Silverbacks hang on to beat Revolution in Open Cup

CONYERS -- The Atlanta Silverbacks punched their ticket to the next round of the U.S. Open Cup tournament Tuesday with a 3-2 second round win against the Georgia Revolution at the Rockdale Youth Soccer Association complex in Conyers.

The Silverbacks will now go on the road to take on Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup next Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Atlanta dominated in every area of the match, including 19 shots on goal to the Revolution's 9 shots. However, the Revolution of the amateur National Premier Soccer League kept the match close to the end.

The Silverbacks took the lead early with an unassisted goal from forward Ruben Luna at the 4-minute mark. Revolution midfielder Iain Smith, a Suwanee native, took a center pass from teammate Kwadwo Poku and scored from the right of the Silverbacks goal to tie the game at the 16th minute.

Luna struck again with a penalty kick at the 31st minute for the Silverbacks to take a 2-1 lead at the half.

As thunder and lightning sounded in the evening sky, both teams hammered each other with quick goals. The Silverbacks moved to a 3-1 lead on midfielder Pablo Cruz's goal at 57 minutes. Seconds later, the Revolution returned the favor with a goal by forward Nijkang Enag, a junior at Georgia Gwinnett College, that ended up being the final score.

Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes said his biggest concern was tired legs of his players coming from a Saturday home game against the first-place Carolina RailHawks in North American Soccer League play. He tipped his hat to the Revolution, who play in the fourth-tier NPSL.

"As far as I am concerned, the Revolution did what they had to do. They fought as hard as they could to try to win the game, and we were fortunate to get our goals," Haynes said. "There were a couple of chances where I thought we should have put it away."

The teams played physically throughout the game with 11 fouls called against the Silverbacks and 10 against the Revolution. Yellow cards were given to Silverbacks Daniel Berrera for delay of game and Richard Menjivar for rough play of grabbing a Revolution player's shorts. The Revolution had one yellow card to Dennis Kramer for a rough play.

The Silverbacks also held the advantage in shots on goal, 19 to 9, but Haynes said the rough play made it close. He said what the Revolution gave them Tuesday will be needed next week against Real Salt Lake.

"Look, look at them. They're a PDL team that's supposedly not professional players and gave us that kind of effort -- not give up, never say die attitude," he said. "It's the same thing. We're going up against the 'top league' in America, and we have to go there and give that same kind effort like they did here tonight."