Q&A with SoccerATL’s Sean Yancy
I was fortunate to talk to socceratl.com‘s Sean Yancy about the Atlanta Silverbacks 2015 season and beyond ahead of Saturday nights clash at Silverback park. Give @SoccerATLdotcom a follow on the Twitter and check out an excellent Q&A he did with former Atlanta and current Fury defender Mike Randolph.
BlogSmith: Where do you see Atlanta finishing overall at the end of the season?
Sean Yancy: This is so difficult to answer with all the turnover in NASL and only one match in the books, but I’ll give it a try. I think Atlanta will be the surprise of the league this season. Many have counted them out due to their limited budget due to league ownership, but they’ve managed to put together a strong squad despite those constraints. I can see them competing for a playoff spot, but only if they can avoid key injuries and have young players step up.
Bloggy: Who was Atlanta’s biggest signing this off season?
Sean: Right now I’d say it is Simon Mensing, the English CB. He assumed the captain role and will be a leader for the team. But potentially it could be Hans Denissen, who is still recovering from injury, but could be a huge signing if he can get back to his San Antonio Scorpions-like form.
Bloggy: What are the Silverbacks strengths and weaknesses?
Sean: The teams strength is in their forwards. Matt Horth returns to the team, Hans Denissen could be a great addition, Shaka Bangura is speedy and dangerous, Kyle Porter brings MLS experience.
Sean: Depth and cohesiveness. An injury to a key player would mean another very inexperienced player would need to start. This already happened with starting goalkeeper Steward Ceus going down to a knee injury and CJ Cochran having to make his first pro start opening night (though he played great). Also, the team only got together about a month before the season started, and haven’t had a chance to really connect yet.
Bloggy: Who’s the one player Atlanta can’t do without?
Sean: One game in it has to be the captain, Simon Mensing. He’s the leader on the backline, as well as the rest of the team.
Bloggy: Who’s a young player we should keep an eye on this year?
Sean: Jon Okafor. He’s a 25-year-old wide midfielder/winger. He had a great preseason and won a starting role. As of now, the fans know him for his throwback short shorts, but soon they’ll know him for his dangerous play.
Bloggy: What positives can Atlanta take away from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Indy?
Sean: CJ Cochran was a big positive. He didn’t look flustered, made some difficult saves, and looked confident though it had to be nerve-wracking. I think the biggest thing was that there was a team out there and they got a result (though it was a heartbreaker at the end not to win) when most thought the Silverbacks were done for good. Now we’ve got a team in Atlanta that has shown us something, given the fans hope for a decent season.
Bloggy: What are you most looking forward to in this 2015 NASL Season?
Sean: Just the fact that we have a season and a team to watch! It got pretty scary there and looked like we wouldn’t, but the league stepped in and here we are.
Bloggy: How positive are you the Atlanta Silverbacks will be back in 2016?
Sean: As a fan I’m hopeful, but if I take myself out of that mindset it’s hard to believe that they’ll be around in 2016. It would make sense for the league to keep the team going through 2016 because it’s the only game in town until 2017. They need to find local ownership to make that happen, but it doesn’t seem like the best investment for the long term. There’s always a possibility they find a way to keep it going, so I’m gonna hold out hope that that happens.
Big thanks to Sean for taking the time to answer my questions! While we don’t wish them anything resembling good luck on Saturday, we do wish the Silverbacks good luck during the season and with efforts to keep the club in Atlanta with some of the most passionate supporters in the league.
Ottawa Fury FC Visit a Retooled Atlanta Silverbacks
After having lost their first game of the NASL season last Saturday in a controversial match in Carolina 3:1, the Ottawa Fury FC will travel to Atlanta looking for their first win in 2015. The Silverbacks will be seeking revenge from an Ottawa team that not only beat them in their last two meetings, but also signed their star defender and captain Mike Randolph over the off season. Atlanta’s new, and MLS Championship winning coach (Colorado Rapids) Gary Smith will be counting on his two biggest off season acquisitions: striker Hans Denissen and defender and now captain Simon Mensing to keep their undefeated season intact. Silverback’s drew their opener at home 1:1 to Indy after a 90′ penalty scored by super-sub Don Smart. Ottawa will welcome back Nicki Paterson, Mauro Eusatquio as well as 2014 top scorer Oliver from suspension to the lineup, but will be without Canadian international midfielder Julian de Guzman who will be serving a one game suspension as well as Richie Ryan, Paulo Jr. and Sinisa Ubiparipovich with injury. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm Saturday at Silverbacks Park and can be seen live on Rogers 22, and streamed online at ottawafuryfc.com or on the radio on TSN1200.
Blog Smith @BlogFuryFC