ATLANTA–AFC Mobile dropped a 6-0 decision to the Atlanta Silverbacks of the National Premier Soccer League in its first game-action of the year on Saturday night.
“When you start your preseason off with a level above what you are, and without your full complement, it shows the difference in the level and something for our boys to aspire to,” coach Nate Nicholas said. “[Atlanta Silverbacks FC] has been around for a long time, and this is our second year. Even though the scoreline’s not great, it served its purpose. We wanted to learn about ourselves, and we learned about ourselves, and we learned some things we need to work on.”
The Silverbacks took an early lead when a free kick taken while the referee reached for his pocket beat goalkeeper Elijah Gibson. The host team’s speed and physicality overwhelmed a Mobile squad missing several of its starters, and it wasn’t long before the Azaleas fell behind 3-0, courtesy of a chipped goal down the left wing and long-range effort from the right. A curled free kick just before half-time sent Atlanta into the interval with a 4-0 advantage.
“They were speedy all over the field,” Nicholas said. “They beat us early on with that, and exploited some of our weaknesses. We gave up three early goals, but after that we started to grow into the game and find our own. But that’s what good teams do. They find a weakness and they exploit it, and it took us a while to adjust to it.”
An experimental second half saw Mobile concede twice more on the break. The best chances for the visitors came from set pieces and some well-worked play by AFC Mobile debutant and former Savannah Clovers midfielder Tomas Lopez.
“I hadn’t seen him in a game situation, and I think he showed that he can raise his level and contend well with their quality,” Nicholas said. “I also though [right back] Brantton Greene had a great game for us. He’s young but he’s a player that will be great now and in the future.”
AFC Mobile will host Northshore United on April 28 at 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex in another friendly, its first against the GCPL newcomers.
“We’re probably not going to play a team in our league that’s better than they are. We learned that we can play and hold our own, but that there’s a lot to work on. It’s important to be at training and working hard and working on those things while we have the time to do it. We’ve got to get in shape and get our first touches down. We’ve had one training session with some of these guys, so we’ll improve.”
AFC Mobile is Mobile’s minor league soccer team. It plays its home matches at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex in Mobile. Tickets are $5 for each match, and children 12 and younger are admitted free. Season tickets are available online at afcmobile.net/shop.