The Atlanta Silverbacks Football Club defeated Emerald Force SC 3-0 at Sansom Sports Complex on Wednesday night. The Silverbacks were led by young forward Mohammed “’Keka” Kamara, who had two first half goals to set the tone. Goalkeeper Theo Blachon notched a shutout in his first NPSL start as Atlanta rolled to a 1-0-0 start in 2018.
The ‘Backs asserted their dominance early and often on a comfortable night in Knoxville, avoiding potential rain along the way.
Head coach Roberto Neves was finally managing his team in a league match after navigating the lengthy preseason. He wanted to establish possession and pressure from the first whistle.
“In the early minutes, we pressured them pretty well across the board. We did not give them any space and controlled the possession and pace of the match.”
In the 19th minute, captain Sheriff Suma lofted a free kick into a dangerous position around the six-yard box. Kamara redirected the ball in for the first goal of the season. Kamara followed up with a second goal to cap off the first half in the 39th minute. Despite a 2-0 halftime lead, Neves still had adjustments to make.
“At the half, I took out [winger] DZ [Harmon], [center back] Abdul [Bangura], and [forward] Nyambi [Jabang] for [winger] Ryan [Marcano], [midfielder] Alexandre [Silva], and [center back] Tacchi. We gelled much better in the second half and closed out the win.”
In the second half, left back/winger Ibrahima Sissoko slotted home the third goal of the day in the 66th minute. The road effort was a fantastic way to start the NPSL season.
For center back Mo Issahaku, getting a victory can be harder earlier in a season.
“The first win is always hard to get,” he noted. “We were fortunate enough to get it in our first outing. Now it’s on to the next match for us.”
Veteran midfielder Alex Nyarko Harlley knows that the first win was important.
“First game, first win, and the whole team played very well.”
Even after a good performance, Harlley mentioned that the offense still has room to improve.
“We had more scoring opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on, but getting the three points was most important. Coach stressed that at the beginning.”
For this veteran team, there is no looking beyond the next opponent.
“It was a great overall team performance. We’re taking it one game at a time. We’re looking forward to the next one on Saturday in Asheville.”
The Silverbacks continue NPSL play this Saturday when they travel to face Asheville City SC at 7:00 pm. Atlanta will host the same opponent on Saturday, May 26th in their home opener at Silverbacks Park. Get your single match tickets and season ticket packages today at atlantasilverbacksfc.com.
Contributo: Jordan Coker/Atlanta Silverbacks FC
Photo Credit: Dave Williamson Photography