Following training on Tuesday morning, atlantasilverbacksfc.com spoke with some of the Atlanta Silverbacks players about their mindset and approach going into the team’s first game of the season.
The Silverbacks host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday, and the Strikers are a team that the Silverbacks have handled pretty well in previous seasons. The last time these two sides met back in September, the Silverbacks came away with a 1-0 victory at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. In talking with the players, that’s a result that they would love to replicate this weekend.
“I know their head coach [Daryl Shore], and he is very organized and very technical with how he handles his players,” said defender Mike Randolph. “He is going to make it very tough to pass and shoot, and they certainly won’t make it easy to get around their defense.”
Randolph is part of a Silverbacks defensive unit that has seen quite a few changes in the past year. He, along with veteran Martyn Lancaster, will need to utilize his leadership skills and experiences to help keep the defense in the right position.
“I think we have to talk to each other and communicate in order to be accountable for their strikers,” he said. “My biggest thing is leadership because I’m a veteran and I want to help push this team in a positive direction.”
While the defense will be looking to keep a clean sheet on Saturday, the attack will need to step up, especially following the departure of forward Matt Horth. Players like former FC Dallas striker Ruben Luna and former U.S. youth international Danny Barrera will be a few of the primary players looking to fill that void for the Silverbacks in 2013.
“I’m excited to be a part of the Silverbacks organization, and I think where I’ll be most effective is staying in and around the box,” Luna said. “I know that if I work hard, the goals will come.”
The Silverbacks are starting their season a week later than everyone else, which means they’ve had a bit more time to prepare for the season. With some new faces, the Silverbacks have been working on playing as a unit, and that has been a primary focus during the preseason.
“Our practices are intense and we play hard,” Luna said. “Players go in hard for 50/50 balls and we practice at a high level, so at this point we’re just hoping that will translate into the games.”
“We just need to come together and be on the same page as a team,” said midfielder Danny Barrera. “The most important thing is that we trust each other.”
Barrera and Luna will both contribute to the attack and being able to rely on teammates to keep possession and make the right choices will translate into opportunities to win games.
“We have good technical players that can keep the ball,” Barrera said, “It’s about everyone making the right decisions on the ball that will help us be successful.”
The Silverbacks won both home games against the Strikers last season and will look to add to those home victories on Saturday.
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