The Atlanta Silverbacks traveled to New York on Sunday to play the Cosmos in the first of two matches to be played in four days. Although being out possessed for a majority of the game, Atlanta was able to strike first and leave New York with a draw after allowing a late own goal. With head coach Gary Smith suspended, Director of Scouting and Player Recruitment Ricky Clark faced a daunting task of taking on a dominant team on their own turf. He and his team did just enough to survive the the challenge and keep the Silverbacks' slim playoff hopes alive.
The Cosmos came out of the gates fast and pressed the Silverbacks from the whistle. The opening fifteen minutes were dominated by New York and Raul had multiple chances to put one past Atlanta's Steward Ceus, but the Haitian national was equal to them.
Despite being tested by a seemingly endless onslaught, it was the Silverbacks who tallied a goal first as Junior Burgos delivered a free kick to Michal Mravec whose header beat New York's Jimmy Maurer in the 37th minute. It was a just reward for Burgos as he was the one who won the free kick after being fouled by Ayoze Garcia six yards outside of the area.
The lone goal remained the difference at the half. Atlanta had to feel fortunate to hold such a lead as their defense had to absorb pressure for nearly the entire half and were able to produce few opportunities in the attack.
After the break, the Silverbacks seemed to be invigorated by their good fortune and pressed the hosts, looking to add to their lead. In the 47th minute, Real Madrid legend Raul pulled up on a run and had to receive treatment on his right ankle. Five minutes later, he was subbed off and replaced by Ruben Bover.
In the 70th minute, the Cosmos won one of their numerous corners of the afternoon and Ayoze sent in the cross. Captain Simon Mensing was unable to handle the ball and deflected into his own net. As disappointing as it was for defense that held for so long, it was certainly a deserved goal for New York who had seen their efforts turned back repeatedly.
The final 20 minutes saw both teams try to break the deadlock but to no avail. The fixture finished for the second ceonsecutive time. The two sides will try to end the stalemate for a third time on Wednesday at Silverbacks Park.