Atlanta Silverbacks

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This article is about the football club. For other uses, see Silverback (disambiguation).
Atlanta Silverbacks
Logo
Full name Atlanta Silverbacks Football Club
Nickname(s) Silverbacks
Founded 1994
as Atlanta Ruckus
Stadium Atlanta Silverbacks Park
Atlanta, Georgia
Ground Capacity 5,000
Owners Boris Jerkunica
John Latham
Head Coach Jason Smith
League North American Soccer League
2013 Spring Season: 1st
Fall Season: 7th
Soccer Bowl: Runners-Up
Website Club home page
Current season

Atlanta Silverbacks is an American professional soccer club based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1998, the club plays in the North American Soccer League (NASL), the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid. The team plays its home games at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, a large soccer complex featuring a 5,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, 15 miles northeast of downtown. The team's colors are red, black, grey, and white.

The team has a development team, Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League, and a women's team, the Atlanta Silverbacks Women, which plays in the women's USL W-League. They also used to have a USL PDL affiliate, Atlanta Silverbacks U23's, which ceased operations at the same time as the old USL-1 club.

History[edit]

Previous logo
A previous logo featuring Willie B.

In July 1994, the American Professional Soccer League announced it had accepted the Atlanta Magic, owned by Sam Chase, as a new franchise for the 1995 season. At the time, the Magic played in the USISL. In October 1994, the team, still referred to as the Atlanta Magic, signed national team forward Bruce Murray.[1] However, by November 1994, Chase had decided to enter an entirely new team, to be named the Atlanta Ruckus, in the APSL.[2] Despite this decision, several Magic players moved to the Ruckus, including Bill Andracki, Chris Hellenkamp, Brian Moore and Mo Suri. Even after the creation of the Ruckus, the Atlanta Magic continued to play in the USISL, losing to the Baltimore Bays in the 1995–96 USISL indoor season championship.

The Ruckus nearly failed even before it had played a game. Six weeks before the 1995 season, Chase experienced financial difficulties and failed to post the required $100,000 letter of credit with the league by the March 1st deadline. The league nearly revoked the franchise, but, South African businessman Johnny Imerman quickly stepped in and bought the team.[3] The Ruckus, under former U.S. national team coach Lothar Osiander, began its competitive existence on May 5, 1995 when it defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first game of the newly renamed A-League. The Ruckus experienced a mid-season loss of form, but the addition of several new players, including Justin Fashanu, led to a resurgence. Atlanta made it to the championship series, only to lose to the Seattle Sounders in three games. After losing nearly $600,000 in 1995 and continuing to lose money in 1996, Imerman arranged for the league to take over team operations in June 1996.[4] In August 1996, Vincent Lu purchased the franchise. In June 1998, the league suspended the team after Lu refused to sign a renewed franchise agreement with the league.[5] The A-League continued to operate the team, now known as the A-League Atlanta. At the time Umbro had a promotional contract with the A-League and it contacted a local Atlanta law firm, Alston & Bird, about the possibility of litigation against the league and Lu. However, this contact resulted in Alston & Bird lawyer John Latham purchasing the team along with his friend Bobby Glustrom.[6] In September 1998, Latham and Glustrom hired Mike Balson as general manager. Balson then hired 1996 USISL Coach of the Year Nuno Piteira as head coach. In a September 1998 press conference at Zoo Atlanta, the two partners also announced the team would be known as the Atlanta Silverbacks in honor of Willie B., a silverback gorilla who was a star attraction at the zoo. The team also moved to DeKalb Memorial Stadium for the 1999 season. From at least 1999 to at least 2001, the Silverbacks were affiliated with the Dallas Burn of Major League Soccer. In January 2000, David Cormack joined Latham and Glustrom as owners of the Silverbacks, but left in September to become the Chief Executive of Aberdeen F.C. In 2000, Atlanta and Tennessee Rhythm began an annual competition for the Willie B. Cup.[7] Between 2000 and 2007, when the cup was discontinued, the Silverbacks won it four times.[8] Despite the new ownership group, coach and stadium, the Silverbacks continued to struggle on the field. From 1996 through 2001, the team went through seven coaches and missed the playoffs six consecutive seasons. In 2002, the Silverbacks, under head coach Brett Mosen, made the playoffs and went to the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. In 2003, Atlanta began another string of poor seasons, failing to make the playoffs for four seasons. Finally in 2007, for the first time since its inaugural season in 1995, Atlanta made it to the league championship, falling to the Seattle Sounders.

