The first period began as it ended, with high-intensity action, and both squads looking for the points they needed tonight. Atlanta opened up the rally with Jason McLaughlin taking the first shot of the match, aiming to blast the ball just inside the base of the right post. Islanders’ keeper Bill Gaudette dove in just in time to stop the early threat.
Five minutes later the locals answered in kind with a free shot taken by Jonathan Steele. John Krause was waiting and able to connect the pass with a header that seemed a sure bet for the score, but Silverback Chris Mahaffey got his foot on the ball right outside the goal line to foil Puerto Rico’s chance.
The give-and-take got more intense as the half began to wind down. The Islanders put their 6,549 fans on edge in minute 31 as they attempted three consecutive shots inside the box that ended nowhere as Felipe Quintero sealed all access to his goal.
Chris Mahaffey then came back for Atlanta in minute 42 with a solid shot that Gaudette managed to slap away.
Despite all serious attempts to goal on each side, the first period ended 0-0.
Back from halftime, the Silverbacks came out swinging. In minute 55, a perfect throw-in found Jason McLaughlin in the right spot to fool Guadette’s defense and give his team the first point. Atlanta’s celebration was short-lived, however.
Six minutes later, all Cristian Arrieta needed was a perfect pass from Osei Telesford to blast it in and even the score.
The Silverbacks’ mixed bag of passion and frustration manifested a bit too much when Matt Bobo earned a red card expulsion in minute 74. The one-man advantage seemed to boost Puerto Rico’s spirits, while strengthening the visitor’s resolve.
A second attempt by Arrieta to broaden the score in minute 74 was masterfully deflected by Quintero, as were consecutive shots from Jonathan Steele and Edwin Miranda in minutes 84 and 85.
The battle lasted to the very end. Yet, despite the Silverback’s valiant defense, the 1-1 score was going to be the fate of the match. Puerto Rico got what it was looking to attain tonight.
The Islanders fly to Montreal to meet the Impact on Sunday, and then set their sights on their next CONCACAF Champions League match against Mexico’s Santos Laguna in Bayamon at the Juan Ramón Loubriel next Tuesday.