The Atlanta Silverbacks will wrap up their 2013 preseason schedule on Saturday with a great matchup against USL Pro side Charlotte Eagles at 4 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
For Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes and his staff, the majority of the preseason has been dedicated towards evaluating key trialists that could come in and make an impact as rostered players this season. For the most part, that period has come to an end, meaning Saturday’s preseason game will be a great opportunity for Silverbacks fans to see a squad that will very closely resemble the one they’ll see on April 13 when the Fort Lauderdale Strikers come to town.
Going into Saturday’s game against the Eagles, the Silverbacks’ official roster count sits at 21, but that number will swell after several more players put pen to paper in the coming days.
The early preseason evaluation period for Haynes and company meant less game action for the rostered players, but that will change on Saturday, with all of the players expected to see extended playing time. The Silverbacks are led in the back by veteran Martyn Lancaster, who will likely be paired with Beto Navarro in the center of the back line. Mike Randolph, Willie Hunt, Mark Bloom, and Shane Moroney are all viable options at the outside back positions, and some combination of them will join Lancaster and Navarro. Goalkeepers Eric Ati and Joe Nasco will likely both see time in net.
In front of the back line, Milton Blanco and Richie Menjivar will patrol the defensive midfield. Pablo Cruz and Borfor Carr have spent much of the preseason playing as outside midfielders, while Danny Barrera has lined up as more of an attacking midfielder. At the forward position, look for Jahbari Willis, Pedro Mendes and new signing Ruben Luna to get a heavy dose of minutes.
The Silverbacks run into an Eagles side that topped them by a goal last season in a preseason game in Charlotte. The Eagles have lots of new faces, though, due in part to several departures including a few to the Silverbacks – Blanco and Bloom. Head Coach Mark Steffens’ side is led by veteran goalkeeper Eric Reed.
Defensively, the Eagles are led by former Columbus Crew man Shaun Francis. They’ll also look to Brady Bryant, who returns from injury, and rookies Ben Newnam and Fejiro Okiomah for help in the back. In the midfield, veterans Juan Guzman and Joseph Kabwe are joined by a number of newcomers, including former San Antonio Scorpions midfielder Matt Gold.
Ben Page and Nate Thornton will lead the Eagles’ attack, and they’ll be looking to put pressure on Lancaster and the rest of a Silverbacks defensive unit that ended last season with four shutouts over their final seven games.
Kickoff is at 4 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park and admission is free to the public. To purchase tickets for the 2013 season, call 404-969-4900 or visit atlantasilverbacks.com.
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