An early red card doomed the Silverbacks to defeat on Tuesday night against Minnesota United. With the games ticking away in the NASL Fall Season, three points are a must for Atlanta as Carolina visits Silverbacks Park. The Railhawks have sputtered in the Fall Season, only winning one of their last five games. Of course, that win was against Atlanta on September 4.
Lost 2-1 vs. Minnesota United (goal by Mendes)
Lost 2-0 at Carolina Railhawks
Won 1-0 vs. FC Edmonton (goal by Burgos)
Lost 3-1 at Minnesota United (goal by Danso)
Drew 3-3 at San Antonio Scorpions (goals by Novo, Shipalane, da Luz)
Won 2-0 vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (goals by Albadawi, Tobin)
Ceus; Black, Mensing, Christian; Mendes, Reed, Porter, Burgos, Kimura; Chavez, Mendes
The biggest question mark is who will replace Rauwshan McKenzie, who received a red card early in Tuesday's match. Up to that point, McKenzie had played every minute of every game for the Silverbacks in 2015 and his steady presence will be sorely missed. Christopher Christian was recently recalled from his USL loan and would be the most likely candidate to replace McKenzie. Abdul Bangura is another possibility, however he hasn't played since an injury early in the September 4th match in Carolina.
Fitzgerald; King, Danso, Scott, Wagner; Engel, Hlavaty, da Luz, Albadawi, Shipalane; Catic
Tiyi Shipalane's speed has always caused the Silverbacks problems, Kyle Porter will have his hands full with him. Austin da Luz is a creative player on the left side who must be contained. Nazmi Albadawi has really come into his own this season, often attacking as a second forward behind Carolina's #9 in their 4-5-1 setup.
1- Defensive reorganization
Atlanta will have to find a way to cope without McKenzie tonight, and how well they do so will likely decide the game. Their last match with Carolina was shaped by the absence of Simon Mensing due to a red card suspension, and the early injury substitution of his replacement Abdul Bangura. The defense was shaky as a result. Whether it's Christian or Bangura who replaces McKenzie tonight, the chemistry of the back three will likely go a long way to deciding tonight's result.
2- Giving Junior Burgos opportunities to create
As witnessed by his killer pass to Pedro Mendes on Atlanta's goal Tuesday night, Junior Burgos might be the most important catalyst in the Silverbacks attack. His ability to create opportunities for others is often overlooked due to his outstanding shooting ability and free kick taking. With the Silverbacks struggling in recent weeks to create chances, finding Burgos in good spots will be critical to breaking down the Carolina defense.
3- Now or never
Opportunities to close ground on both the NASL Fall Season table and the combined standings are starting to run out, three points at home against a team behind them in the standings is a must. While the Silverbacks currently sit in 8th place in the combined standings, they are only five points out of the last playoff spot. Wins are critical to having a chance to play in November.
How to Watch
Who: Atlanta Silverbacks vs. Carolina Railhawks
Where: Silverbacks Park, Atlanta, GA
When: Saturday, September 19, 7:30 p.m. ET