let’s get down to business because this is a monumental matchup. For Silverbacks fans who have been following the team since it’s humble beginnings, it’s a chance to relive some of their favorite memories of supporting the Silverbacks. For Silverbacks fans that were late to the party and have yet to experience a real Silverbacks vs Battery game, it’s a chance to finally be able to cross if off of their Bucket List, and also the fact that the Battery is Atlanta United’s farm team does add a little bit of fuel to the rivalry.

To a lot of people, the rivalries that the Silverbacks developed in the NASL with the likes of the New York Cosmos, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Minnesota United, and Ft. Lauderdale Strikers never quite reach the level of the rivalry between the Silverbacks and Battery.

The Rivalry started with the formation of the Southern Derby Cup in 2000. It was created by fans of the teams involved to open the door for rivalries, and encourage other fans to travel to the games. The original members were the Battery, the Silverbacks, and Raleigh Capital Express. Ironically, it was Raleigh who won the inaugural Southern Derby cup, only to fold shortly after.

The Silverbacks did manage to win a Southern Derby Cup before the Battery did by winning the 2002 edition of it. The Battery came back to win it in 2003, but the Silverbacks went on a tear winning it three years in a row from 2004-2006. The Silverbacks dominance in the Southern Derby Cup was brought to an end when the Carolina Railhawks won in 2007, which was also their first season in existence.

2008 was the final time the Silverbacks would participate in the Southern Derby Cup, following the season was a 2 year hiatus that ended with the Silverbacks joining the NASL in 2011. The Southern Derby Cup went on without the Silverbacks. Nowadays it is being contended for by Charleston and the Charlotte Independence.

The Silverbacks and Battery did have a preseason friendly at Silverbacks Park in 2012, a 1-0 win for the Silverbacks where Lucas Paulini scored the lone goal, but it goes without saying that a preseason Friendly and the US Open Cup are two different beasts.

Winning on Wednesday is going to be a difficult task for the Silverbacks, as the Battery are currently at the top of the USL Eastern Conference with a 6-1-1 record and 19 points. Their top scorer is Romario Williams who is tied for top goalscorer of the USL with 6 goals. Another key player the Battery have is Justin Portillo, who stands alone as the top assist provider in the USL with 5.

Portillo even had an assist this past saturday after his free kick met the head of Forrest Lasso in the 62 minute of their 1-0 win over Saint Louis FC. Over the course of 8 games, the Battery have scored 17 goals and only conceded 7. Goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper has 3 clean sheets.

The question is, how strong of a team will the Battery field on Wednesday?  Not only do they have the game against the Silverbacks, but they also have to travel to Harrisburg on Saturday, and then Bethlehem on the Thursday of the week after. It’s a very busy stretch for the Battery so perhaps what we see on Wednesday will not be a full strength team.

One player who is definitely a safe bet to be starting for the Silverbacks is Joao Johanning. After serving his suspension on Friday, and not being active on Saturday, he is fully rested and should be ready to go. Joao has been drawing a lot of rough fouls early in the season, maybe the challenges coming from the professionals that play for the Battery won’t be as desperate as those coming from his NPSL opponents, but there’s still a chance he can draw fouls and create chances for the Silverbacks off of set Pieces.

Deon McCaulay did not play on Friday or Saturday with Avery Shepherd pulling double duty up top for the Silverbacks, so he is another player that will more than likely get a start on Wednesday. He scored two goals against SC United Bantams in the 1st round this year, as well a goal against the Chicago Fire in the 2014 Quarterfinals of the US Open Cup, so he know how to get it done in this tournament.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 at Silverbacks Park, once again. The Silverbacks have made it clear on Twitter that it’s not ideal for them, and then earlier today sent an email giving the fans an explanation to the situation, and also posted the contents of said email on Twitter and Facebook. In the statement, they explained that changing the venue came with a risk of losing the right to host the game, and the club were asked to pay $12,500 in return for a later time slot. Understandably, they decided not to pursue either option. In addition to an apology for those that aren’t able to go, free admission for another future Silverbacks game was offered to those who will be attending Wednesday night’s game.

The whole thing was a very nice gesture from the Silverbacks, there’s no question about that. The thing is, it shouldn’t have come to this. I give the front office staff all of the credit in the world for their attempts to salvage the situation, and then for their honesty and transparency once it became apparent that nothing could be done.

Once again Boris Jerkunica's stubbornness has affected the Silverbacks in a negative way. All I can say is a G-Rated version of what I've been saying pretty much the whole time I've been a Silverbacks fan, and that is "Shame on Boris!" The fans and players deserve better, and frankly, I think everyone in the front office deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for putting up with Boris.

What everyone wishes would happen to Boris.

