Special Photo: Ron Holt
Atlanta Silverbacks' Mark Bloom (21) clears a ball from Fort Lauderdale Strikers' Jemal Johnson (9) in an NASL soccer game Saturday at Atlanta Silverbacks Park in Atlanta.
ATLANTA -- With last week's slate of NASL games all ties, the Silverbacks came into their opener Saturday hoping to jump ahead. A couple of late goals by two former Cal FC players helped them do just that.
Beto Navarro broke the scoreless deadlock in the 86th minute off a throw-in from Shane Maroney, and Danny Barrera connected two minutes later to bring Atlanta a 2-0 win over Fort Lauderdale.
"By us winning our game, I feel like we put ourselves a step ahead with a game in hand," Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes said. "We're going into Tampa next week hoping they had a bad result ... so we can go upset the apple cart a little bit more."
Navarro scored when Maroney, who has displayed his talent for long throw-ins numerous times, heaved the ball from the sideline. Navarro was being marked by Toni Stahl, and as both players fell to the ground, the ball was redirected into the net for a 1-0 Atlanta lead.
"We're glad we have Shane Maroney," Navarro said. "He has that long throw, and that's something important that comes in at the end of the game. I got into the box, Shane was able to throw a nice throw-in in and I was able to get on the end of it."
With Fort Lauderdale (0-1-1, 1 point) still one play away from potentially tying the game, Atlanta (1-0-0, 3 points) quickly struck again two minutes later. Milton Blanco took the ball downfield on the left side on a counterattack and found Barrera running down the right. Barrera dribbled into the box and hit a shot past goalkeeper Matt Glaeser for a 2-0 lead.
"It's crucial (to get a second goal)," Barrera said. "Ten minutes left and you're up 1-0, which is very dangerous. We needed that little comfort to go ahead and finish out the game."
Central grad Borfor Carr was a part of a couple of the team's better chances while the game was still scoreless. After he received a yellow card for a tackle outside the Atlanta box in the 78th minute, Fort Lauderdale's free kick went off the wall of Silverbacks. Carr raced about 70 yards downfield and passed it off to Brad Stisser, whose shot went just wide right.
"I saw the space, and I knew I had to take it," Carr said. "I kept going, and my strikers came along with me. It's like Haynsie always tells us, 'Go at the defender. Make him commit.' They kept backing up, so I kept going until one of them made a move. I saw Brad open, and I laid it off for him. It was an unlucky touch for him."
Carr got a shot off himself in the 60th minute after he hit a corner long. The ball was played back to him on the left side, and his shot was saved by Glaeser.