Late Monday night, while most of the country was watching the College Football Playoff Championship Game, the NASL released a statement saying that the Atlanta Silverbacks would cease operations. The club won't play in 2016 or for the foreseeable future. The club was operated by the league in 2015 and, after extensive searching, the league could not find suitable owners to take it over. The new MLS franchise, Atlanta United, set to begin play in 2017, will be the only pro-soccer team in town. Many in the soccer landscape felt that, even with new ownership, that Atlanta would not survive once United began play; it looks like it won't get that chance to compete with it. The presence of Atlanta United probably discouraged many of the potential investors for the Silverbacks.
Aside from the founding MLS teams, and a few select lower division teams, Atlanta was one of the longest tenured soccer clubs in the United States. Founded in 1995 as the "Atlanta Ruckus", the club renamed to the Atlanta Silverbacks after the 1998 season. It joined the modern NASL in 2011, won the 2013 spring title and hosted the championship game in 2013, losing to the New York Cosmos.
While this is unfortunate for the league, the NASL is continuing to expand with solid ownership, including 3 clubs set to join in 2016.
This is also sad for the loyal fans of the Silverbacks. It's never easy to see the team you love disappear. The league has stated it still believes in the Atlanta market, so hopefully sometime soon, an investor comes along to be able to bring the team back.
This leaves the NASL with 11 teams in the spring and 12 in the fall of 2016 when PRFC joins.
San Antonio and Atlanta fans alike had already seen the game they watched this past Saturday night.
Not exactly, but pretty close.
The Atlanta Silverbacks were in town visiting the Scorpions and took control of the game early. Two early goals from Jaime Chavez and Rauwshan McKenzie looked to deflate any hopes that the home team would come away with anything from this game. But the Scorpions never gave up. Nana Attakora opened up his NASL account with his first goal of the season to bring the Scorpions within 1 heading into halftime. Early after the break, Atlanta was able to restore its 2 goal lead, but couldn't hold on to it. Marvin Chávez scored a golazo from a feed by César Elizondo to make the last 10 minutes of the game very exciting. In the final minute of regulation, the Scorpions were putting on the pressure to find an equalizer. They got it when, after multiple attempts, a fortunate rebound from Ceus, the Atlanta goalie, landed in front of Elizondo who headed it just past the goal line to seal a point for both teams.
The last time these two teams met, in Atlanta, the Silverbacks were up 3-1 but failed to secure all three points as the Scorpions were able to crawl their way back for an away draw. That game and this game were eerily similar and ended with the same outcome.
All-time regular season series: SAS leads 7-3-3
2015 head-to-head series: SAS leads 1-1-1
The San Antonio Scorpions return home to Toyota Field to play host to the Atlanta Silverbacks. This will be the final meeting between the two sides. San Antonio took the first meeting, a 1-0 away victory at Silverbacks Park but had to overcome a 3-1 deficit to draw the second meeting, again in Atlanta. Both teams are technically still in the playoff hunt, although more realistically for the Silverbacks as they are only four points behind 4th place.
While earning 3 points will be a welcome site for the Scorpions, this game will also have special meaning to a certain defender with a Jamaican flair. When Stephen DeRoux steps on the field for Saturday's game, he will take sole possession of the Scorpions' all-time games played record (NASL regular + post-season games only). Original Scorpion, Greg Janicki, has held the record at 68 games. DeRoux has had this entire season to catch up to that number since Janicki left to play for the Indy Eleven. DeRoux will also take the lead in minutes played for the club in the following game, assuming he plays all 90 minutes. He's been a staple in the back for the Alamo City boys since he arrived here in 2013. This is definitely a momentous occasion for him and the club; adding 3 points along with it wouldn't be bad, either.
Alamo Soccer City on Gorilla Talk with Paul Scanling
Take a listen to Paul's interview with me:
The team will need to be focused for this game if they want a chance at 3 points, especially with the speculation of what may become of the team if the stadium and/or team is sold. While it's been known that the stadium and team were up for sale, not much has been reported on it except for bits and pieces here and there. Chris Hockman from the San Antonio Soccer Examiner reported earlier this week that Bexar County is close to purchasing Toyota Field. He also notes that the Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SS&E) are looking to have their own soccer team within the next two years. Whether or not that is the Scorpions, or their own team, is yet to be determined. SS&E have a USL franchise license and would likely move the Scorpions to USL, or create their own USL team in San Antonio. All of this is still undecided and we will just have to wait and see how the events unfold. I know fans are uneasy with unknown for the club, so a focused and determined win this weekend will help cope with that.
While the team came out flat against the Rowdies, the Scorpions have played better at home. This will be a low scoring game and I'll give the edge to the home team.
Thanks to Paul for having me on Gorilla Talk! You can follow him on Twitter @AtlGorillaTalk and on SoundCloud.
Game time is 7:30 pm CST at Toyota Field. #SASvATL
Soccer On -ASC
The San Antonio Scorpions earned a 3-3 draw against the Silverbacks in Atlanta Saturday night. The draw brings the Scorpions' fall season record to 1-2-3 (5 pts) and a 9th place standing. Omar Cummings, the Jamaican international, increased is goal tally to 10 on the season, best in the NASL by 3 goals.
After giving up the opening goal, Cummings headed in a high arching ball off a throw in by Zourab Tsiskaridze that just slipped by Atlanta's goalie, Steward Ceus. Shortly after intermission, the Silverbacks (4-2-2, 14 pts) added two more goals, just minutes a part. One goal came off a free-kick from Junior Burgos who hurled the ball past Matt Cardone, surely a Play of the Week nominee. But the Alamo City boys did not give up. Both Billy Forbes and Omar Cummings netted second half goals that completed the comeback and secured an away point.
Of the new signings for the Scorpions this past week, only Khari Stephenson, the San Jose loanee, saw any playing time. We'll have to see if Fernandes and Palacios suit up for San Antonio's next game - an away match against the Spring Champion New York Cosmos.
Goals have seemed to come a little easier for the Scorpions in the fall season, but the defense has yet to improve - in fact, it has given up more goals in 6 games in the fall than it did through 6 games in the spring. Somehow though, San Antonio is still in the race for a top 4 finish and a berth in the post season Championship. With a game in hand, San Antonio is only 6 points removed from being in 4th place in the combined standings.
Next weeks game against the Cosmos will be tough. The Cosmos shutout the Scorpions in their spring matchup, a 0-3 away defeat for the Alamo boys. With 14 games remaining in the season, time is running out if the Scorpions want a chance for a repeat.
Soccer On -ASC
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