Long time no see. After a month-long hiatus, the BBL is back to talk soccer as the Hammers’ 2017 campaign is upon us. No more dreaming about soccer. No more worrying about roster choices, kits, sponsors, coaches, venues, etc… Just good old-fashioned footy.

And we have a dandy of a match to preview for you this week.

Logistics:

Who: Hammers @ Atlanta Silverbacks

When: May 6th at 4:00 PM CST / 5:00 PM EST

Where: Silverbacks Park, ATL

How can you watch: Stream the Facebook Live feed from the ATL Silverbacks page.

What’s At Stake: 3 Points in the Southeast Conference. Civic Pride.


The Opponents

The Atlanta Silverbacks were once a hot commodity in the Atlanta area. As a member of the NASL (2nd division of the US Soccer Structure), the ‘Backs were the biggest name around.

However, despite much on-field success, the Silverbacks could not figure out the professional game. And much changed for the franchise when Arthur Blank and his deep pockets decided to bring a MLS club the ATL.

The emergence of Atlanta United FC has put the Silverbacks on the brink of becoming irrelevant in their own home town. It certainly hastened their move out of the 2nd division and into the 4th division. Of all teams in the NPSL, this club is fighting to not be looked at as a ‘little brother’  and will scrap at all costs to earn their victories.

And they have a veteran-laden roster with plenty of professional experience that could help them achieve their 2017 goals. Look for the play of Kentaro ‘Taka’ Takada (probably the coolest name in the conference) and Mitch Garcia to give the Hammers problems all day long.


The Boys in Red – Projected Starting XI

Hammers.vs.SBacks.May2017.StartingXI

Formation: 4-4-2

Attack: Raw talent and speed. That is what the Hammers have in the attack this year. I believe that Coach Wulf will start Freddy Ruiz and Oliver Cylkowski up top. Both have a knack for scoring goals; both look to be in really good form as well.

Midfield: Pushing the ball forward from the midfield will be a combination of Deandre Robinson and Gael Mabialas. Look for a lot of runs down the right touchline from Mabialas with crosses back across the middle. Mabialas has world-class speed. Don’t believe me? Go watch him play when the Hammers return to Birmingham on May 13th. The kid can fly!

Coach Wulf will use the combination of Dan Demasters and Krish Patel to be the on-field leaders and lock up the defensive responsibilities in the midfield, with Patel occasionally pushing forward. Look for one of these two to be wearing the Captain’s armband.

Defense: With Jack Ball not available for the match this weekend, I project that Coach Wulf will go with experience in the spine of the backline. Alex Brown and Christian Adkins both have several caps under their belts, along with Brad Louis in goal. I look forward to seeing what Jacoby and Rocca can do in the fullback roles for the Hammers.


For another take on this upcoming match, go check my buddy Collin Barnwell’s game preview at the Let’s Get Hammered blog! Go tell him how wrong he is on his projected starting XI. #TeamBBL!

Come back after the game for my match summary and player rankings. Enjoy the soccer this weekend!