ATLANTA The Atlanta Silverbacks topped the second-place Puerto Rico Islanders 2-0 on Saturday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
The Silverbacks (4-17-3) and Islanders (13-6-6) played the opening 25 minutes evenly, trading early scoring chances. Islanders forward Yakiel Perez tested Silverbacks goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer from outside the penalty area early in the match, but Maurer, a native of Lawrenceville, was able to palm the ball wide to safety to keep the game scoreless.
The home team began to push forward in the middle of the first half, and in the 28th minute, Silverbacks forward Matt Horth used his 6-foot-3 frame to climb above the Islanders defense. He headed a throw-in from Silverbacks defender Shane Moroney past Islanders goalkeeper Ray Burse to give the Silverbacks a 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Horth struck again, following a long run from midfielder Raphael Cox. Cox dribbled past a pair of Islanders defenders and played the ball to Horth, who was waiting in the box to slide a shot past Burse to extend the Silverbacks’ lead to 2-0. The goal brought Horth’s total to eight for the season, vaulting him into a tie for fifth in the league in scoring and first among rookies.
The Islanders created opportunities in the second half and nearly cut into the Silverbacks’ lead in the 52nd minute. Forward Matt Bouraee poked a shot toward the goal, but Maurer came up with a diving, one-handed save to preserve the Silverbacks’ two-goal lead.
Perez threatened the Silverbacks goal soon after, but his shot from close range went just wide of Maurer’s post. Just a minute later, former Silverbacks forward Junior Sandoval, wearing an Islanders jersey for the first time this season, followed up Perez’s effort with a long-range shot that fell into the hands of Maurer.
The Silverbacks nearly made it 3-0 in the 89th minute when substitute midfielder Moussa Toure burst through the Islanders defense. Toure played a cross to forward Conor Chinn, but Chinn’s shot missed the open net by inches. The 2-0 score held, giving the Silverbacks their second shutout and fourth win of the season.