Coming off a 6-0 thrashing of AFC Mobile, the Silverbacks will be looking to continue gaining momentum heading into their May 16th season opener against the newly re-branded Emerald Force in Knoxville. The Jacksonville Armada is the Silverbacks' opponent this Saturday, in the first matchup between these two sides since 2015. Ironically my first away game was in Jacksonville, but that's a story for another day.
If you've attended any of the preseason games, or have been following through social media, you know by now what the core of this Silverbacks team is starting to look like. Fan favorites from recent years like Alex Harlley, Joao Johanning Mora, Abdul Bangura, Avery Shephard, and even Bryce Billington, to name a few, are back in the red and black and still very much at the top of their games. Then you have newer faces like Aaron Walker, Kebba Demba, Ryan Marcano, and new captain Sherriff Suma making great first impressions on the Silverbacks faithful. Then there's of course, the entertaining style of play that has been installed by new head coach Roberto Neves, that you have to see to believe.
The Silverbacks are looking promising for this upcoming season. That's a fair assessment. But What about the Armada? What do they have in store after announcing they'll play in the NPSL for 2018 while waiting out the ever-uncertain situation with the NASL? Some notable names on the roster include Drew Beckie, Yuma, J.C. Banks, Conor Doyle, as well as a trio of players who were part of that 2015 squad that played against the Silverbacks in the NASL; Mechack Jerome, Derek Gebhard, and Alhassane Keita.
The Armada's season starts much earlier than the Silverbacks', April 28th against Miami FC, to be exact, so there's a good chance the Silverbacks will see something very close to a provisional Jacksonville starting 11 on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 5 pm, but the friendly against Mobile was delayed a few minutes because the referees arrived late so you never know for sure. It should still be a good day at Silverbacks Park so clear your schedule to watch this relatively high-profile friendly, and cheer on the 'backs to #SinkTheArmada.