In November 2009, the Silverbacks announced their intent to leave the USL First Division to become the co-founders of a new North American Soccer League, which would begin play in 2010. The league, which at the time had yet to be sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation or the Canadian Soccer Association, would also comprise the Carolina RailHawks, Crystal Palace Baltimore, Miami FC, Minnesota Thunder, Montreal Impact, FC Tampa Bay, Vancouver Whitecaps and a brand new team led by St. Louis Soccer United.[9] However, the NASL was not sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation and the Silverbacks did not play during the 2010 season. On November 20, 2010, the USSF sanctioned the NASL and the Atlanta Silverbacks immediately re-joined for the 2011 season.

On May 22, 2012, the Atlanta Silverbacks created controversy when they became the first team to sell the rights to host a 2012 U.S. Open Cup match to the Seattle Sounders.[10]

On July 2, 2012, the Silverbacks announced former United States men's national soccer team star Eric Wynalda would take over as the club's interim head coach and Director of Soccer, replacing Alex Pineda Chacón and Rodrigo Rios respectively.[11] Wynalda appointed Brian Haynes as the team's permanent head coach, while Wynalda remained on the Silverbacks' staff as technical director. Under the leadership of Haynes and Wynalda, the team enjoyed a remarkable turnaround and captured the 2013 NASL Spring season title, thus earning the right to host the 2013 Soccer Bowl, which the Silverbacks lost 1-0 to the New York Cosmos. Haynes posted a regular season record of 13 wins, 10 losses, and 10 draws and won the 2013 NASL Coach of the Year trophy, but team leadership ultimately decided not to retain him as head coach, citing poor results during the 2013 fall season.[12]

Colors and badge[edit]

The Silverbacks official colors are red, black, grey, and white, and the club logo features those four colors prominently. On January 23, 2013 a new logo was announced.[13] The club's name was inspired Willie B., a gorilla who was a main attraction of Zoo Atlanta until his death in February 2000.

In September 2012, a poll was posted on the Silverbacks' official website relating to a potential rebrand. The options were: to retain the Silverbacks name, a rebrand to Atlanta Chiefs to recall the team from the original NASL or a third write-in option.[14] The name Atlanta FC was later added to the poll after receiving a "significant" number of the write-in votes.[15]

Stadium[edit]

The Silverbacks play their home games at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, a 5,000-seat soccer-specific stadium built in 2006 for use specifically by the team. In addition to the main stadium, the complex features several international size practice fields that are used by recreational soccer teams, high school soccer and lacrosse teams, and a local rugby club. Over the years, the stadium has gone by a variety of sponsorship names, including ReMax Greater Atlanta Stadium.

Prior to the 2006 season the Silverbacks played at various municipal stadiums in the Greater Atlanta area, most notably DeKalb Memorial Stadium in Clarkston.

Players and staff[edit]

Current roster[edit]

As of July 16, 2014[16]

No. Position Player Nation
2 Defender Espinoza, EdgarEdgar Espinoza      United States
5 Midfielder Gavin, BlairBlair Gavin      United States
7 Midfielder Sandoval, JuniorJunior Sandoval      Honduras
8 Defender Canovas, RamiroRamiro Canovas      Argentina
9 Forward McCaulay, DeonDeon McCaulay      Belize
10 Midfielder Poku, KwadwoKwadwo Poku      Ghana
11 Midfielder Cruz, PabloPablo Cruz      United States
12 Goalkeeper Hunter, ThomasThomas Hunter      United States
13 Midfielder Carr, BorforBorfor Carr      Liberia
14 Midfielder Paulini, LucasLucas Paulini      Argentina
15 Defender Bangura, AbdulAbdul Bangura      Sierra Leone
16 Goalkeeper Ati, EricEric Ati      Cameroon
17 Midfielder Poltronieri, BrandonBrandon Poltronieri      Costa Rica
18 Defender Garcia, MitchMitch Garcia      United States
19 Forward Chavez, JaimeJaime Chavez      United States
20 Midfielder Rivera, JannyJanny Rivera      Colombia
21 Forward Gulley, KellenKellen Gulley      United States
25 Midfielder Sousa, FerretyFerrety Sousa      Democratic Republic of the Congo
29 Defender Randolph, MikeMike Randolph      United States
33 Midfielder Burgos, JuniorJunior Burgos      El Salvador
38 Defender Roushandel, RyanRyan Roushandel      United States
45 Midfielder Harlley, AlexAlex Harlley      Togo
70 Midfielder Gonzalez, JesusJesus Gonzalez      United States

