One of the many interesting aspects of amateur soccer in the United States is the variation of when the season begins for individual clubs. Prior to the two clubs going head to head in the first round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, the Atlanta Silverbacks of the National Premier Soccer League started their 2017 campaign on May 6 with a 2-1 loss against Birmingham Hammers, while South Carolina United Bantams of the Premier Development League are not set to play their first league match until May 23.
The Silverbacks were able to take full advantage of having one game under their belt by defeating SC United Bantams by a score of 4-1 to advance to the second round of the US Open Cup.
The Silverbacks got off to a lightning fast start as Abraham Lansana scored from out wide after receiving the ball from DZ Harmon in the 4th minute of play. The Bantams nearly scored a minute later after as Terrell Williamson had a shot on goal that was saved by Silverbacks keeper Thomas Hunter.
The Silverbacks were given a corner in the 20th minute. Mitch Garcia delivered a ball to the top of the box to a Silverbacks player that put into the box. The ball took a deflection and found the feet of Deon McCaulay who gave the Silverbacks at 2-0 lead that they would take into the halftime break.
McCaulay again found the net in the 58th minute after receiving the ball from the Silverbacks explosive winger Alex Harlley. Just five minutes later he would be subbed off along with midfielder Ricardo Oliveira. The two would be replaced by Avery Shephard and Mohammed Issahaku, respectively.
SC United Bantams did manage to get on the board when they were awarded a penalty in the 78th minute. Leandro Brown converted it to make it 3-1, still in favor of the home side.
On the ensuing kickoff, Alex Harlley, the nephew of former English Premier League star Emmanuel Adebayor, noticed that the Bantams keeper was off of his line. He took advantage by launching a shot from midfield right off the kickoff, sending it past Bantams keeper Jack Howard to make it 4-1 in the 79th minute.
ALEX HARLLEY’S GOAL FROM MIDFIELD
The Silverbacks were able to hold onto their 4-1 lead, giving Phoday Dolleh his first win as head coach of the Silverbacks. Dolleh said afterwards that he felt great for the players that he said put in a lot of hard work for the players.
“We lost our opener and we had a lot of trouble with our roster,” Dolleh said. “I was missing some of my key players, so I’m very excited and looking forward to the next game.”
What Dolleh was referring to by missing some of his key players was Kentaro “Taka” Takada, and Abdul Bangura were not able to play due to having clearance issues with the US Soccer Federation. These clearance issues were part of why kickoff was delayed until 5 p.m., as opposed to the originally announced 3:30.
The Silverbacks will host Charleston Battery of the USL in the Second Round on Wednesday, May 17. The Silverbacks senior professional club, which is no longer active, had a fierce rivalry when Atlanta was part of the A-League and the USL First Division from 1997 to 2008. This will be the first meeting between a Silverbacks club and the Battery since a preseason friendly in 2012.
SC United Bantams
78' · Leandro Brown (PK)
4' · Abraham Lansana  20' · Deon McCaulay  58' · Deon McCaulay  79' · Alex Harley