With nine players representing their national teams during the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches, the short-handed Puerto Rico Islanders had their six game unbeaten streak snapped as they fell to the Atlanta Silverbacks 2-0 on Saturday night.
Playing their third match in eight days, the second-place Islanders (13-6-6) faced last-place Atlanta (4-17-3) on the road at Atlanta Silverbacks Park without their leading goal scorer Jonathan Faña who was away representing the Dominican Republic. Also away on national duty was forward Gregory Richardson, who was representing the Guyana national team.
Cementing the Orange Troop's reputation as Puerto Rico's best soccer team, seven players were called for the Puerto Rico national team. They were defenders Marco Vélez, Alexis Rivera, Scott Jones and Richard Martínez and midfielders Petter Villegas, Tyler Wilson and Noah Delgado.
This was the fourth and final meeting between both teams. Prior to Saturday night's match, the Islanders had won the first three matches by a combined score of 9-4.
The difference between the previous three encounters was the performances of Silverbacks forward Matt Horth and Islanders goalkeeper Ray Burse. With the Silverbacks officially eliminated from the playoffs, they have the opportunity to finish their seasons as playoff spoilers.
Matt Horth was able to burn Ray Burse twice in the first half as he scored in the 28th and 30th minute to give the Silverbacks a 2-0 at halftime. No matter how hard the Islanders attempted to produce a goal, the depleted Orange Troop was no match for Atlanta on Saturday night.
With their six-game unbeaten streak coming to an end, the Islanders now trail the Carolina RailHawks for the best record by nine points. Following Saturday's loss, the Islanders return home where they will face the Montreal Impact at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium where they remain unbeaten.
With three games remaining in the regular season, the Islanders have to win their remaining matches while hoping that Carolina goes on a losing streak. However, with the way the RailHawks have been playing as of late, it is unlikely.
After losing to the Orange Troop in Puerto Rico, the RailHawks have gone on a four-game unbeaten streak as they've gone 3-0-1. Both teams will meet for the final time in the regular season on Saturday, Sept. 17 in Puerto Rico.
Other NASL results from Saturday Night
First place Carolina RailHawks (17-3-4; 54pts) won 2-0 over third-place FC Tampa (9-7-8; 34 pts).
Fifth-place Fort Lauderdale Strikers (7-10-7; 31pts) won 1-0 over seventh place Montreal Impact (6-7-11; 25 pts).
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press & USSoccerPlayers.com; your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.