Deluge dilutes Battery in loss to Louisville

The Battery came off second best against Eastern Conference leaders Louisville City in a washed-out affair on Friday night. The conditions definitely had a part to play in the result, as the ball played quick on an extremely wet surface, but Louisville can indeed say that they were the better team.

A long ball forward on four minutes was handled by a Louisville defender in the fourth minute, but the referee played advantage and Romario Williams dummied off to Ricky Garbanzo, whose dipping effort went just over the bar, but it gave Gregory Ranjitsingh his first slight scare of the evening.

Quinton Griffith‘s mishit clearance led to a chance for Louisville shortly afterward, but the effort went wide and didn’t trouble Odisnel Cooper in goal.

But Louisville would indeed find the breakthrough after 20 minutes, full back Kyle Smith did well to get into a crossing position and found George Davis IV with a low drive. Davis hit the shot first time, leaving Cooper in goal with no chance and gave the visitors an early lead.

For the most part, the goal was deserved, Louisville were looking more attacking and passing well, while the Battery’s usual crisp passing was letting them down, balls being misplayed, or going out wide because of the conditions. The Battery had a few half chances from set pieces played into the box, but couldn’t fashion any real threat, and Louisville capitalized.

But 8 minutes after the opener, the Battery could have equalized. A one-two pass in midfield eventually found its way to Romario Williams, the Battery’s leading scorer, but his effort would be blocked. Attaulah Guerra would have a go on the rebound, but his effort would go wide of goal.

Ilja Illic found his way through the Battery backline on the half hour mark and left him 1-on-1 with Cooper, but the ‘keeper stayed big when it looked as if he was certain to be beaten, and the score stayed 1-0.

A deflected shot eight minutes later went out for a Louisville Corner, which wasn’t cleared properly. It bounced around and found a few heads before eventually falling to Smith for LCFC, whose semi-acrobatic shot looped over Cooper to double the lead.

Perhaps the Battery were unlucky to concede the second goal, or at least in that manner, but they found themselves a pair of goals down headed into half time, and some calm was needed.

But on 51, things would go from bad to worse for the Battery. Romario Williams would slide in on a defender from behind, and the referee would issue a straight red card. While the conditions meant that Williams would lose his footing while trying to go for the ball, the challenge was still ill-timed, and ill-advised. The Battery would face the remaining minutes with 10 men.

On the hour mark, Maikel Chang, who had a quiet night by his standards, and Ricky Garbanzo, who wasn’t the type of forward that the Battery were looking for in the given situation, would be replaced by Dante Marini and Heviel Cordoves, Marini adding pace and width, and Cordoves adding the target man that the Battery would need.

On 73, Cooper had to smuggle a through ball before it could be latched onto by a Louisville Forward, as the Battery’s woes continued.

And George Davis will have wondered how he didn’t double his tally on 75, after he latched onto a superb long ball and rounded Cooper, but the ‘keeper remained composed, shutting down the angle for the easy finish, and forcing Davis to go for power, which meant the shot went high.

The Battery nearly got a consolation with ten minutes left, which would have made the remaining minutes nervous for the leaders, after Quinton Griffith’s run down the left caused problems. His cross found no one, but popped all the way over to the man on the opposite flank, Obrien Woodbine, whose cross had to force the goalkeeper into a save as he sprawled backward. The rebound fell to the diving head of Justin Portillo, but he couldn’t put the shot on target.

And so, the Battery fell 2-0 to the league leaders. The weather no doubt played a part, but Louisville can go home happy, having put a good shift in and coming away with the three points.

The Battery’s next game comes thick and fast, as they travel to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Armada of the NASL in the US Open Cup 3rd round.

 

 

 

Battery set for top of the table clash

The Battery welcome Louisville City FC to town Saturday, in what’s sure to be a mouth watering fixture. Lou City sit at the top of the Eastern Conference, three points off their closest competitors, NYRB II and the Battery themselves, who remain tied on points at 18, with NYRB having a +4 goal difference.

The visitors were one of the best teams to watch last year, and have carried on full steam ahead in this campaign, with only one loss in their first ten games, going 6-1-3 so far this year.

Jon Chandler Hoffman is Lou City’s primary goalscorer, and has 7 goals to his name out of the 17 LCFC have scored so far this year, and so the defense will surely have their hands full, as his tally has him 3rd in the goalscoring charts behind Jack McBean of LA Galaxy II and Kyle Greig of Vancouver

Like the Battery, Louisville have given significant time to both ‘keepers this year, Joseph Goodwin and Gregory Ranjitsingh. Ranjitsingh has kept more clean sheets than Goodwin, and given that this is a big game, the manager might go for the more reliable of the two.

