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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fans Want Atlanta 2018 Group to "Buy The Backs" - By Taylor Peyton

Silverbacks fans have recently been blowing up Atlanta 2018's mentions on twitter trying to convince them to buy the Silverbacks name. For those that don't know "Atlanta 2018" is a group that is attempting to bring an NWSL team, as well as a professional men's team to a brand new sports complex across the street from Stonecrest Mall in Dekalb County. The league and name of the men's team has yet to be announced, but many have speculated it will either be the NASL, or the new NISA. As far as the name goes, many have speculated it'll be a Chiefs reboot, but twitter users have been trying to convince them to buy the Silverbacks name from Boris by tweeting proof of pre-existing fan dedication, linking old stories about past Silverbacks success stories, providing a few pop culture references and memes here and there for comic relief, and one user even referenced Harambe with the hashtag #BuyTheBacks. Here are some examples of the tweets:

Some other notable figures with ties to Atlanta have also gotten in on the movement, including Michael King from 11 Alive (Atlanta's local NBC affiliate), and former Silverbacks Technical Director and Head Coach Eric Wynalda

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Friendly That Won't Fry The Fans - By Taylor Peyton

After the Silverbacks were eliminated from the NPSL playoffs by the New Orleans Jesters, the fans have been left to think what could have been. Expectations were high this year in both the US Open Cup and the NPSL, but the Silverbacks ended up falling short, and it is understandable if it leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. The small consolation for the fans was that there were still friendlies against Lowcountry United at home, and another one against Savannah Clovers on the road. However, that situation has changed, and now the friendlies have a much different outlook. The game against Lowcountry is still going to be played on August 26th at Silverbacks Park, but the away game against Savannah Clovers that was scheduled to be played on August 19th is currently in limbo after the Silverbacks Twitter account announced that it was being rescheduled. Replacing it, is a friendly against the United States Men’s National Under-17 team that is scheduled to kick off at 11 am on Saturday, July 29th, at Silverbacks Park.

There is still a chance of the game against Savannah being played, but the rescheduling is unfortunate for a particular blogger (who will remain anonymous) that was planning to head down there with a bunch of his other Silverback-supporting friends , and spend the weekend in Savannah in addition to watching the team play.

The Friendly against the under-17 US National team was announced at 12:30 pm on Thursday, July 20, just 9 days before it was scheduled to take place. The kickoff time was announced as 11 am, the earliest the Silverbacks have had to kick off since preseason. The advantage to having a kickoff at 11 am is that it won’t be painfully hot like it would be at 5 pm, and the disadvantages of it are… pretty much everything else.

For the under-17 players, this friendly is part of their preparations for their World Cup that is set to take place in October of this year, in India. A few notable names in the squad include Josh Sargent who played in the under-20 World Cup earlier this summer and will be joining Werder Bremen when he turns 18. Nicolas Garcia-Morillo who is property of Atletico Madrid. Chris Durkin who made his debut for DC United last year at age 16. Jean-Julien Foe Nuphaus of Hoffenheim, and Jaylin Lindsey who became the first American born in the 2000s to make his professional debut when he first appeared for Swope Park Rangers of the USL in early 2016.  

A question on the minds of some people is what kind of lineup will the Silverbacks put out against the under-17 team. Will it be the usual suspects, or will it mostly young players whose chances were limited this year? Time will tell, but it’ll be interesting to see what kind of lineup Phoday comes up with to approach this game

As far as seeing the under-17 team goes, it’s kind of hit and miss because, for every group of young players, only a few make it big. It’ll be cool to say that you saw the players who did make it big when they were only 16-17 years old, but there will also be the players that fall off to the point where you forget that they exist and you have to check their Wikipedia page to see if they’re still playing, and where they are playing if so. I remember thinking it was a big deal when I saw Ben Spencer play for Indy Eleven against the Silverbacks back in early 2014 while on loan from Molde in Norway, because of his success with youth national teams before then. Fast forward to 2017, he is no longer playing in Europe and is currently far down the pecking order at Toronto FC.

So if you can wake up early enough, head to Silverbacks Park next Saturday morning and take in this somewhat odd, but still intriguing friendly. It’s undetermined if there will be a parking fee or not, but maybe if you catch the parking attendant before he or she has had their coffee, maybe you can sneak past them.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Surely We Won't Lose To The Revs... Right? - By Taylor Peyton

The Silverbacks form as of late has been worrying. Their last win was on June 8, and they have only earned 2 points in their last 4 games. The two draws both took place on the road against Asheville, and Birmingham respectively. In both losses at home against Asheville and New Orleans, the Silverbacks had a 1-0 lead and ended up losing the game 2-1.

