Battery return home ready to get back on track

For the first time in three weeks, the Battery are at home, preparing to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and looking to return to form with more of the depth which has helped them over the past few seasons as players return from injury.

Pittsburgh are in the midst of a two game week, with a trip to Louisville on Wednesday ending 2-2, with the Hounds finding an 86th minute equalizer thanks to a penalty. Despite this, their form hasn’t been great early on this season, and, like the Battery, they will be hoping to get back to the form that got them into the playoffs in 2015.

Romeo Parkes is a potential weapon for the visitors, with three goals in three games, tying him with the Battery’s own Romario Williams in fifth in the goalscoring charts.

Corey Hertzog is another to watch for Pittsburgh, with experience at various teams doing him well, including the Wilmington Hammerheads during their 2013 run toward the Championship game, as well as time in the NASL and MLS.

As for the home side, Maikel Chang returned to the fold against the Steel after spending a few weeks out with an injury, matched on the opposite flank by Dante Marini, while Ricky Garbanzo also featured late for the Black and Yellow, but was unable to change the outcome of the 0-0 draw. This will also be the home crowd’s first chance, presumably to see new signing Chris Tsonis in league action. The striker featured in preseason after spending last year with the Red Bulls, but only signed officially last week.

Odisnel Cooper also made his return last week, after seeing Alex Tambakis concede three goals in Charlotte, so the 2015 team MVP is in contention here. It will be interesting to see if last week was only to give Tambakis time to cool his head after a tough day at the office against a rival, or if Cooper will remain as he has experience with this back line.

Kevin Corby and Heviel Cordoves remain out, while the aforementioned Garbanzo and Forrest Lasso are probable, but other than that, there are no new injury concerns.

The problems up front are what will concern the Battery most, after the only outlier to a usually solid backline was conceding the three goals against Charlotte. But Romario Williams has shown that he is capable of finding where the goal is, and his chemistry with Ricky Garbanzo hasn’t really been explored yet, what with Garbanzo’s injury problems, so perhaps that will be the thing to keep an eye on for Saturday.

So, two teams looking to improve face off at MUSC Health Stadium on Saturday, with both needing the early points for similar, and somehow different reasons. The Match kicks off at 7:30. You can also stream the match on USL’s Youtube channel.

Photo Credit Ross Almers

Battery and Steel play out scoreless stalemate

The Battery were held to a scoreless, but not uneventful, draw against Bethlehem Steel FC on Sunday afternoon. The game remained open the entire time, but both defenses were staunch and neither team could find the push they needed to get over the line.

The match saw the return of Odisnel Cooper in goal for the Battery, in place of Alex Tambakis, who had a tough evening against Charlotte last time out. The match also gave us the debut of Chris Tsonis, who signed just a few hours before kick off.

The first ten minutes were a bit tense from both sides, but the match would find its feet in the 12th minute, when Walter Restrepo latched on to a pinpoint cross and picked out Derrick Jones, whose volley was fired over the bar.

It was Dante Marini’s first start of the year, with all previous appearances coming in the cameo fashion, and he nearly played in Attaulah Guerra on 15 with a nice ball inside his marker, but Guerra’s first touch was heavy and the chance was wasted.

Restrepo would continue to cause the Battery problems, again getting space for a cross after 17′, but the ball was cleared, and not before the Battery were given a free kick.

Attaulah Guerra then turned provider on 19 minutes, playing through to Romario Williams, but his shot was saved as it was too close to the Steel ‘keeper, John McCarthy.

Marini got himself to the byline a few minutes later, but his cross failed to find anyone in the box.

On 27 minutes, it was Obi Woodbine who picked up a bit of space, and played the ball low for Justin Portillo, but the midfielder couldn’t find any room for the shot and the ball was cleared away.

After 32′, Fernandes found Restrepo in the area, but the ball was cleared. Restrepo would get the ball back and go down under a challenge from Obi Woodbine, and a free kick was given. The set piece was eventually cleared with the hope of starting a Battery counter, but it broke down in midfield.

Three minutes later, the Battery had their best chance of the half, and perhaps the entire match. Guerra would get the ball on the left edge of the box with his back to goal, and eventually turning his man before firing toward the opposite corner, but his shot was just wide of the target.

With less than 10 minutes of the first half to go, it was Woodbine again causing trouble for the opposing defense. His cross was blocked for a corner, which was played in by Justin Portillo, then cleared away for another, which was played in and pinged around a couple times before Maikel Chang was called for a foul.