The defense for Louisville has kept 4 clean sheets in its last four, with wins over Toronto and St. Louis, and draws against Richmond and Bethlehem Steel.

For the Black and Yellow, there’s more good news on the injury front, with Taylor Meuller and Obrien Woodbine, who missed the trip to Wilmington last week, trained all week this week, and look to be back part of the backline come 7:30 on Saturday.

Given this fact, Shawn Ferguson and Forrest Lasso, the latter of whom deputized for Meuller, did well to marshal the back line in a 1-0 win last week, with Ferguson capping off his performance with an excellent backheel on his way to earning USL Team Of The Week honors for the second time this year.

Like with that backline and Hoffman at the forefront of Lou City’s attack, the visitors will have to be more than wary of the Battery’s weapons. Romario Williams sits only one goal behind Hoffman in the USL scoring charts, and is always a goal threat. Add that to the form that players like Maikel Chang, Justin Portillo and Ricky Garbanzo have been in of late and you have yourself a very dangerous combination. Keep in mind also that no less than 10 players have scored this year for the Black and Yellow, and so, realistically, they are a threat from anywhere.

So, these two teams have come into this match on very similar runs of form, which makes for a very intriguing match. Kick off is at 7:30, and the match can be streamed at the USL Match Center.

TOP IMAGE: QUINTON GRIFFITH RUNS AT HIS MARKER IN THE BATTERY’S 2-0 WIN OVER TFC II. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO

Ferguson backheel earns Battery win over rivals

Charleston Battery defender Shawn Ferguson’s audacious backheel from a corner that was the winner as the Battery came away with a 1-0 victory in a Southern Derby against the Wilmington Hammerheads.

The first 30 minutes were sun-drenched and cautious from both sides, but it was the touch of class from the Battery captain that settled it. The win was the Black and Yellow’s third on the bounce, and moves them into a tie for second place with New York Red Bulls II, though NYRB have a game in hand.

Wilmington loanee Casey Townsend had the first chance of the evening, after latching onto a ball played into the box, but his shot went helplessly over the bar and never troubled Odisnel Cooper.

Jon Smits at the other end was forced into his first save of the evening after Romario Williams turned his man in the box and fired toward goal, but the shot lacked venom and was saved easily by the goalkeeper.

The 18 or so minutes following that were spent with both teams passing back and forth in midfield, trying and failing to unlock each other’s defenses. the closest anyone came to a goal was a 23rd minute cross into the box that was wafted in with a little too much height and collected easily by Cooper for the Battery. The game had lulled a little, and it would take something different to open things up.

And Battery captain Shawn Ferguson took that as an opportunity. Romario Williams earned his team a corner in the 32nd minute, taking the ball from the left of the penalty area and firing toward goal, forcing Smits to palm the ball behind with a diving save. It was Justin Portillo who would play the ball in, and after a possible flick on from the first man, Ferguson met the ball with an agile flick of the boot to redirect the ball and give the away side the advantage.

The goal did seem to come out of nowhere, but the Battery have shown many a time before that they are dangerous from set pieces, and this time it was Wilmington who paid the price for failing to mark well. It was Ferguson’s first goal of the year, and meant that no less than 10 players have found their way onto the scoresheet for the Battery in their first 10 games of the year, as if we needed anymore evidence that the Battery are multidimensional.

The game did need a goal, and it began to open up a bit more after that. Mael Corboz’ free kick was played in from the right, and cleared away before being brought down on the wing and eventually falling to Austin Martz, whose shot curled away from goal after initially looking dangerous, and went out for a goal kick.

And so the Battery went in at half-time 1-0 up,  though the game in truth, was pretty even. Wilmington of course would have to come out a bit more in the second half, which could open up more space for the Battery, especially knowing how dangerous they could be on the counter.

But it wasn’t until the 52nd minute that the Battery got their next chance. Romario Williams made his way out to the middle of the D, and shaped up for a shot before he was fouled, but the referee played the advantage well as the ball popped out to Zach Prince, who played Maikel Chang on the wing, before his layoff to Ricky Garbanzo led to a smart save by John Smits for Wilmington, but the ensuing corner led to naught.

But on 55′, Wilmington had a dangerous chance of their own, when a corner was played deep and back across, but couldn’t find the onrushing attacker’s outstretched leg and went out for a goal kick.

Just before the hour mark, another Hammerheads corner led only to a scary looking counter for the Battery, spearheaded by Ricky Garbanzo, but he was taken down just short of midfield and a foul was given. The defender had to take one for the team, but was lucky that there were team mates close to him or the foul could have ended his evening.

In the 72nd minute Romario Williams came off to be replaced by Heviel Cordoves, which is something Wilmington fans don’t like to see. This was Cordoves’ first appearance since the 9th of April, after being sidelined through a neck problem.

