With the opening round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup right around the corner, the Atlanta Silverbacks will turn their attention towards tonight’s first-round matchup between the Georgia Revolution (NPSL) and Real Colorado Foxes (PDL). The Silverbacks await the winner of that matchup in the second round, and no matter which team they end up playing, there will be a special connection for at least one member of the Silverbacks family.
The Revolution, a local club based in nearby Conyers, is a familiar foe for the Silverbacks. The two teams met in last year’s U.S. Open Cup second round, with the Silverbacks escaping with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from midfielder Raphael Cox. Playing on that Revolution team last season was current Silverbacks defender Mark Lavery, who inked a contract with the Silverbacks about a month ago.
The NPSL club needed penalty kicks to book their place in the first round, defeating the Colorado Rovers this past Tuesday. You can bet Lavery was following the game.
“I was checking in on them, and I’m glad they ended up getting the win,” Lavery said. “Since I played for them, I obviously wish them the best, and I think it’s pretty cool we could end up meeting them in the next round.”
Despite the deep connection he has with the team, Lavery’s focus is on properly preparing for whichever team ends up advancing.
“We’re going to prepare for the Revolution or the Foxes like we would for any other pro team,” Lavery said. “That’s one thing I really admire about Brian [Haynes] and Franklin [McIntosh] – they won’t change our style for anyone and they make teams beat us.”
On the other side of the coin, if Real Colorado Foxes advance, it’ll be a special matchup for Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes and forward Brad Stisser. Haynes played for the Colorado Foxes in the early 90’s, leading them to back-to-back APSL championships. Haynes also has a long-standing relationship with current Foxes Head Coach Lorne Donaldson, who he would really enjoy going up against in the next round.
“I would love to play them because Lorne was my head coach when I played,” said Haynes. “He is a very good friend of mine and it would be a lot of fun to play against him. I know we won’t be playing against any of the guys that I played with, but it will still be special to play a team that I know about.”
Stisser, who is from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where the Foxes are based, played for the team in 2009, scoring three goals in eight appearances. It would be a special moment for him to play against one of the developmental teams that helped him reach the professional level.
No matter which matchup presents itself, one thing is for sure - the U.S. Open Cup is one of the great tournaments in any American sport. The Cup brings together teams from every tier of the U.S. soccer pyramid, setting the stage for plenty of potential upsets and magical runs. In last year’s tournament, Eric Wynalda’s Cal FC, an amateur team, made an historic run into the fourth round of the tournament by defeating USL PRO’s Wilmington Hammerheads and Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers. That Cal FC team featured current Silverbacks players Beto Navarro, Pablo Cruz, Danny Barrera, Pedro Mendes, Mike Randolph, and Richie Menjivar.
“What happens with these games is that the lower-ranked teams play like its their biggest game, almost their own personal World Cup, so they come out and give everything they have,” said Haynes. “We can’t sleep for one second on these teams because they can get a chance and that might be all they need.”
The Silverbacks will get their first taste of the tournament on Tuesday, May 21 and based on the results from the Georgia Revolution and Real Colorado Foxes game on May 14, they could host or play away from home. If the Revolution win, the Silverbacks will be traveling to Conyers to play on May 21. If the Foxes win, the Silverbacks could either host or travel to Colorado, depending on how U.S. Soccer decides to assign the game.
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