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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

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