Atlanta Silverbacks earned a well-deserved 4-2 win over FC Carolina United in Charlotte Saturday night. Atlanta was led by star forward Joao Johanning Mora, who had a hat trick in the decisive victory. After a passive start, the Atlanta attack was poised to continue a stellar start to the season. “The most important thing is the team mentality”, said Johanning, who leads the team in scoring this season. That team mentality gave plenty of players chances tonight, but it was Joao converting on three different occasions.

The match began as a back and forth between the two attacks, but Johanning Mora struck first in the 24th minute. Just two minutes later, FCCU got on the board with a strike from forward Darragh Rainsford. A consistent attack from Atlanta provided plenty of chances as time went on in the first half. Atlanta had multiple great breaks on the FC Carolina GK, only to be called offsides. Joao got on the board again in the 33rd minute with an excellent pass in the box from fellow forward Avery Shepard. When it looked like the ‘Backs had gained control of the match, Rainsford struck again for FCCU, heading in a cross into the box in the 45th minute. The match was a 2-2 tie at the break.

After a first half dictated by long balls and possession, Atlanta managed to break free. “I think we were playing their game, long ball back and forth. Running and running,” said captain Mitch Garcia. “At the half, we said ‘we need to start playing our game. Knocking a little more.’ We figured it out and got a couple of good goals.”

The Atlanta attack continued to let its presence be known in the second half. Joao’s initial bid for a hat trick was a strike past the FCCU GK that rolled onto the goal line in the 61st minute. Just inches from his third of the night, only to be cleared away by a defender. Not to be deterred, Johanning Mora struck a third time in the 66th minute on an assist from Alex Nyarko Harlley.

Newcomer Keka added an exclamation to the night with a slick fourth goal. A brilliant pass into the box allowed Keka to navigate a diving keeper and sliding defenders until he was left with an open net.

“He’s got a lot of potential,” Johanning said of Keka, “He’s going to bring something new to the team.”

With the road win and an Asheville City SC draw against Inter Nashville FC, the Silverbacks hold a three-point advantage in the conference. Atlanta continues their road trip with a visit to the Knoxville Force this Thursday at 7:30 pm.

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