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Silverbacks add three players on eve of Wynalda's home debut

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Silverbacks have signed forward Pedro Mendes and midfielders Milton Blanco and Paulo Mendes, the club announced Friday, pending USSF approval.

Twin brothers Pedro and Paulo Mendes become the fourth and fifth former Cal FC players to sign with the Silverbacks this week. The Brazilian duo played a role in the team’s run in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, helping the amateur side defeat two professional teams, the Wilmington Hammerheads of USL Pro and the Portland Timbers of MLS, before their fourth-round exit.

The Goiania, Brazil, natives most recently played with the Rhode Island Reds in the NPSL, the same league that houses the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves. The 22-year-old attackers also spent one season playing at Foothill College, a two-year institution located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“I’ve been following Pedro and Paulo for a few years, and when the opportunity came for me to put them in a professional environment, I wanted to take it,” Wynalda said. “They’re both very talented players who can really help our team, so we’re very pleased to have them.”

Blanco comes to the Silverbacks through a transfer from USL Pro side Charlotte Eagles. The 6-foot-1 midfielder brings MLS experience to the club having started his professional career with Chivas USA. After one season with the Los Angeles-based club, he would go on to play a season each with the Puerto Rico Islanders (USL), Fresno Fuego (PDL), and Harrisburg City Islanders (USL) from 2006-2008.

Blanco moved to PDL side Austin Aztex U-23 in 2009 before returning to the Fresno Fuego in 2010. With the Fuego, Blanco would enjoy a breakout season, practically sweeping the postseason awards handed out by the PDL. The former Fresno Pacific University star was named 2011 North American PDL MVP, and led the league in overall scoring and assists.

“We’re very pleased about the addition of Milton to our squad,” Wynalda said. “His positive attitude, professional approach, and tremendous abilities will help our team immensely.”

The Silverbacks made several additional player moves on Friday, releasing defenders Rilla and Kohei Matsushita and midfielders Jordan Davis and Fernando Gonzalez. All of the players, with the exception of Rilla, had been with the Silverbacks since they joined the NASL in 2011.

“I want to thank Rilla, Kohei, Jordan, and Fernando for their professionalism and dedication to the sport,” Wynalda said. “It’s always a tough day for a manager when they have to let quality players and people go, but we feel that it was in the best interest of the organization moving forward.”

The Silverbacks will host the Puerto Rico Islanders at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.