McCarthy would clear a quickly taken Battery free kick on the stroke of half time, which eventually led to a dangerous looking counter attack for the hosts, but Eric Ayuk‘s shot from a Ryan Richter cross was wide of Cooper’s left hand post.

The two teams went into the half time break with a good feeling, knowing that there would probably be another few chances in the game, so all was not lost

And the first of those chances would fall to the home side. It was again Ryan Richter, who was having a decent afternoon against his former side, who found Fabian Herbers in the middle, but his header lacked power and went wide.

The next chance was Steel FC’s too. Herbers would latch onto a ball from Fernandes which was pinpoint and took it in stride to run at Cooper, but the 2015 team MVP would make a good save down low to deny him.

Romario Williams did well this afternoon, but was at times left up on his own up front, meaning that even though he was solid, the day would end up as frustrating for the striker than anything else. However, after 67, his day was done, and he made way for Chris Tsonis, who had signed a few hours before the game. Tsonis was with the team in preseason camp, and remained in Charleston to train during the season, but only signed recently.

Tsonis caused a problem with his first touch, latching onto a throw-in and catching Bethlehem napping, nearly getting in behind to put in a through ball had it not been for a last ditch challenge by an oncoming defender, who cleared it for a corner, which led to nothing.

Maikel Chang would give away a dangerous foul on 72, setting up a free kick roughly 25 yards from goal. The set piece was taken by Fabian Herbers, who got it up and over the wall, but it lacked power and went safely into the arms of Cooper in goal.

With four minutes left, it was Chang again who would play in a ball from a free kick, but it had too much power and wafted over everyone.

And the last chance was played in by Justin Portillo with two minutes left. His cross was met by the debutant Tsonis, but he couldn’t be the hero as his header went wide.

And so, both sides would share the spoils, with the Battery earning their 2nd draw of the season. They return home to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, April 30th, at 7:30 PM.

 

 

 

 

 

Battery visit Bethlehem Steel in first meeting with new side

Last week’s loss in Charlotte was a kick in the teeth for the Battery, who had gone their first three games unbeaten. But coach Mike Anhaeuser will look to use the second half to build on, where the Battery scored two goals and nearly stole something at the end, rather than dwelling on a near disastrous first 45.

It’s the first meeting between the two sides, as Bethlehem Steel are part of the Philadelphia Union family, being their USL expansion side. The Steel have themselves a Battery connection however, with Ryan Richter, part of the 2012 league-winning side, captain of his new team in his first season after time spent with Ottawa Fury of the NASL.

The Steel have a few other players with USL and NASL experience, Walter Restrepo and Leo Fernandes were major parts of the New York Cosmos charge to the NASL title last year, while John McCarthy once plied his trade at Rochester before moving to the Union last year and making a handful of appearances. Fabian Herbers is of Generation Adidas stock and played for the Union before the USL season started. Eric Ayuk is another player to be aware of, an attacking midfielder from Cameroon.

The Battery will hope to put behind them a game which was as much ruled by mistakes than anything else. All three of the goals conceded were down to lapses by the Battery’s usual staunch defense. A penalty given away by Shawn Ferguson was perhaps the kick in the teeth, which gave the Battery a mountain to climb at the end of the first half. A goal from Romario Williams, who himself has been in decent form, and a late penalty of their own converted by Justin Portillo gave the Battery hope, but by which time the Independence had been three goals up before the comeback started, and with ten men after the sending off of Zach Prince, the Battery fell just short.

Prince, serving the first of a two game ban, will be unavailable for the Black and Yellow, as well as center forward Heviel Cordoves, who has a neck problem. The good news being that Maikel Chang and Ricky Garbanzo, who both missed the trip to Charlotte, were back in full training this week. Hopefully meaning that despite some more injury problems, the two can make some impact.

And so, a trip to Steel FC’s stadium on the campus of Lehigh Valley University could prove to be educational in one way or another for the Battery. The match kicks off at 3PM on Sunday afternoon.

 

 

Mistakes cost the Battery in away trip to Charlotte

Mistakes are what would be the Battery’s demise on Saturday, as they lost to the Charlotte Independence away from home on Saturday night. The Independence would take a two goal lead into half time, before a third was added halfway into the second half. The Battery would mount a comeback, with Romario Williams and Justin Portillo on the scoresheet, but the uphill battle was too much for the Black and Yellow, who fell to their first loss of the season.

The Battery started off well, with Obi Woodbine sending in one of his trademark long throws as early as the 10th minute, but the ball pinged around before finding the grateful arms of Cody Mizell in goal for Charlotte.

Alex Tambakis  for the Battery was forced into his first save of the evening after 12 minutes, when a shot from range by Caleb Calvert would test the Greek goalkeeper.

