Islanders Earn Another Three Points while Keeping Silverbacks Winless
The Puerto Rico Islanders extended their lead atop the NASL table with a 3-0 Wednesday night win over the Atlanta Silverbacks in Bayamon. Now boasting a 5-1-1 2012 record, the Islanders lead the Minnesota Stars by four points in the standings while building an impressive + 11 goal differential, while the Silverbacks are at the bottom of the standings, tied with the Carolina RailHawks with four points on the season.
The first 45 minutes at the Bayamon Soccer Complex was a scoreless affair. Atlanta Coach Alex Pineda Chacon started newcomer Joe Nasco in goal and were missing midfielder Shane Moroney due to red card suspension. Nasco, a 27-year-old rookie making his professional debut, was tested early by a Gregory Richardson shot but was able to make the save. Reinaldo Navia, with five goals already to his credit, saw Islanders’ keeper Richard Martin save his chance while a 34th minute opportunity provided by Navia for teammate Borfor Carr hit the far post. Jonathan Fana tested Nasco late in the half but the rookie again was found worthy of the challenge.
Fana’s performance, as usual, had an impact on the game as the Dominican Republic international drew a red card early in the second half when fouled by Silverbacks defender Martyn Lancaster. Nasco again came up big, saving David Foley’s resulting penalty kick, but Foley pounced on the rebound to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead and put himself in the lead for the NASL scoring title.
Lancaster’s ejection meant the Silverbacks had to play a man down for the final 40 minutes of the match, a tough proposition on the road. Efforts by Silverbacks midfielder Danilo Turcios and forward Matt Horth demonstrated that the Atlanta club were still lively, but eventually the Islanders sewed up the three points when Hector Ramos, who scored last weekend, notched another goal from close range in the 78th minute and substitute Tyler Wilson added a goal six minutes later, assisted by Josh Hansen. Adrian Whitbread’s Islanders outshot the Silverbacks 13-3 in the second half, forcing Nasco into making seven saves in his pro debut. Goalkeeper Richard Martin earned his fifth clean sheet of the young season while Islanders danger-man Fana had more shots (six) than the entire Silverbacks squad (five) during the match.
What looked like a promising season for the Silverbacks has started poorly for the club as they still seek their first 2012 win. Lancaster’s red card was the sixth issued to Silverbacks players in seven league matches, twice as many as any other team has accrued. They have also accumulated a league-high 18 yellow cards, tied with the Islanders, and have racked up 113 fouls as the team is 1/4 of the way through the season.
Atlanta returns to Silverbacks Stadium Saturday night for a matchup with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The Islanders, on the other hand, have been the league’s best club through the early going and will play in Carolina Saturday before beginning defense of their Caribbean Football Union (CFU) championship.