As a result of the aformentioned situation, not only will the Silverbacks have to face a tough Charleston Battery team, but they will have to deal with what is predicted to be intense heat on a Wednesday afternoon. It’ll be difficult, but these kind of games are what this Silverbacks team was built for. This competition is what this Silverbacks team was built for. There is no doubt that they are up to the task. If there’s any chance you can make it to Silverbacks Park, set up your tailgate early as possible, and be ready to support the Backs when the game kicks off. If not, there is supposed to be a stream so you will not be left in the dark. Either way, you don’t want to miss this game. But if you do, Planet Of The Backs will have you covered with a review of this renewed rivalry

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Silverbacks Take New Names, Conquer New Places - By Taylor Peyton

The Silverbacks continue to build momentum after wins on back to back nights against Carolina Discoveries United, and Georgia Revolution. Goals from Ebrima Njie, Mohammed Issahaku, and Alex Harlley guided the Silverbacks to a 3-0 win over Carolina United at Silverbacks Park on Friday. The very next day, Avery Shephard scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Georgia Revolution in Hampton.

With threatening weather in the area, Friday’s kickoff was delayed until 8 pm, but the worst of it managed to miss Silverbacks Park. The Silverbacks rained on Carolina United’s parade by beating them 3-0, but apart from a few showers before kickoff, the weather was fine.

Dark skies and a bit of rain over Silverbacks Park before kickoff. Image OF Dave Williamson

The game was scoreless in the first 24 minutes, but that changed when Ebrima Njie made it 1-0. Not only did Njie score the goal but he started the build up when dispossessed a Carolina player right after a throw in and passed the ball to Ferrety Sousa. Sousa then switched the play after noticing Mitch Garcia was wide open. Garcia hit the ball very powerfully into the goalkeeper’s hands. He wasn’t able to hold onto the ball, and Njie was in the right place at the right time to put it away.

Njie celebrates his goal against Carolina United. Image by Dave Williamson

The Next Silverbacks goal came in the 70th minute when a Mitch Garcia free kick from 32 yards hit the post and was then tapped in seconds after. DZ Harmon attempted to put it in initially, but intervention from a defender and a quick recovery by the goalkeeper was enough to thwart him, but there was no one to stop Mo Issahaku as he tapped in the still bouncing ball

The third and final goal came in the 90th minute when Alex Harlley buried it into the top left corner of the net from just outside the 18-yard box. The goal was assisted by Taka who noticed Harlley had created some space by using his pace, so he passed the ball to Harlley who finished the chance emphatically.
At the other end of the pitch, the Silverbacks defenders, as well as Thomas Hunter were absolutely stellar as they earned themselves a clean sheet. Thomas Hunter said afterward that the defense made him look good and he didn’t really have to make any big saves. Thomas Hunter, a fantastic keeper in his own right, had a point about the defense that night. The back three of Njie, Abdul Bangura, and Adnan Bangura were all impenetrable, and the midfield pairing of Lansana and Sousa did a great job of getting back on defense and preventing counter attacking opportunities for the visitors.

The Silverbacks were right back at it the next day, taking on the Georgia Revolution for the first time at North Mt Carmel Park in Hampton. The Starting XI that hit the pitch looked very similar to the one that had just played 90 minutes the night before, but the supposedly “tired” Silverbacks managed to strike first in the 7th minute when Avery Shephard scored his first goal of the season.

Avery Shephard scored the lone goal against Georgia Revolution. Image by Dave Williamson

The Silverbacks went into halftime with the lead, but unfortunately, it hadn't been all smooth sailing because Abdul Bangura was sent off in the 41st minute for a high challenge on a Revs player. He will be suspended for next Saturday’s game against New Orleans, but he will be able to play against Charleston on Wednesday.

With a key defender sent off, Head Coach Phoday Dolleh had no choice but to bring another one onto the field for the second half. That defender was Kemar Brown, who he entered the game along with DZ Harmon. They replaced Taka and Ferrety Sousa, respectively.

Following the red card towards the end of the first half, the match started to get chippy. There were a large number of hard challenges that led to a variety of things including a Revs player being down for an extended period of time, a red card for the Revs’ Adam McCabe, yellow cards for Alex Harlley and Rene Enang of the Silverbacks, and Kemar Brown having to be helped off the field before a set piece.

It wasn’t pretty in the end, but the Silverbacks managed to hold on to their narrow lead to pick up their third consecutive win in all competitions. It was a great accomplishment considering they had already played the night before and then had to play in a very chippy game with 10 men for the majority of it.

After the conclusion of the game, the Silverbacks Twitter account tweeted that Thomas Hunter was a “literal wall of red bricks,” and in all honesty that was a pretty fair description. Thomas Hunter made a lot of the saves that he supposedly didn’t have to make on Friday because “the defense made him look good.” Not saying that the defense did a bad job by any means, but considering how many saves he made, I think he earned his fair share of the credit on Saturday night. After having his clean sheet ruined on Wednesday by an unfair penalty decision, Hunter managed to grab two of them in as many days. Let that be a lesson to you kids out there, good things DO happen to good people.