It was as if Calvert’s effort spurred his team on, as the ensuing corner driven in by Enzo Martinez was met by Brian Brown, however, his shot was wide.

Calvert scuffed one a few minutes later, when Tambakis would come out of his goal to intercept a cross, but hit his clearance straight into the striker, whose shot on the turn went hopelessly over the bar as it was hit with too much power.

On 18, Brown was put through by Martinez for Charlotte, but Shawn Ferguson would clear. The ensuing corner wouldn’t pay off either, and was cleared.

But in the 24th minute, things would get a bit sticky for the visitors as Yan Ekra would play a long ball forward into the Charlotte box. The ball was cut out by defender Ferguson, but Enzo Martinez would steal the ball back for the home side, before being fouled in the box by Ferguson. The referee would point to the spot, and it was Martinez who would dispatch the penalty to open the scoring.

It was no more than Charlotte deserved after being the better team in the early going, and the penalty was the right decision from the referee.

Despite this, a penalty was given at the other end after Romario Williams would have latched onto a Justin Portillo free kick just three minutes later. However, the Battery striker was adjudged to be offside by the linesman, and given that the offside ruling came first, and that the linesman had a better vantage point along the line, the referee reversed his decision and gave a free kick to Charlotte.

And the home side would capitalize on 31, when Martinez, who was having himself a field day down the right for Charlotte, got a cross in to Caleb Calvert, whose shot went off the bar, before Brian Brown would pick up the pieces and shoot on the turn to double the lead.

The offside was slightly dubious perhaps, but again, Charlotte had been the better side before the goal, and were beneficiaries of their good play rather than anything else.

And so, the teams would go in at half time with Charlotte deservedly in front, with the Battery knowing that their second half performance would need to improve.

Lewis Hilton was a halftime substitution for Charlotte, having made sub appearances in three of the last four games, replacing Jun Davidson in midfield.

After the break, Charlotte had some decent passing that led to a cross by Joel Johnson, but Tambakis was there to collect.

The Battery’s first shot of the night wasn’t until the second half, and it was by Attaulah Guerra, who latched on to a long pass by Emmanuel Adjetey, before turning his man inside, but he could get no power on the effort and it went harmlessly into the ‘keeper’s arms.

Shots were then deflected again, one by Zach Prince and another by Quinton Griffith, the latter of which was again into t arms of the ‘keeper, but the Battery were beginning to show signs of life.

But Enzo Martinez would look to change that with a slaloming run past two and three of the Battery’s defenders, but his effort would go wide.

Quinton Griffith would then be replaced by Dante Marini. Griffith, more known these days as a right back, slotted in on the right wing tonight. Marini coming in was a sign that the Battery were going to go for it in the final minutes, as Marini brought pace and trickery to the Battery’s game.

But things would have to get worse before they got better for the visitors. Emmanuel Adjetey initially did well to get himself to a ball inside his own box, before passing to Shawn Ferguson, and the center back would turn, looking to play the ball out. However, his pass had next to no power on it as it looked for a team mate outside the box, and was intercepted by substitute Jorge Herrera, who had time to turn away from his man and get himself into space, firing past Alex Tambakis in the Battery goal to increase the Charlotte lead.

The lead was 3-0, and it looked gone for the away side, but football is a funny game, and the Black and Yellow would continue to attack.

With 18 minutes left, Shawn Ferguson would give away a free kick, which led to a shot by Brian Brown, which Tambakis saved with relative ease.

And on 75 minutes, after a corner by the Battery led to a blocked shot, the Independence would come away with the ball, and an eventual shot by Brian Brown would go wide.

But just a minute later, the Battery had a lifeline. Zach Prince got the ball about 40 yards from goal, and fed Romario Williams, who timed his run to perfection, taking a touch before sliding home to pull one back. The goal was Williams’ third in four, as he continues his decent form on loan from the Montreal Impact.

Brian Brown would have a chance on 82 after beating Emmanuel Adjetey for pace on the right, but he couldn’t get a shot away.

And a minute later, the mountain got a little bit more steep for the Battery, when Zach Prince’s foul in midfield on Jorge Herrera led to a red card. It looked as if Prince had stepped in front of the man, getting the ball, before the man and winning the challenge, but the referee adjudged the midfielder to have gone in with his feet a bit high and the Battery were reduced to ten.

But Romario Williams earned his team a free kick on the wing after holding the ball up well and drawing in his defender. Justin Portillo would take, and it would be headed back across to Dante Marini, who was fouled inside the box, and the referee gave a penalty with five minutes to go.

