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Atlanta advances past Austin in penalties
- US Open Cup First Round -

Atlanta Silverbacks News Release -

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

AUSTIN, TX -- The Atlanta Silverbacks advanced to the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Tuesday, coming back from a goal down twice, and playing a man down for the final 20 minutes before winning in penalty kicks versus the PDL Austin Aztex Tuesday night.

Watson gave the PDL Aztex the initial leadMac Kandji leveled the score at one in the 83rd minute, and David Hayes converted a penalty kick in the 113th minute to again level the score. All five Silverback penalty takers converted their shots.

“They are better than the average PDL team,” said head coach Jason Smith. “They played us really well tonight, but I think we were too much for them in the end.”

The Silverbacks started the match with a close approximation to the starting lineup used in last Friday’s league fixture with Puerto Rico: Ryan McIntosh in goal, Hayes, Josh Bolton, Matt Bobo, and Justin Moore across the back. In the midfield Kandji started on the right flank for the suspended Ansu Toure, who was forced to miss the match due to a sending off he received in USOC play last year while with Minnesota. Scott Buete and Tony McManus assumed their usual holding roles in the middle, and Rodrigo Rios roamed the left flank. Up front the Silverbacks went with Jason McLaughlin and Jerson Montiero. Blake Camp, Chris Mahaffey, Martyn Lancaster, and Zach Kirby were all used as substitutes.

After a slow opening 20 minutes, the Silverbacks began to find their rhythm, creating several golden opportunities in front of the Aztex net.

“We had four or five chances in the first half,” Smith said. “If we could have put one or two of those away, it would have been a very different game.”

The, with time left only on the referee’s watch, Austin’s Jamie Watson managed to poke in a loose ball from inside 12 yards to sent the home club to the dressing room with the lead.

Looking to play giant killers, the PDL side held on as the Silverbacks stepped up the pressure with the game winding down, pushing considerable numbers forward. In the 79th minute the Aztex were whistled for a foul in the penalty area. But the usually steady Hayes spot kick attempt was saved by Miguel Gallardo.

Three minutes later Kandji pulled the game level again, running onto a ball and dancing around a defender and Gallardo before putting the ball into the goal for the equalizer.

“Mac was just a little too much for them,” Smith said.

In overtime the Silverbacks continued to barrage the Aztex goal. Mahaffey nearly put the Silverbacks in the lead in the 99th minute, just missing a loose ball in the six-yard box. Incredibly he was shown a straight red card for his sliding attempt at the ball, forcing the Silverbacks to play a man down the remaining 21 minutes.

Austin took advantage of the confusion as the Silverbacks sorted out playing a man down. Willy Guadarrama — on his first touch after entering the match — managed to put the home club again in the lead against the run of play.

With time running out the Silverbacks threw everyone forward. In the 113th minute Hayes took the ball to goal, pushing the ball past Gallardo, who did his best impression of a linebacker, pulling Hayes to ground.

Hayes dusted himself off and stepped up and this time buried the spot kick, leveling the game again with seven minutes to play.

Content to try its hand at penalty kicks, Austin managed to run out the clock. Bolton, Camp, Kandji, and McLaughlin all coolly finished their kicks. The Aztex’s second shooter, Beto Papandrea, missed his, but the remaining three shooters put their shots away, putting the pressure again on Hayes’ shoulders. Hayes again stepped up for his third penalty kick of the night, slotting it past Gallardo to put the Silverbacks in to the second round.

“I have to give them credit,” Smith said. “They gave us one hell of a game.”

The Silverbacks will face fellow USL-1 club Miami F.C. Blues in the second round on Tuesday June 24 at Tropical Park.

Next the Silverbacks travel to Portland for a Thursday league fixture, and then on to Minnesota on Saturday.

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