The Atlanta Silverbacks lost to Minnesota United FC on the road Saturday night, 1-0. The loss, combined with Tampa Bay defeating Carolina, officially brings Atlanta's hopes of reaching the NASL playoffs to an end. After conceding a penalty to Christian Ramirez in the 9th minute, the Silverbacks had to play from behind for nearly the entire match. Despite their best efforts to keep the dream alive, they were held out and forced to return to Atlanta without any points.
Knowing that the match was a must win for the Silverbacks, things almost got off to a dream start before turning to disaster. In the 8th minute, Golden Ball nominee Jaime Chavez darted across the pitch from the right touchline to get on the end of a Abdul Bangura through ball and was alone on goal, but his finish was over the bar. Minnesota quickly moved the ball upfield on the following goal kick and Simon Mensing was forced into a difficult challenge on Kalif Alhassan as the winger tried to cut around the captain in the penalty area. The league's second leading scorer Ramirez easily converted the penalty, bringing his tally to 12 goals on the year.
Minutes later, the Silverbacks looked to get back in the match when Paul Black (another Golden Ball nominee) delivered a free kick that connected with Rauwshan McKenzie, but his header was deflected off the woodwork.
The rest of the half saw the visitors absorb some brutal pressure from the hosts and break on goal when the opportunity arose. Goalkeeper Steward Ceus was called into action on multiple occassions and did well to keep the Loons from adding to their lead.
The second half held a lot of promise for Atlanta as they were able to gain more control of the ball and command the tempo of the match. Despite adding offensive substitutes Matt Horth, Kyle Porter, and Paulo Mendes, the equalizer would not come, a fitting summation of the Silverbacks season long struggles in front of goal.
The Silverbacks will play their final game of the year at home against the fall season champs, Ottawa Fury FC, next Saturday, October 31, at 4 pm.