The encouraging thing for the Silverbacks is that the Georgia Revolution still have not won a game this season. Their worst loss came this past Tuesday when they were annihilated 7-0 by Chattanooga at Finley Stadium. They have lost 5 straight games, and their last point came from a 2-2 draw against Asheville on June 10.

To add insult to injury, it looks their starting goalkeeper, former Silverback Bryce Billington, will not be playing in the game on Saturday. He made a post on Instagram thanking the Revs, and saying his next stop was London on Saturday. Before joining the Silverbacks, Bryce spent some time in Aberdeen, so it’s not far-fetched to think that he might be going to London for a trial with an English club.

Last time the Revs and Silverbacks faced off, the Silverbacks were victorious by a score of 1-0, after only having played against Carolina United about 23 hours beforehand. Avery Shepherd scored the game’s lone goal with a diving header, and Thomas Hunter made several great saves to preserve his clean sheet.

The history of the Silverbacks vs. Revolution rivalry is a bit complicated. Mainly because of the differentiation with the old NASL first time, and the old Reserves team that is now the First team. But if you want to go back to the last time the Revolution beat the Silverbacks, it was on  June 20, 2015 when they beat the Reserves 3-2 in Conyers. The weird thing about that game was that it was 0-0 at halftime, but then 5 goals were scored in the second half.

The scenarios are very simple for both teams. The Silverbacks are already in the playoffs, and a win over the Revolution would guarantee a home game on Tuesday against Asheville, and the Revolution would finish the season winless for the first time in their history. A win for the Revolution however, would lead to them avoiding that embarrassing record, and it would open up the possibility of the Silverbacks having to travel to Asheville on Tuesday, in addition to having to travel to New Orleans in Friday if they win their first playoff game.   

The Silverbacks are favorites in this game regardless, but these last 4 games have been tough to watch, and the disappointment from the players has been evident. This is their chance to have a statement win heading into the playoffs. A win's a win no matter what, but a lopsided victory in favor of the Silverbacks would do wonders for morale heading into the playoffs. That being said, the Silverbacks ended the 2016 regular season with two draws against Myrtle Beach Mutiny and Carolina Discoveries, only to humiliate the Carolina Railhawks 4-0 at Georgia Gwinnett College in their first playoff game (one year ago today, to be exact). So maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if it was only a 1-0 or 2-1 win.

Is it rational to feel nervous about a game against a winless team when the team you support has also been going through a rough period as of late? Of course. A large part of me feels optimistic because I’ve seen the Silverbacks play at their best, and I know what they’re capable of, but these last few games have got me feeling down so I am somewhat worried that the Revs might somehow find a way to win. The reason the games are played on the pitch instead of on paper is that nobody knows what’s really going to happen. The only way to see it all unfold is come to Silverbacks Park on Saturday, July 8.

Introducing: Planet Of The Backs TV!

When I came up with the idea to start a blog about the Silverbacks last year, my goal was to provide Silverbacks-related content for to those who wanted it. I knew there wasn’t going to be any coverage from the AJC or any other newspaper since they were going down to the NPSL, so I took it upon myself to try to be a provider in regards to such content. I kind of underestimated just how many people fit into the demographic though. Planet Of The Backs is closing in on 8,000 page views in total, which might not seem like too much to some, but it’s gained more recognition than anything I have ever done before, so it blows my mind.

Have I succeeded in accomplishing my goal? I think I have. Maybe the impact that the blog has made this year isn’t as big as the impact it made last year. I admit that is because of my own doing, but I still have a great desire to give diehard Silverbacks fans something to look at when it’s not match day, but they really need their fix. Which is why in addition to getting the blog back on track, I have decided to extend Planet Of The Backs to video format, by creating Planet Of The Backs TV.

Make no mistake, this is not a transition from written content, to video content. Such a change seems to have become a trend lately, and as someone who wants to make a career out of writing in some way, shape, or form, it is a bit troubling. It is possible for the two to coexist, however. Personally, I think it’s a requirement for the effort to be put into both of them, for the best content to be created.

Here is the link for the Youtube channel. Make sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss the great videos that I have planned following the game against the Georgia Revolution! Thank you all in advance for your support, it is because of this that Planet Of The Backs is being expanded in such a way. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Taylor Peyton

Monday, July 3, 2017

Canada's Contributions To The Silverbacks - By Taylor Peyton

As we prepare to celebrate our country’s independence with fireworks, food, and beer, our neighbors to the north are probably just now recovering from their Canada Day hangovers. Canada became an independent country on July 1st, 1867. In Canada’s 150-year-old history, they’ve offered many great things to the whole world, not just Hockey and Maple Syrup. Don’t believe me? Just have a look at some of the great Canadian Players that have played for the Silverbacks over the years

