Top Stories

NASL suspends operation of Silverbacks


After being run by the league throughout the most recent NASL campaign, the Atlanta Silverbacks will not take the field in 2016.

The NASL announced on Monday that the league has suspended its operation of the Silverbacks for at least the 2016 season and possibly even beyond. The move comes following a season of league ownership as the NASL pursued the addition of a local ownership group, which NASL commissioner Bill Peterson highlighted as a necessity if the club was to go forward.

“The goal all along has been to secure committed local ownership in Atlanta, but despite significant conversations with a number of interested parties, we were unable to identify a group that could lead the Silverbacks in a direction consistent with the rest of our clubs,”  Peterson said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate, and particularly sad for the Silverbacks’ passionate fan base, which has supported the club tremendously throughout the years.

“We have made incredible strides in just five short years, and one of the key pillars of our league’s growth and improvement has been the emergence of a group of committed owners who believe in the long-term NASL plan,” Peterson added. “Unfortunately in Atlanta – a market we continue to believe could be successful in the NASL – there wasn’t an ownership group identified that met the very specific standards we hold ourselves to as a league.”

After spending 10 seasons affiliated with the USL, the Silverbacks joined the NASL in 2011 for the league’s revival season. In 2015, the Silverbacks finished eighth in the Combined standings after finishing last in the Spring campaign.

With the suspension of the Silverbacks, the NASL loses its second franchise in as many months following the exit of the San Antonio Scorpions. In their stead, the NASL has added a trio of teams: Miami FC, Puerto Rico FC and Rayo OKC.

As for soccer in Atlanta, the city will see the introduction of MLS expansion side Atlanta United in 2017.

“This is obviously a disappointing day for anyone that has been involved with the club over the years,” said Silverbacks president and general manager Andy Smith. “The organization created some great memories for the city of Atlanta and its soccer fans, but as we all know, you need ownership to continue on.

“We appreciate all of the time and effort the league and its owners have invested in their search for long-term Silverbacks ownership – they truly turned over every rock in the process. On behalf of the organization, I want to thank all of our staff members, players, coaches, partners, and most importantly fans for their loyal support.”

What do you think of the latest Silverbacks news? How will it effect the NASL?

Share your thoughts below.


      • Not really. The original NASL was a first division league while the current one is a lower division league. It is very common for lower division leagues to keep losing and gaining clubs because the first division is always expanding in large numbers and the lower division does not come with enough profit for some clubs to survive.

  1. ATL!!! While I’m proud that the city has gained an MLS franchise (this is progress overall, sorry Silverbacks), I do want to take a second to pour out a little something for the whole ‘Backs franchise. Me and a bunch of friends played for years in their intramural leagues and the guys who were a part of the organization were class, like Rodrigo. SALUTE! -SouthBronxFC

  2. im surprised being unfettered by a salary cap and single entity, aided by the wonders of The Free Market, didnt result in a billion dollar stadium for the local NASL team…

  3. I love the name Silverbacks. I hope that Dynamo Atlanta United FC Soccer Club ditches it’s clunky name and buys the Silverbacks name. Won’t happen, but would be nice.

  4. Is this really a surprise to anyone? Tough to attract investors to minor league soccer (without pro/rel) when the MLS is building billion dollar stadiums in your backyard. Until MLS stops expanding (32 teams), NASL’s existing and potential owners will live in fear that their market or team will be raided….see Minnesota, Montreal, San Antonio, Atlanta as examples. New Miami FC team should be worried once Beckham finally gets his act together.

  5. That’s sucks especially as the Silverbacks were my favorite NASL team, but I don’t know enough to have any idea what this means for NASL.

    I do have to say though, I never liked the name Silverbacks.

    I like names that relate a little more obviously and historically to the location. e.g. Colorado Rapids, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes. . .damn, I guess most of the type of names that I prefer are on the West Coast.

    The NFL, NBA, and NHL all have a lot more of these kind of names.

    We have too many FC’s and United’s in MLS now. I wouldn’t be bothered by the single United/Real/Rayo/SC — but more than one, that kind of stinks. And finally, FC has no business being in the name of an American soccer team unless they’re in the SW USA, which used to be Mexico even after the initial creation of the United States.

    Canada, you do your thing.

    • Chicago Fire, New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union. Maybe you heard of a little thing called the first continental congress. DC United, how appropriate for this team to be in our nations Capitol.

    • They were named for a silverback gorilla who was for many years the star of the city’s zoo. So the name actually did have a historical connection to Atlanta unlike the MLS team’s moniker “United.” In the past United was used when two neighboring clubs merged, but it’s lost all sense of meaning in the U.S.

      • Haha, I’m aware of what the Silverbacks name is based on, but I guess I should’ve been more thorough on why I don’t like the name. I was perhaps trying to be too concise by only saying that “I like names that relate a little more obviously and historically to the location” and then listing teams with names that relate to natural attributes that have related to that region for thousands of years.

        However, I think it’s safe to assume that most people in the US have never heard of Willie B, and therefore the Silverbacks name doesn’t register when they think of Atlanta.

        A less obscure, more historical reference might be made to the humid heat, or greek mythos (Atalanta), or peaches, or the Chattahoochee, or MLK Jr, or Ray Charles, or Coca-Cola, or Gone with the Wind, or sweet tea, or breakfast houses. . .I’m starting to annoy myself at this point, but even a reference to that wonderful aquarium would make more sense. I personally like the Firebirds or Phoenix, based on the city’s motto.

        Trigger Warning –

        My first time using a trigger warning, but I figured my tone is about to change pretty severely and I’m going to address racism, which doesn’t directly relate to my other three paragraphs, but is another reason why I’m uncomfortable with the name Atlanta Silverbacks.

        When I think of that region the first thing that comes to mind is the US Civil War, Slavery, plantations, the cotton gin. . . Basically, that region has a 400 year popular history of primate captivity, and they didn’t give up that way of life without a fight.

        It makes me wonder if highlighting this 40 year primate captive (Willie B) is at all about that deeper more profound history, even if subconsciously.

        I’m not sure my hypothesis/gut feeling hits the mark, but I don’t know of any other teams that are named after their local zoo attraction.

        And yeah, I understand why I don’t have a lot of friends on this site anymore. 😉

    • “FC” is a soccer/association football thing. Not every club do it, but there is a big chunk that do put the “FC” in the beginning or the end of the club name.

      • FC stands for “Football/Futbol Club”, so it makes sense in Canada or Mexico, but the US calls it soccer, and already has a popular tradition of another type of football. SC is the better acronym for american soccer clubs.

Leave a Comment