The Atlanta Silverbacks played to a scoreless draw with the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night at Silverbacks Park. In what should have been a must win match for the hosts if they were to make the playoffs, the Silverbacks lacked the finishing required for the scoreboard to reflect the action on the field. Junior Burgos, who has been an offensive spark for the team since joining the squad at the beginning of the Fall season, exited the game in the first half and took with him some of the Silverbacks' imagination in the final third. The playoffs remain a flickering hope for Atlanta, as they sit five points out of the final spot with two games to play, but they would need a tremendous amount of help to do so.
The game's opening fifteen minutes were mostly controlled by the Silverbacks, looking to be the more confident side and showing no ill effect of the home defeat to the New York Cosmos in their previous outing. They controlled possession and easily won two corners early. Burgos nearly delivered another of his trademark free kick goals in the ninth minute but Rowdie goalkeeper Matt Pickens made a diving save. Unfortunately for Burgos, he was forced to withdraw from the match in the 21st minute with what appeared to an injury to his right thigh.
Whether the result of Burgos's absence or not, the remainder of the half lacked exciting moments. Kyle Porter was awarded and deserved a yellow card for kicking the ball into the advertising boards after being whistled for a foul. The Rowdies had a couple free kicks in threatening positions but neither lived up to their potential. A scoreless draw was a just score as the two sides headed into the locker rooms at the break.
The second half of play saw Atlanta continue to control the tempo of the match but fail to make any serious chances on goal. Head coach Gary Smith attempted to salvage the match by adding offensive substitutes Matt Horth and Shaka Bangura to the fray, but to no avail. The match would end with Burgos's free kick being the only shot on goal from either team.
The Silverbacks will need to win their next two matches to even sniff the post-season. They travel to Minnesota next Saturday before returning home for the final home match of the year on Halloween against Ottawa.