Being the only NASL blog on SB Nation, it's not to often that we get a chance to speak with bloggers from rival clubs. Dirty South Soccer is covering the Atlanta Silverbacks, however, giving us the opportunity to ask a few things about the club, for those of us that don't see every one of their matches.
Mat Grisham and I exchanged questions, with myself answering three questions about the Cosmos, and Mat answering a trio about Atlanta. Here's what I asked, and how he answered.
Q - Atlanta turned over the vast majority of their squad last winter, leaving the new coaching staff with plenty of work to do. What do you think of the job they've done in 2015, and where could they improve?
A - Head coach Gary Smith certainly had his work cut out for him heading into the season and I think he's done a great job working with what he was given. It appeared that his first priority was assembling a solid defensive core and that kept the Silverbacks in a lot of games early in the year. Unfortunately, the offense wasn't there and results were hard to get. Over the midseason break, I was surprised to see the league-owned club make as many moves as they did. They really built up the central midfield, helping to build a more effective attack, particularly with the signing of Pedro Mendes. The main concern with the current squad is a lack of depth that has resulted in allowing some games to get away in the late stages.
Q - The Silverbacks are within sight of fourth place in the combined table, given their remaining schedule, do you think they have a realistic chance of actually making the playoffs this season?
A - With five games remaining, the Silverbacks have to play the league's top three teams and will need to make up four points on FC Edmonton and the Tampa Bay Rowdies. In Atlanta's favor, they will play the Rowdies and a win would give them a good boost. Ultimately though, I think the team will run out of games and fall just short of the playoffs, which is actually a great accomplishment considering how they fared in the spring.
Q - There has been quite a bit of talk about the future of the NASL in Atlanta, both because of ownership, and because of Atlanta United's approach. Do you believe that the Silverbacks could still be as viable as they are now, even after MLS joins the party?
A - I think there is an audience for the Silverbacks in Atlanta, especially those fans that want an affordable soccer experience that is intimate and family friendly. Unfortunately, I don't think the situation is very appealing from a business viewpoint. The franchise doesn't own its stadium which hurts its value as an investment. Ideally, I would like to see one more year for the team in the NASL before AUFC's advent in 2017, a semi-pro team take its place at Silverbacks Park, and hold out hope that AUFC eventually creates a USL side that plays in the city's suburbs.