Technical Staff[edit]

  • United States Eric WynaldaTechnical Director
  • United States Jason Smith - Head Coach
  • Costa Rica Ricardo Montoya – Assistant Coach
  • Uruguay Alejandro Pombo – Assistant Coach
  • Peru Eduardo "Lalo" Liza – Assistant Coach
  • Colombia Juan Castellanos – Fitness Coach

Front Office Staff[edit]

  • Croatia Boris JerkunicaChairman
  • United States John Latham – Vice-Chairman
  • United States Andy Smith – General Manager
  • United States Neal Malone – Marketing and PR Manager"
  • United States Michael Wheeler – Account Executive
  • United States Kaila Muecke – Account Executive
  • United States Malcolm Johnson – Account Executive
  • United States Pete Zeskind – Account Executive
  • United States Nathan Charlton – Operations Manager
  • United States Samantha Yourstone – Event Marketing Coordinator

Notable former players[edit]

This list of former players includes those who received international caps while playing for the team, made significant contributions to the team in terms of appearances or goals while playing for the team, or who made significant contributions to the sport either before they played for the team, or after they left. It is clearly not yet complete and all inclusive, and additions and refinements will continue to be made over time.

Head coaches[edit]

Achievements[edit]

  • A-League
    • Runner-up (Playoffs) (1): 1995

*-as co-champion

Record[edit]

Year-by-year[edit]

Year Division League Reg. Season (W-L-D) Playoffs Open Cup Avg. Attendance
1995 2 A-League 4th (13-11) Finalist 2nd Round 2,632
1996 2 A-League 7th (3-19) Did not qualify Did not qualify 4,315
1997 2 USISL A-League 7th, Central (12-16) Did not qualify Did not qualify 2,406
1998 2 USISL A-League 6th, Atlantic (7-21) Did not qualify Did not qualify 923
1999 2 USL A-League 5th, Atlantic (15-13) Did not qualify Did not qualify 2,703
2000 2 USL A-League 6th, Atlantic (11-14-3) Did not qualify Did not qualify 3,327
2001 2 USL A-League 5th, Central (13-12-1) 1st round Did not qualify 1,094
2002 2 USL A-League 3rd, Southeast (13-13-2) 1st Round 3rd Round 1,006
2003 2 USL A-League 5th, Southeast (4-17-7) Did not qualify 3rd Round 1,200
2004 2 USL A-League 5th, Eastern (14-11-3) Did not qualify 4th Round 1,662
2005 2 USL First Division 8th (10-15-3) Did not qualify 3rd Round 1,724
2006 2 USL First Division 8th (10-13-5) Did not qualify 3rd Round 2,298
2007 2 USL First Division 4th (12-9-7) Finalist 3rd Round 2,372
2008 2 USL First Division 9th (8-12-10) Did not qualify 2nd Round 2,281
2009 On Hiatus
2010 On Hiatus
2011 2 NASL 8th (4-20-4) Did not qualify Denied entry 2,866
2012 2 NASL 7th (7-12-9) Did not qualify 3rd Round 4,505
2013 2 NASL 1st - Spring (6-3-3)

7th - Fall (4-6-4)

Runners-Up 3rd Round 4,677
2014 2 NASL 8th - Spring (3-5-1)
Quarterfinals

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Charlotte Eagles
Southern Derby Winner
2002
Succeeded by
Charleston Battery
Preceded by
Charleston Battery
Southern Derby Winner
2004
Succeeded by
Co-Winners with
Charleston Battery
Preceded by
Atlanta Silverbacks
Southern Derby Co-Winners
with Charleston Battery

2005
Succeeded by
Atlanta Silverbacks
Preceded by
Atlanta Silverbacks
Southern Derby Winner
2006
Succeeded by
Carolina RailHawks FC