The Atlanta Silverbacks earned their second win in five days, topping the league-leading San Antonio Scorpions 3-1 Wednesday night in front of a crowd of 2,357 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes made few changes from the side that dominated the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday, and the squad picked up right where they left off. Defender Willie Hunt powered home his second goal of the season from a Danny Barrera corner kick, giving the Silverbacks (7-8-12) a 1-0 lead just three minutes into the game. It was Hunt’s fifth header goal in the last two seasons – an impressive tally for a defender.
The Scorpions (13-7-7) were inches away from pulling back even in the seventh minute, but forward Pablo Campos’ header hit the under side of the crossbar and bounced on the goal line before being cleared away by Silverbacks defender Martyn Lancaster.
Five minutes later, the Mendes brothers, Pedro and Paulo, began to get involved in the attack for the Silverbacks. Paulo forced an incredible save out of Scorpions goalkeeper Daryl Sattler, who dove far to his left to tip a 20-yard shot just inches wide of the post. Pedro was next up to test Sattler, but his curling free kick from 30 yards out flew just over the crossbar.
The Silverbacks were dominant in the first half, and continued to maintain control of the game following halftime. The Scorpions would climb back, however, on a bit of an odd play. While dribbling out of the back, Hunt appeared to have been fouled by a Scorpions player, but the referee allowed play to continue. Substitute midfielder Josue Soto would end up with the ball, and after a few touches, the on-loan Houston Dynamo player smashed an unstoppable shot past Silverbacks goalkeeper Daniel Illyes to make the score 2-1 in the 69th minute.
Clinching the regular season title wasn’t meant to be for the Scorpions on Wednesday night, though, as the Silverbacks would close out the game in style. In the 75th minute, Barrera played provider again for the Silverbacks, slotting a pass through the opposing defense to find Pedro. The Brazilian forward made no mistake, firing a high shot over Sattler for a 3-1 advantage.
The game, which was quite chippy at times, ended without incident, with the Silverbacks clinching their second straight win and first this season over the first-place Scorpions.
The Silverbacks will close out their season this Saturday night when they travel to Puerto Rico to take on the Islanders at 7:30 p.m. at the newly-renovated Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium. The game can be seen live online at atlantasilverbacks.com/live.