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Rejuvenated Silverbacks get first home win of year

ATLANTA -- Again the Silverbacks were up a pair of goals late in a game and conceded a late goal that kept their opponent in the game. But this time, Atlanta held strong and didn't give up an equalizer.

Nico Colaluca and Matt Horth scored for the Silverbacks on Saturday, leading them to a 2-1 win over the Islanders on Saturday and giving the club its first home win of the year.

It was the second win for Atlanta (3-5-9, 14 points) under interim head coach Eric Wynalda in just his third game on the bench. The win also lifted the team out of last place, moving a point past FC Edmonton.

"We should be very proud of the team, the effort," Wynalda said. "The whole week was good. It was the first week we really had to work together, and I feel like this team is coming together."

It looked like Atlanta and Puerto Rico might go into the half deadlocked, but Nico Colaluca broke the tie in the 45th minute. Brookwood grad Jahbari Willis, also making his home debut, won a ball on the right side of the box. As he was going down with a defender, he flicked the ball back to Ciaran O'Brien. A cross from O'Brien went over goalkeeper Richard Martin and caused a collision between Martin, one of his teammates and Matt Horth.

Martin was able to slightly tip the ball, but Colaluca collected the deflection and knocked in his first goal of the year.

Willis was excited to get involved on a goal after watching the club as a fan for nearly a decade.

"I was trying to turn the corner on the guy, and then he kinda clipped the back of my heel, so I went down. But I was like, 'You're coming down with me,'" Willis said. "I looked, I saw Ciaran behind me, and I was like, 'You're going to do something amazing with it.' Any time Ciaran's on the ball in the corner, I know the ball's in good hands. He's like State Farm."

The Silverbacks pressed in the second half and nearly doubled their lead on a chance from Martyn Lancaster in the 50th minute. In the 63rd minute, Horth made the connection.

Horth received a pass from Jose Burciaga Jr. near the spot, and Horth took a left-footed shot on goal. Martin was unable to handle the shot, and it trickled in to his right for a 2-0 Atlanta lead. It was Horth's third goal in three games under Wynalda.

"It looks like (Wynalda) has rubbed off on me a bit," Horth said with a grin. "He went out there and told me at the beginning of the second half, 'Just go out there and just play. Your body knows how to play. You've played this game for years. Just go out and play. Don't think about it.'

"The ball came in great from Jose. ... I chested it down, it sat up perfectly for me and I just hit it."

Gregory Richardson brought the Islanders (8-4-5, 28 points) back to within a goal with a score on a breakaway in the 86th minute. But the Silverbacks were able to hold off the late charge this time and secure an important victory.

"It feels great. We're on a roll, we're excited," Central grad Borfor "Buff" Carr said. "Obviously we have another game coming up next weekend. We're going to enjoy this tonight. But come Monday, Tuesday, we're back to work and preparing for Edmonton."