Let me just say right away, the research behind this article was pretty challenging because there simply haven’t been that many Canadians that have played for the Silverbacks. I spent this past weekend asking around, and the responses I got from the likes of Westside 109 members, Justin Hanover, and former Front Office members were pretty mixed. Some 109 members were able to provide me with the names of Women’s players, and Justin informed me that Douglas Diwa was Canadian. Me having already become a fan by the time Kyle Porter joined the Silverbacks, I didn’t really need an explanation on that one. But what you see is the results of my research. If you’re a Canadian, who played for the Ruckus/Silverbacks but aren’t mentioned; first of all, my sincerest apologies. Second of all, maybe an interview with a “forgotten Canadian Silverback” can be a good piece for Canada’s 151st birthday next year… just a thought.

Sharolta Nonen
Vancouver’s Sharolta Nonen was no stranger to Atlanta before joining the Silverbacks. After finishing her College Career with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, she played for the Atlanta Beat from 2001-03. By the time she had returned to Atlanta in 2005 to play for the Silverbacks, she had already played in her second World Cup. She scored 1 goal in 22 appearances with the Silverbacks and was just recently named the head coach of FIU’s Women’s Soccer team.

Christine Latham
In Between scoring three goals at the 2003 World Cup, and later working for Fox Sports at the end of her playing career, Christine Latham was a prolific goalscorer for the Silverbacks. Over a 4 year span from 2005-08, she scored 23 goals in 49 appearances.

Candace Chapman
As opposed to Latham and Nonen, who were already stars before joining the Silverbacks, Chapman played for the Silverbacks as her career was just getting started. After graduating from Notre Dame, she joined the Silverbacks in 2005 and made 10 appearances. Since then she has played in two World Cups in 2007 and 2011 and has was won two Bronze Medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics Games.

Alvin Hudson

Alvin Hudson was a bit of an A-League / USL journeyman. A Chicago Fire prospect who didn’t break through in MLS, Hudson had stints Milwaukee, Minnesota, and Vancouver before landing in Atlanta. Hudson only played one season with the Silverbacks in 2007 in which they made it to the championship game and fell to Seattle. He made 7 appearances for the Silverbacks.

Kyle Porter
Porter was one of many exciting signings before the 2015 Silverbacks. He had made his name playing for FC Edmonton in the NASL, and then DC United where he won the US Open Cup in 2013 over Real Salt Lake, who had knocked the Silverbacks earlier in the tournament. It’s safe to say that justice was done in the end. Well, it wasn’t so much justice as it was the thing that I wanted to happen, but it’s basically the same thing. Porter played in almost every game for the Silverbacks in the 2015 campaign and managed to score two goals. He mainly played on the wing but did have to play a few games as a striker. Since leaving the Silverbacks at the end of the 2015 season, he has had stints with Ottawa in 2016, and now the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Douglas Diwa
An unsung hero on the 2016 Atlanta Silverbacks squad that won the NPSL South Atlantic championship, Diwa was considered to be the best player in Quebec at U-16 and U-17 levels. For the Silverbacks he was an explosive winger with excellent dribbling skills that would terrorize defenders. This season he trained with the Silverbacks with a little bit, but he hasn’t been seen in a few weeks. My understanding is that it’s possible that the 22-year-old is turning his focus towards his education. If this is the case, I’m sure Silverbacks fans will wish him the best. But if it;s not the case, hopefully, he’ll be back at the Park playing again soon!

Melissa Tancredi
I know I messed up the chronological order by putting Tancredi last on this list, but I felt it was appropriate because due to her Bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Tancredi is the most recent Silverbacks-alum to achieve a significant honor. Like Chapman, Tancredi joined the Silverbacks in 2005 after graduating from Notre Dame. She played two seasons in Atlanta before heading on a journey that would take her to places such as New York, St. Louis, Sweden, and Chicago, before she retired in 2017 with two Olympic Bronze medals, (2012 and 2016) and 22 goals in 107 appearances for Canada to her name.

I hope you all enjoyed this brief history of Canada’s connection to the Silverbacks. It was a fun piece to write, as I always enjoy doing research about the history of the team, and it was also a chance to temporarily forget about the rough patch that the current team is currently going through. I’m sorry about my lack of activity, but other things have been taking up my time, but Jordan Coker has been doing an excellent job of writing Previews and Reviews of matches on the official website, so shoutout to him for picking up my slack. I promise there won’t be another dry spell on the blog from now on, and that includes the offseason. Thanks to everyone who was patient with me. One more thing, the Silverbacks last regular season game is Saturday, July 8 against the Georgia Revolution. The fireworks might not be in the sky, but it’s very possible there will be fireworks on the pitch. Enjoy your 4th of July, and make sure you come to Silverbacks Park on Saturday!