And on 79′, things would get worse for Wilmington. Dante Marini, who replaced Garbanzo a few minutes earlier, had the beating of his man, Liam Miller on the far side going down the wing. Had he not been fouled, the winger would have been through on goal, but unlike the previous foul on Garbanzo at around midfield, Miller’s challenge resulted in a red card as he was the last man that prevented Marini from a goalscoring opportunity, which meant the home side would have to play the last ten minutes and change with 10 men.

And Marini would cause problems again just a couple seconds later, this time popping up on the left and playing in an inch perfect ball reminiscent of the goal Romario Williams scored last week. This time, however, it was Heviel Cordoves on the receiving end, but Smits was there to make the save, and the ensuing corner was cleared. You’d actually think that perhaps a fully fit Cordoves would’ve doubled the lead for the visitors, but not this time.

The Battery could have had a penalty a couple of minutes later, when Justin Portillo played Attaula Guerra, who like Cordoves was just coming back from injury. Guerra did well to turn his man but went down under a challenge from the defender on the inside edge of the box, though the referee decided against pointing to the spot.

Mael Corboz had a crack with four minutes to go that went hopelessly wide off the mark without troubling Cooper, but there would be one last chance for the home side to equalize.

It came from a bit of a Battery mistake as the ball wasn’t cleared in Odisnel Cooper’s penalty area, but there was no space for anyone to bring the ball down, which resulted in a bit of head tennis before the ball was directed on goal by a Wilmington head. The dipping effort had the ‘keeper scrambling backward, but ended up on the roof of the net, belying the home fans who thought the ball had dropped over the ‘keeper and gone in.

So, it was a bit of magic that settled a fairly even game. The Hammerheads are always a tough opponent for the Battery, and even in the midst of a slump like the one they’re on, tend to bring an extra level in games against their Southern Rival, but for the second time this year, it was the Black and Yellow who prevailed.

The next match is at home against Eastern Conference leaders Louisville City FC. Kick off is at 7:30.

Top Image: Taylor Meuller seals the Battery’s first win against Wilmington back in April with a header from a corner at the death.  Credit: Ross Almers Photography

Battery travel to Wilmington turning focus back on league play

The dust has somewhat settled on the midweek drama that was the Battery’s second round US Open Cup clash with The Villages SC, and it is time to get back to the bread and butter. That begins with the trip to Wilmington to take on their Southern Derby rival Hammerheads.

While Charleston came through the Cup tie by forfeiture, Wilmington dismantled the Miami Fusion of the NPSL by a score of 6-0. It will be interesting to see if the Hammerheads go in to the tie with tails up off the back of such a comfortable win.

Having said that, it’s been awhile since the Hammerheads have won a match in the USL. But form goes out the window in derby meetings, and playing at home will certainly be an advantage for them, as it was for the Battery in the previous meeting, when Taylor Meuller popped up with a late winner from a corner which gave the Battery all three points. Meuller, though, went off at the end of the first half against Toronto with a muscle injury, and did not play Wednesday in the Cup, and might again be rested this weekend, if anything as a precaution.

Mael Corboz for Wilmington is perhaps what the likes of Maikel Chang or Justin Portillo are for the Battery, always creating chances for his team mates, tying the league high in assists with three, with one of those being against the Battery on 4/9, and is also always dangerous from a set piece.

The problem, it seems, for Wilmington is more about putting chances away, and not particularly about creating such chances. However, the jitters may have been worked out in front of goal with that 6-0 drubbing of Miami, something the Battery must be wary of.

However, the Battery have been clicking up front in recent weeks. With the aforementioned Chang and Romario Williams as the focal points in the attack for the Black and Yellow. Williams has three in his last three league games, but was only a substitute for the US Open Cup match in midweek. One of his six goals, which is tied for fourth in the league, opened the scoring back in April when these two sides last met, and his current form has been no doubt welcomed, what with injury striking at very inopportune moments.

Having said that, Heviel Cordoves made the bench for Wednesday’s Cup match, and has been a threat to Wilmington in the past, so it’s best to keep that in mind going into this weekend. Kevin Corby remains out, but the only new addition to the injury list may be the previously mentioned Mueller.

A possible strike partner for Williams might be Chris Tsonis, who scored his first goal for the Battery on Wednesday in the Cup from a set piece, eventually sending the match to extra time. Williams and Tsonis both started the Battery’s last away match against Harrisburg, and like the manager’s penchant for swapping ‘keepers for road trips, it’ll be interesting to see if the Battery begin to play with a two-up-front system on their travels instead of the 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 that they usually go with at home.

Both teams had very different weeks leading up to this match, but who will be the one to come away with an important three points? You’ll see at the end of 90 minutes. Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 7PM and can be viewed at the USL Game Center on their website.