It was Justin Portillo to step up, and he would dispatch to ensure a tense end to proceedings.

And it was Williams who could’ve been a hero again, after a long ball played in by late sub Connor Sloan, earning his first professional minutes, which Williams would latch onto at the back post early into stoppage time, but his shot would lack power and Mizell would save, ensuring all three points would go the way of Charlotte.

And so, despite even more late drama, it was the Battery’s mistakes that would eventually be their downfall. They next travel to Bethlehem Steel FC on Sunday, April 24th. Please note the 3PM Kickoff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battery looking to continue momentun against Charlotte

After some more late heroics last week, the Black and Yellow travel to the Charlotte Independence looking to earn their first three points away from home this season.

It’s another Southern Derby, and one which will count in Southern Derby Cup standings, which the Battery have the upper hand in after their win against Wilmington last week.

For Personnel matters, the Battery have had some bad luck concerning injuries. Four of the five players out have gotten injured outside of matches. Kevin Corby rolled his ankle and required surgery, which will keep him out for five to seven weeks. Ricky Garbanzo, despite making the 18 last week, never featured in the win and hasn’t really trained since receiving a knock at the start of the month. Forrest Lasso is also out after sustaining an injury in the warm ups against Wilmington, and Maikel Chang hurt his leg in training at the start of this week. Naveal Hackshaw, who was in the wars for a lot of the game against the Hammerheads and had to eventually be subbed off near the end, ran on Tuesday after his knee swole up after the match. However, it is only Corby who is listed as out, with Garbanzo and Lasso listed as questionable.

Battery ‘keeper Alex Tambakis has been solid since coming in on loan, keeping four clean sheets in five matches this season (including one in the last friendly against New York Cosmos) but conceded his first goal last week against Wilmington despite having a decent game. His performances have kept Odisnel Cooper out of the team so far, and he will hope his form continues as the season goes on.

Romario Williams, another loan signing for the Battery, has two goals in three games, adding pace and a bit of trickery to the Battery attack. His goals thus far have been vital, a winner against FC Cincinnati, and then opening the scoring against Wilmington last week after just two minutes. However, in between those, his game away at Orlando was quiet off the bench for Heviel Cordoves, so this week gives him a chance to prove that that was just a one-off.

Last year, Charlotte ended the season with a 3-1 loss against the Battery, which left them outside of the playoffs by just one point. This week gives them an early crack at the team which ended their season, and Charlotte will no doubt be looking for a spot of revenge.

A player to watch for them is Yann Ekra, who has previously plied his trade at Harrisburg, but has been known to be a threat in the center of the park. Caleb Calvert is on loan from MLS side Colorado Rapids, and is a capable threat up front, who will give the Battery backline well enough to handle.

It’s worth noting that the Battery haven’t started the same XI for two weeks in a row in the fledgling season, which speaks to the team’s depth, but is also unlucky for one reason or another. Injury and international duty have kept a few players out, which after everyone is fit and available will help the team gel as the season progresses.

And so, the Battery travel to Charlotte with a little bit of momentum, but must be wary of an Independence side with more than enough potential to pick up points themselves.

Header Image: Attaulah Guerra‘s effort early on last week looked to double the Battery’s lead. Photo credit Ross Almers

 

 

 

 

More late heroics earn Battery win in season’s first Southern Derby

We promised a good game, and a good game it proved to be, as the Battery prevailed over rivals the Wilmington Hammerheads to take all the spoils in the first Southern Derby of the season.

The Battery were on the front foot from the start, and the first attack paid dividends as an early Obi Woodbine throw in from outside the box found the head of Taylor Mueller, whose redirect toward goal clattered off the crossbar. However, Romario Williams, earning his first start of the year in place of Heviel Cordoves, was there to clean up at the doorstep to slide the ball past John Smits in goal for the Hammerheads. It was Williams’ second goal of the season, the first earning his team the win on opening day against FC Cincinnati.

Long throws would be a problem early on for Wilmington, and a long throw from the opposite side after seven minutes, and Maikel Chang would keep the ball alive in the area before it eventually fell to Attaulah Guerra, who took up more of a forward role in the usual 4-2-3-1 after Naveal Hakshaw took up the holding role in midfield, but Guerra’s effort was saved by Smits.Attaullah.JPG

Just about a minute later, the Battery earned a free kick that was played to Guerra, who slipped in Chang with a nice pass, but the winger was somewhat indecisive, and Smits claimed.

Things got a bit worse for the visitors, as after just 12 minutes, experienced full back Tom Parratt would have to be replaced for Michael Meechum due to injury.

