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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!

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