All-time regular season series: SAS leads 7-2-3
2015 head-to-head series: SAS leads 1-0-0
San Antonio has played half of its 2015 season and it's been a rocky road, to say the least. There is still time to make a run for the Fall Championship or even a top 4 finish to qualify for The Championship playoffs, but that time is dwindling. The team has made a few roster changes though that hopefully can help right the ship for a chance of a repeat.
Coming off an exciting, yet disappointing, 3-4 loss to Minnesota United a couple weeks back, the Alamo City boys were able to refocus during a bye week before flying to Atlanta for this weekends match up. The team announced a few new signings this week to help bolster the defense; GK Daniel Fernandes was acquired on loan from FC Twente of the Netherlands Eredivisie, DF Milton Palacios signed on after a stint with Guatemalan side Heredia, San Antonio native - MF Johnny Lawson - signed his first professional contract after playing with San Antonio's National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) team, Corinthians FC of San Antonio, and finally, MF Khari Stephenson is on loan from MLS side San Jose Earthquakes. Defense was definitely the theme with this round of signings in hopes of correcting a season long weakness that has led to more goals conceded in 2015 so far than in all of the 2014 season.
Fernandes was on the Portuguese roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and is likely to replace long-time Scorpion Daryl Sattler in goal. Sattler was replaced at the beginning of the season by Jon Kempin but quickly became the #1 GK again after a rough start in goal for Kempin. Sattler has been pretty solid this entire season despite the increase in goals conceded. His back line has put him in many tough situations this season. The international experience of Fernandes might be part of the cure for this porous defense. Expect to see Palacios and Stephenson to make immediate contributions to the team as well.
Q & A with Gorilla Talk's Paul Scanling.
ASC: The Silverbacks have really come on as of late, positioning themselves nicely to contend for the Fall Championship. What has been the difference for this turnaround from the Spring?
Paul: Two major factors in our turnaround - the acquisition of new players who have made huge impacts such as Kosuke Kimura, a defender who is playing at right midfield, and Pedro Mendes, who has scored three goals this week. The second factor is the 3-5-2 formation that is allowing us to maintain possession and generate more quality attacks.
ASC: Who is the MVP of the Silverbacks for 2015 so far?
Paul: No question it is the captain Simon Mensing. He is in charge on the field and everything goes through him. He has a commanding presence and barks orders loud enough to hear in the stands.
ASC: It seems as though the internet is getting all in a frenzy about the future of the Silverbacks in Atlanta. The 2015 season is half done and we haven't heard anything about possible new ownership, the possibility of a move, or if the league will hold on to the team for another year. Have you heard anything/what are the rumors around the club on this subject? When do you think any news related to this will surface?
Paul: The league has made it clear that they will not hold onto the club for another year. Find an owner, either local or not, or the club will fold. The longer this goes on without any news, the more likely it is that the club will not exist next year.
ASC: The Silverbacks play midweek this week against the Strikers, how will that affect the game versus the Scorpions?
Paul: After viewing last night's starting lineup, which was our strongest eleven, and seeing so few substitutions, I fully expect one or two other players to get significant playing time on Saturday. Look for Chris Christian, Hans Denissen and Mohammad Issahaku to get playing time. I expect Junior Burgos to sit out some as well as Paul Black or McKenzie.
ASC: Who do Silverbacks fans consider their "biggest" rival in the NASL?
Paul: We don't really have a big rival yet, but Carolina might be the first choice. They are the closest. They travel pretty well.
ASC: Prediction for Saturday?
Paul: The Scorpions are struggling now. We have a three match winning streak. That screams upset, but I think Gary Smith will have them ready. 2-0 home win.
The first time these two sides met was a 1-0 victory in Atlanta in the spring. The winning goal was scored by the NASL's leading goalscorer, Omar Cummings. The Silverbacks have seemingly turned their season around and look like one of the leagues best right now. On the other hand, San Antonio is trying to stay afloat - gasping for air. The starting XI for San Antonio should look a little different, especially in the back; look for Fernandes to be in goal, and either a combination of Stephenson and/or Palacios to help shore up the back line. San Antonio has been so up and down this year that it's hard to predict a result. The Alamo boys do have the advantages of rest and a tired Atlanta team that played a midweek game. Can they take advantage of Atlanta's short turnaround? Will the new blood be enough of an inject to help turn around the season? It starts on Saturday. 2-2 draw.
The game is this Saturday, August 8th in Atlanta. Kick-off is at 6:30pm CST. #ATLvSAS
Thanks to Paul from Gorilla Talk (@AtlGorillaTalk) for taking the time to answer some questions for me!
Soccer On -ASC
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