Last year’s assist leader, Maikel Chang would slip in striker Williams on the wing after 16, but Smits in goal again would show good command of his area and collect.

Some cute play on the edge of the 18 yard box would find its way to Williams a couple minutes later, but after taking his marker inside and creating space for the shot, the effort went wide.

Naveal Hackshaw, who was having himself a decent display in the first half, would stay down and require treatment in the 27th minute, but would come back on shortly after.

But after 31 minutes, with really their first chance, Wilmington would strike back. A pinpoint cross by Mael Corboz sought out an attacker, and Bruno Perone rose highest to steer it past Alex Tambakis in goal for the Battery to level the scoring at 1-1.

A dangerous cross by the Battery’s Hackshaw seemed to strike the arm of an opponent in the box just before half time, but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty, and both teams went into the changing rooms all square.

The Battery kicked off the second half, and looked as if they would start it similar to the first when the earned a throw in deep inside the opposing half. This time, however, there was a disconnect as the ball ran out for a goal kick.

The man who had the Wilmington assist, Mael Carboz, would have a crack at goal in the 50th minute, but the shot wouldn’t trouble Tambakis in goal as it went high over the bar.

Just past the hour mark, Romario Williams would be replaced by Heviel Cordoves. Williams, while looking lively in a Battery shirt so far, is working his way into his new surroundings while on loan from Montreal Impact, and put in a decent shift this evening, scoring the opening goal.

Justin Portillo worked hard to steal the ball after 64′, but his shot from just outside the box had no power and failed to trouble the ‘keeper as it went harmlessly wide.

With 20 minutes left, a Wilmington corner would be cleared after a bit of a scramble, which led to a Battery counter, but the attack would break down at the last.

The home side had slowly gained back the foothold they established early on, and went in search of yet another late decider, as the corner earned from the breakaway was dangerous, but the Wilmington defense would clear after two attempts.

With 15 to go, Obi Woodbine had the chance to cross with men in the box from the right, but hesitated a bit too long as his ball eventually would sail over everyone’s head.

It was the striker Cordoves with the next chance on 78’, when he stood up and turned his man inside the box, but couldn’t control his effort as it went wide.

Attaulah Guerra would be replaced by Dante Marini with nine minutes left, Marini being the go-to for fresh legs and a bit of pace, especially late in games.

The home side continued their pressure, as shortly after, Justin Portillo would whip in a dangerous ball with pace toward the back post, but the runner couldn’t get there in time to connect.

But sure enough, the pressure would tell for the Black and Yellow, as with just five minutes to go, a corner played in by Portillo would find the head of center back Taylor Mueller who would not be denied after his near miss in the first half, putting his header firmly into the back of the net before racing away to the Regiment end in E1 to celebrate amongst the smoke and all the love.

Tay.JPG

Austin Savage would get a cameo with 3 minutes left, coming on for Naveal Hackshaw, who had worked himself into the ground for most of the game and picked up a few knocks along the way.

The Hammerheads would have one last chance however, on 93 minutes, when the ball was played long into the box. Battery ‘keeper Tambakis would come to claim, but not get there as the Wilmington players would bundle the ball into the net, but the referee adjudged that Tambakis was fouled, and the goal was disallowed.

And that’s the way the game ended. The Battery earned another tough 3 points at home against a good Hammerheads side, and took this year’s first Southern Derby, drawing first blood in the Southern Derby Cup.

Their 12 shots to Wilmington’s two, with five on target, would tell you that it was probably deserved, but strange things can happen in games like these, and the Battery can feel grateful that their nerves held.

Next week, Friday, April 16th, the Battery travel to Charlotte for another Southern Derby clash against the Charlotte Independence, which kicks off at 7:00. You can watch the match on USL’s official YouTube channel.

Header Image: Romario Williams cleans things up on the doorstep to open the scoring, his second in three games. Photo credit Ross Almers.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Floridian teams vie for crack at the Battery in the Cup

Now in its 103rd year, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has pitted two Florida teams against each other in the first round of the tournament. The winner gets the chance to travel to Charleston for a May 18th clash against the Battery.

The two teams are The Villages SC of the PDL, and Kraze United from the PDL.

The Battery’s best run in the Cup came in 2008 when the Battery made the final of the oldest US Cup competition, losing unluckily to DC United, but the Black and Yellow have been known as giant killers in the past.

The club has a number of high-profile wins against MLS clubs, of course having to knock off a few in the 2008 run, but whether in friendly tournaments such as the Carolina Challenge Cup or in cup competition, the Battery have always been a threat to America’s top teams. They must hope that that trend continues this year.