This weekend sees the Puerto Rico Islanders welcome the Atlanta Silverbacks to the Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium for the final regular season game.
Following Wednesday’s good result against the LA Galaxy, Coach Adrian Whitbread spoke to the Club’s official website and confirmed there is likely to be changes ahead of Saturday’s game as he looks to give the rest of his squad a chance to impress.
“Well here we are at our last NASL regular season game. All the players have worked so hard to get to this point. There have been some ups and some downs but I believe more ups,” Whitbread explained.
“The squad has come back together in the last two weeks and I certainly sense a change in the team when we are all together.”
“The squad will now be rotated to rest players for our upcoming playoff game on the 30th of September.”
He went onto add: “It is now a time for other players to push themselves into my plans for the playoffs after the disappointment of not playing.”
“The team wants to finish in 3rd position and they will have to be at their best against an in form Atlanta team.”
Season so far
It has been a tough season for the Atlanta Silverbacks under the management of Brian Haynes. The Club has recorded 7-8-2, and come into the game in good form with three wins from their last five games.
Fans of the Silverbacks will be disappointed at failing to make the playoffs despite an upturn in form that has seen them lose just once in their last eight games.
By contrast, the Islanders have a lot to celebrate after qualifying for the playoffs with several games to spare. More importantly, the team ended a six match winless streak last weekend with their 2-0 result against the Minnesota Stars, providing much needed relief ahead of what is likely to be a tough playoff campaign.
The Islanders have had the better of this season’s exchanges having won the first two meetings the sides had this season. Last time the Silverbacks visited Bayamon, they were the recipients of a 3-0 defeat, which was followed by a 2-1 defeat at home little over a month later.
However the Silverbacks were able to exact some revenge on the Club with a similar 2-1 victory when the Islanders visited Atlanta for the second time this season. With both sides playoff future already decided, it is all about pride for the two sides, with the Islanders keen to round off the series with a trio of victories.
Despite Nicholas Addlery leading the Islanders' scoring charts with nine goals this season, few will argue the impact that Englishman David Foley made last week during the Islanders' 2-0 win over Minnesota. The former Hartlepool man netted both goals and was a constant thorn in the side of the Stars backline.
It is likely Foley will be relying on the creativity of Jonathan Fana, the Dominican international currently has five assists for the Islanders this campaign and seems to be hitting form at just the right time for the club.
For the visitors, Akron native Matt Horth is likely to provide the biggest threat having already netted ten times this season for the Silverbacks. Elsewhere midfielder Ciaran O’Brien has four assists this season and will need to be shutdown quickly if the Islanders aim to keep a clean sheet.