CARY, N.C. -- In their first game under new interim head coach Eric Wynalda, the Atlanta Silverbacks fell to the Carolina RailHawks 2-1 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The Silverbacks were energized by the presence of their new coach, but the RailHawks didn’t look phased as their first offensive chance of the game ended up in the back of the net. Midfielder Nick Zimmerman, who has been hard on the Silverbacks in the past, took a pass down the middle of the field from forward Jason Garey and sidefooted a shot past Silverbacks goalkeeper Daniel Illyes to put his team up 1-0 in the 4th minute.
Despite conceding a goal within the first five minutes of the game, the Silverbacks looked strong in the early going, and in the 12th minute, they tested RailHawks goalkeeper Ray Burse for the first time. Silverbacks midfielder Ciaran O’Brien sent a curling effort towards Burse from over 30 yards out, and all the veteran goalkeeper could do was dive to his left to palm it wide.
After Silverbacks defender Jose Burciaga Jr. forced another diving save from Burse just a minute later, they would even the score. Midfielder Nico Colaluca played the ball down the sideline for Central grad Borfor Carr, who picked out forward Matt Horth in the penalty area for a goal in the 15th minute. Horth took Carr’s pass and guided a low, eight-yard effort past a diving Burse to make the score 1-1.
In the 23rd minute, the game’s first lightning delay came, halting an entertaining start to the contest. After more than an hour of waiting, the game restarted, but didn’t make it four minutes before being delayed again due to another lightning strike in the area.
Following the second restart, the RailHawks took control of the game, creating several good scoring opportunities. Zimmerman and midfielder Ty Shipalane both saw strong shots blocked before halftime.
The home team carried there momentum out of the locker room, and just as they did in the first half, they found the back of the net within the first five minutes. A Silverbacks clearance deflected right to RailHawks defender Cory Elenio, who crossed the ball into Zimmerman to head home from eight yards. The goal made Zimmerman the league’s leading goalscorer with nine.
Although the RailHawks were in control of the possession in the second half, the Silverbacks nearly stole a point in stoppage time when O’Brien had a cross ricochet off the post and into traffic in front of the RailHawks’ net. The home team was able to frantically clear the ball, though, and clinch all three points.