The SA Scorpions FC drew even in their inaugural game in the North American Soccer League against the Atlanta Silverbacks at Silverbacks Park in Atlanta, GA.
The Scorpions started with Pat Hannigan in goal instead of Daryl Sattler, who had enjoyed most of the playing time for the preseason friendlies. Josue Soto, the Houston Dynamo Loanee, started out wide in the midfield and turned in an entire 90 minutes.
The match began with the Silverbacks enjoying most of the possession while the Scorpions looked content to sit back and play in their own half. While the first half continued, the Scorpions began to rely more on their defense to create counter attacking opportunities and that led to a Kevin Harmes shot on goal for the Scorpions only attempt on target for the first half.
Some scrappy play in front of the goal almost led to Atlanta getting off the mark and more offensive pressure from Atlanta led to a dangerous play in the box but no penalty was called.
The second half started with much of the same from the home side, more pressure, an early corner and a breakaway opportunity. But the Scorpions continued to be resilient. In the ‘56 minute the Scorpions turned the table and began to look dangerous taking the game to the Silverbacks.
Their efforts led to a breakaway opportunity for Pablo Campos in front of goal, but he carelessly drove the ball directly into the Silverbacks goalkeeper Daniel Illyes, preventing him from seeing his name on the score sheet.
The Scorpions continued to press but shortened spells of possession from both sides caused the rest of the match to be a back-and-forth affair.
Campos had one more chance in stoppage time off a feed from Hans Denison, but nothing transpired as the full time whistle was blown.
The Scorpions integrated some new pieces into the squad with Hannigan and Soto each earning starts, although Hannigan has been with the team for most of the preseason. Soto, on the other hand, seems to be a player who likes to connect going forward but a higher quality might be expected from the MLS youngster. Chemistry with his new, albeit temporary, team may just come with increased time in competitive matches with the existing squad.
Another new signing, Wes Knight, had a decent performance at right back and looked comfortable going forward and joining in on the attack with adequate cover from Fabian Kling. It was apparent early on, that relying on their strong defensive play was going to get them through the first half as the whole team looked out of sorts.
The second half saw the Scorpions looking more inspired in the attacking third.
Harmse had a steady and consistent performance with not much support going forward in attack. The captain continues to look like the driving engine in the midfield and offers that bit of quality when the team needs it the most. The scoring chances, however, will come back to haunt the club if they don’t capitalize when opportunities present themselves.
Over the next few games, this team will look to integrate their offensive play with their defensive acuity creating a nice even balance. As for this match, a point from the night was earned by both clubs.