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Vics defeat Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0

July 18, 2007 - USL First Division (USL-1) - California Victory News Release

SAN FRANCISCO (July 17, 2007) -- The California Victory bounced back from a string of tortuous results by defeating the Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0 at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco Tuesday night.

The Vics defended hard, created fluid attacks and fought for every ball, never missing a chance to put in the extra effort when it mattered -- and were ultimately rewarded with all three points.

Federico Bianchi scored the game's only goal in the first-half from a Josh Hansen assist, taking his tally to two goals in two games.

"We needed that 'W'," said Victory head coach Glenn Van Straatum. "Ties won't do it for us anymore, we need three points a game if we want to be in that top-eight playoff spot at the end of the season."

The ever-vocal Kezar crowd were treated tonight to one of this year's better games -- an open, intriguing match with plenty of flair and goal-mouth action.

The Vics opened the game with some tight passing, knocking the ball around the midfield comfortably while Atlanta dropped back and absorbed the pressure.

Early on Chuck Kim -- who was making his first start in 10 games -- lifted a dipping cross to Hansen, who had his header saved. Kim was a nightmare for the Atlanta defense all night, twisting and turning his way around the Silverbacks' right-back while playing dangerous balls into the box at will.

Minutes later Hansen flung his foot over his head for a bicycle kick on goal, but again Atlanta 'keeper Felipe Quintero saved.

The 'Backs found an attacking rhythm also, but everywhere the two massive Atlanta forwards went, they were hustled by the Victory defense who looked determined to win every header, every tackle and every loose ball.

Atlanta's Warren Ukah tried his luck from 10 yards, but Victory 'keeper Eric Reed was equal to the effort, saving brilliantly to his left and onto the post. From the ensuing corner Ukah struck a header at the far post, but this time Casillas was on the line to clear.

Then in the 39th minute, the Vics season turned a corner.

Hansen brought a loose ball down with his chest at the edge of the box before playing a perfectly weighted through-pass to Federico Bianchi, who comfortably slotted the ball home to put his team ahead.

But the Victory would have to hold on for 50 minutes of regular time to seal the win, and in the second half did well to stymie the high-powered Silverbacks offense, which has scored 25 league goals this season.

The 'Backs did get the ball in the net in the 50th minute, but the score was called back for a clear handball.

The Victory had a chance to double its score in the second half when Hansen made a tidy run through the middle before playing a neat give-and-go with Aaron Chandler, but he couldn't get enough power behind his shot.

And when the referee called for five additional minutes after the clock struck 90, the pressure was piled on thicker than the San Francisco fog that poured through the stadium.

While Eric Reed and Luis Aguilar both made crucial stoppage-time saves, the entire Victory team battled together well as a unit to defend a flurry of last-minute corners and hold on for the big win.

The Vics (3-10-5, 14 points) hit the road this week to play Puerto Rico Islanders Friday. The match can be seen at 5 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel. The following Sunday they play in Miami before heading to Minnesota Thursday to play the Thunder. The next home game is on July 28, against Puerto Rico.

Atlanta (7-6-4, 25 points) heads home Saturday to play the Portland Timbers.

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