Speed kills. So does talent.
When both were combined on the pitch Wednesday night, it was too much for the Chattanooga Football Club to overcome.
The Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League strung together a pretty workmanlike 5-0 victory over the hosts in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup in front of 4,058 fans at Finley Stadium. With the win, the Silverbacks advance to the next round, where they will host Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer.
Chattanooga returns to the pitch Saturday when they travel to face the Knoxville Force.
CFC (3-2-1) had become the first amateur team to win an Open Cup match on May 14 when they defeated the Wilmington Hammerheads of the United States Professional League. The Silverbacks -- coached by international soccer legend Eric Wynalda -- posed a much more potent challenge with their speed and technical skill at all levels of the field. If the hosts made a mistake, the visitors capitalized on it. Meanwhile, the chances created by CFC were few and far between.
"Atlanta, in theory, should be a step ahead of Wilmington," CFC coach Bill Elliott said. "It was evident five minutes into the game that they were, but we still felt like if something could go early in the gmae, we could have hung around and made it interesting. But the ball didn't bounce right for us early -- in fact, in four of their five goals, I hadn't seen a goal like that in three years. They struck with power and precision.
"They play teams at their level every day -- we play teams at our level every day. If you give us a couple months with a little bit stiffer competition, we could have played a tighter match. They're good, though; they're professionals for a reason and they showed it tonight."
Junior Burgos had two goals and an assist during the match. Shortly after a Junior Sandoval fired a low shot past CFC keeper Greg Hartley to make it 1-0, Burgos was fouled right outside the box in the 17th minute, and scored on the ensuing free kick to make for a two-goal edge. He then struck a shot from about 30 feet out on the left side to give the Silverbacks (4-0-4) a 3-0 lead going into the half.
"I think that one of the things that happens in a game like this is that we had to bring energy," Wynalda said. "The energy at the start of the game dictated the pace of the game, and once they started chasing, we started moving the ball around and it was difficult for them to get back in the game. It's a credit to our guys that we did a good job circulating the ball and making sure we had the right people on the ball. We wanted to let the ball do the work -- let the blue shirts chase -- and we took advantage of our chances.
"After we got that third goal, it got really quiet."
Deon McCauley scored in the 68th minute and Jaime Chavez had a header in the 72nd to complete the scoring.
Atlanta outshot Chattanooga 13-4 on the evening, and the Silverbacks kept Hartley busy, as the CFC keeper finished with five saves, including one on a penalty-kick attempt by Borfor Carr in the final moments.
The later stages of the match took their toll on CFC, as both midfielder Luis Trude and defender James Moore went off with injuries in the second half.
"It's going to take a little time to get our legs back under us for league play," Elliott said. "The unfortunate part about the Open Cup is that it takes a lot out of you, but it was obviously tremendous for us to make history for the league; for Chattanooga and for CFC."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.