Fans vote to keep Silverbacks' name

ATLANTA -- After a couple of months of promotions and marketing for the Decision 2012 campaign, Atlanta-area soccer fans voted to keep the team's name Silverbacks over Chiefs and Atlanta FC.

"(The choice) did kind of surprise me a little bit," Silverbacks chairman and owner Boris Jerkunica said. "The Chiefs had such a strong kind of nostalgic, emotional following from the years that they've been around. But I think I would've been happy either way."

Jerkunica announced the results at a gathering at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Atlanta. Team advisor Eric Wynalda served as emcee for the event and gave the crowd a warm-up with a story about how Brookwood grad Jahbari Willis came aboard from the reserve team after Wynalda's hiring as interim coach.

Wynalda said the vote, which the Silverbacks won by a plurality of 47 percent, was a little surprising because of the history of the Chiefs in the city. But he was glad it was the fans who got to choose what the team looked like going forward.

"The modern team, the brand that has been building, is the Silverbacks," Wynalda said. "And that's the future of the club. The right decision was to let our fans, our core fans, decide who they wanted to be."

Other guests on hand included general manager Andy Smith, coach Brian Haynes, and players Matt Horth, Martyn Lancaster, Tony McManus and Central grad Borfor Carr.

Lancaster, who has played with the team in both the USL and the NASL, was pleased with the fact the fans were allowed to make the choice.

"It's great that the fans get to decide who they want the club to be named because it's a family club," Lancaster said. "It's very unusual to find a club that has the ability to do that. It just goes to show that it's a family club here."

Haynes, who was picked by Wynalda after the former MLS and U.S. national team star left in August to return to his Fox Soccer broadcasting duties, said he is hoping the new logo, which also will be chosen from fan entries, will add something different to give the club a fresh start going into next season.

"But (Jerkunica) is the one who has been around for 12 years with this," Haynes said. "So now it's time for us to make it something new from the standpoint of what we put on the field and get the kind of results we need to have."