We've been saying this for a while now, but tonight's match at Silverbacks Park is essentially a must-win game for the home team. With four games left to play, the Silverbacks are three points out of the final playoff spot. Their draw in New York on Sunday keeps them within striking distance.
New York already has a slot in the playoffs due to the Spring Season championship and they're fighting off that championship hangover in recent weeks. The Cosmos haven't won in nearly a month and will need to start finding the right form as they prepare for the playoffs.
Drew 1-1 at New York Cosmos (goal by Mravec)
Drew 3-3 at San Antonio Scorpions (goals by Chavez , McKenzie)
Won 2-1 vs. Carolina Railhawks (goals by Mendes, Porter)
New York Cosmos
Drew 1-1 vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (own goal)
Lost 2-1 at FC Edmonton (goal by Senna)
Lost 4-1 vs. Ottawa Fury (goal by Flores)
Ceus; Black, Mensing, McKenzie, Kimura; Porter, Mravec, Reed, Okafor; Burgos; Chavez
The Silverbacks have changed from their 3-5-2 to a 4-5-1 in recent weeks. The move allows Jaime Chavez to play as a more traditional #9 and frees up Junior Burgos to float and find space. It also allows Kyle Porter and Jon Okafor more freedom to get forward and attack.
New York Cosmos
Maurer; Ayoze, Caceres, Guenzatti, Freeman; Restrepo, Chirishian, Szetela, Mulligan, Mkosana; Diosa
With a midweek game away, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Cosmos sit both Senna and Raul tonight. Both played on Sunday, although Raul left in the 53rd minute with an ankle injury.
1- Three points are required
A loss or a draw really don't help the Silverbacks at this point in the season. Ft. Lauderdale is in the final playoff spot with a three point advantage over Atlanta and a game in hand. FC Edmonton and Tampa are also three points ahead of the Silverbacks on the same number of games. With three of their last four at home, Atlanta needs to run the table to close out the season and put the pressure on the other teams.
2- Breaking the streak
Since the Cosmos returned to the NASL for the fall season in 2013, they have not lost to the Silverbacks. In eight games between the teams, New York has won five and three have ended up in draws. Both meetings in 2015 have ended in a draw. Tonight has to be the breakthrough for Atlanta.
3- Jaime Chavez and Junior Burgos
Chavez and Burgos have been the keys for Atlanta in the Fall Season, and they will be vital tonight. Both of them have shown an unselfish streak this season, creating chances for others as often as they've created chances for themselves. With the change in formation, Porter and Okafor can get forward to take advantage of the space Chavez and Burgos can create.
How to Watch
Who: Atlanta Silverbacks vs. New York Cosmos
Where: Silverbacks Park, Atlanta, GA
When: Wednesday, October 7, 7:30 p.m. ET
How: ONE World Sports