It was a big weekend for Thomas Hunter. Image by Dave Williamson

The Silverbacks next game is against Charleston Battery at Silverbacks Park in the second round of the US Open Cup. Unfortunately, the game is scheduled to kick off at 3:30, but I’m already over 850 words, so I’ll wait until the preview for that game before I delve deeper into that controversial topic, as well as other topics about Wednesday’s clash against the hated Charleston Battery.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beaten Bantams, Rebrands, and Renewed Rivalries - By Taylor Peyton

The Silverbacks advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open Cup after a dominating 4-1 win over SC United Bantams. A goal from Abraham Lansana, two goals from Deon McCaulay, and a goal straight from kickoff by Alex Harlley were enough for the Silverbacks to earn the right to host Charleston Battery next weekend.

The game was originally scheduled to kickoff to kickoff at 3:30 pm but was delayed until 5 due to “US Soccer Clearance Issues” that ultimately kept Taka and Abdul Bangura from playing.

The Silverbacks got their first goal in the 4th minute when Abraham Lansana scored from out wide on the right side of the box. At first, it looked like a cross, but as the ball flew over the keeper and into the left side of the net, with no Silverbacks player within close enough proximity, it became apparent that it was definitely a shot

Deon McCaulay then added two goals in the 20th and 58th minutes. His first goal composed of a corner delivered by Mitch Garcia finding a Silverbacks player, then the ball being shot into the box where it took a deflection that found Deon’s feet. He made no mistake and made it 2-0. The build-up to the third goal was like poetry in motion that started when Mitch Garcia flicked it over a defender and ran around him to get the ball to Harlley, who then passed it to Deon who finished it to make it 3-0

Meanwhile, Thomas Hunter was given the start in goal, and for most of the game, he didn't put one foot wrong. He had a clean sheet going until a Bantams player went down in the box and was awarded a penalty despite the Silverbacks defender seemingly getting all ball. Leandro Brown then sent Hunter the wrong way to make it 3-1. There wasn't much of anything he could do about it, but he still played a fantastic game. Maybe if the ref in his next start is a bit more competent, he will get his clean sheet.

Thomas Hunter started in goal for the Silverbacks. Image by Dave Williamson

What happened next blew the minds of everyone who witnessed it, and also everyone who saw it on the internet hours later. Alex Harlley noticed that the Bantams keeper was off his line, so right from kick off he the launched the ball into the air, over the keeper, and into the net to make it 4-1, which was the final score.

Silverbacks Players Celebrate after Harlley's wonderstrike. Even a Bantams player can't help but clap for him. Image by Dave Williamson

Before the game against Charleston next Wednesday, the Silverbacks still have two hurdles to clear. These two hurdles are Carolina United on Friday, and Georgia Revolution on Saturday. I know what you’re thinking: “But Taylor, I have never heard of Carolina United, who the heck are they?” Well, you might remember them from last year as Carolina Discoveries, but right before the season started, they rebranded. Apparently, they thought we needed another club called “United” in America.

The name might be different, but considering that they were blown out 4-1 by Inter Nashville, a club playing the first game in their history, it seems like they’re still the same old Discoveries. Their lone goal was scored by Daniel Revivo, who played his College Soccer at Winthrop from 2005-2009. Their game against the Silverbacks will kick off at 7:30 on Friday, at Silverbacks Park.

Like Carolina United, the Georgia Revolution also lost to a team that was playing the first meaningful game in their history last Saturday. Asheville City defeated the Revs 2-1 last Saturday. Before the game against Asheville, the Revs were defeated 7-1 by Peachtree City MOBA in a friendly.
The Revs roster does look slightly better on paper this year, partly due to the signings of former Silverbacks fan favorites Bryce Billington and Borfor Carr. Saturday’s game will be the first game at North Mt. Carmel Park in Hampton, Georgia. Probably the simplest way to get to North Mt. Carmel is exiting 75 on Jonesboro Road in Mcdonough and then turning left onto N Mt Carmel Road. If you underestimate how long it takes you to get to Henry County, there’s a decent shopping center on Jonesboro Road if you need time to kill. But apart from that, there’s about as much to see as there was when the Revs played in Conyers.

The Silverbacks will be looking to continue building momentum with wins over Carolina United and Georgia Revolution before facing Charleston Battery next Wednesday. Phoday said after last night’s win against SC United Bantams that there were be lots of squad rotation and mentioned Thierry Jules as a player that we could see in one of the two games this weekend. Now, this is just pure speculation on my part, but it wouldn’t be surprising if we also saw Kris Reaves in the mix as well. He is another young, energetic player, and Phoday said in a tweet that he is the biggest thing since Peanut Butter & Jelly, so he definitely has a high opinion of him

It’s bound to be an interesting two days for the Silverbacks. Come to Silverbacks Park after getting off work on Friday, and make the trip down to the Southside and help Silverbacks fans take over the Revs’ new home, just like they took over their old home in Conyers when the two met up. When both games have been played, Planet Of The Backs will be your home for a breakdown of both games, as well as an in-depth preview of the highly anticipated US Open Cup match between the Silverbacks and the Charleston Battery.