 

 

 

Villages SC Upset Battery but field a Cup-Tied player

While Wednesday’s US Open Cup match between the Charleston Battery and The Villages SC ended with the visitors pulling off the upset on following a 4-2 victory in the Penalty shootout, it is the Battery who will move on after The Villages striker Paulo Vaz had played in the local qualifying rounds for Boca Raton FC:

US Soccer has commented on the situation via press release:

“Following Wednesday’s Second Round, the Charleston Battery (USL) filed a protest of their shootout defeat to The Villages SC (PDL), claiming their opponent used an ineligible player. The U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel reviewed the matter earlier today and ruled in favor of Charleston, declaring the Battery the winner via forfeit. Charleston now advances to the Third Round to face the Jacksonville Armada (NASL). The Panel determined that Paulo Vaz had previously played for Boca Raton Football Club during the local qualifying rounds and was thus ineligible to play in the Open Cup for another team during the competition year.”

The rules clearly state that any player who played for a team in any round of the tournament can not play for any other team in the tournament year:

Any player who plays in any part of an Open Cup match for a team, including any match in any Open Division qualifying round, may not be included in the Open Cup roster or play for any other team in the Open Cup competition for that competition year.”

Both ‘keepers pulled off a string of impressive saves in the match, but it was Paulo Pita who kept his nerve in the shootout to win the match on the night. It’s a shame that an oversight such as the one that occurred here would knock out The Villages, but surely such an occurrence should have been avoided.

Carlos Arujo opened the scoring on 23 minutes for the visitors, before Dante Marini levelled on the stroke of half time, as he continued his decent run of form.

Goalkeeper Alex Tambakis was left flat footed as a great cross was met by the Villages striker in the middle of the box to make it 2-1 on 67′.

But it was Chris Tsonis’ first goal for the Battery which sent us to extra time after 83 minutes, connecting with a Maikel Chang cross from a corner.

A scoreless extra time meant penalties, where the Villages goalkeeper Pita saved spot kicks from Justin Portillo and Zach Prince on the way to a 4-2 shootout win to advance to the next round, however, it was discovered on Thursday morning that Paulo Vaz had previously played for another team in the tournament. The Battery protested the result, and the US Open Cup Adjudication and Disciplinary board ruled in favor of the Battery, meaning that they will now face the NASL’s Jacksonville Armada in the third round.

The loss would have eliminated the Black and Yellow from the tournament, though the recent revelation means that they move on.

The next match, however, is on May 21st, as the Black and Yellow visit Wilmington Hammerheads. Kickoff is at 7.

Photo Credit Vin Duffy/Charleston Battery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Williams, Chang power Battery past Toronto

Romario Williams and Maikel Chang were the names on everyone’s lips Saturday night as the Battery dispatched Toronto FC II 2-0. Williams scored the opener just 11 minutes in before Chang added a goal of his own to go along with the assist of the first early in the second half.

With only three minutes gone, the Battery already were looking sharpest as goalkeeper Alex Bono let Williams steal in and claim the ball from his feet, but the forward’s first touch took him away from goal, which meant he had to turn and shoot instead of taking it in stride, and the ‘keeper atoned for his mistake by making a decent save from close range to deny the Battery’s top scorer.

Justin Portillo had another excellent game, and it was his ball that set up Quinton Griffith on the left. He controlled well before having a shot at goal which hit the side netting, but it probably wasn’t the best option as there were men queuing up in the middle for the full back to slide the ball across.

But the early pressure would indeed tell, as Ricky Garbanzo‘s perfectly weighted ball to Maikel Chang, who burst past his marker on the left before splitting the defense with an excellent ball up to the striker Williams, whose first time finish went off the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.

The goal was Romario’s third in as many games, and took his goal tally to five, which puts him squarely in 3rd place in the USL scoring charts. The goal also was somewhat precious to the home side, who’ve found early goals hard to come by this year, despite starting most games well.

And four minutes later, it could’ve been two. In an almost carbon copy of the first effort, this time it was Zach Prince who played in Garbanzo to have a go down the left side, and Garbanzo found Williams, but this time it was the ‘keeper, Bono, who would make the save to keep the score at 1-0.

In the 22nd minute, Mitch Traintor was booked for grabbing a streaking Ricky Garbanzo at midfield, stopping a counter opportunity which could have led to a chance for the home side.

But then, on the half hour mark, Toronto were threatening, as defender Wes Charpie headed the ball back across goal following a dangerous cross, but Adam Bouchard didn’t connect well and the ball was cleared.

Toronto would have a dangerous looking corner cleared on 34, before after 36 minutes, Aiden Daniels forced Odisnel Cooper into a good save after speeding through the Battery defense.

Obi Woodbine would speed past his marker on the right with 5 minutes left in the first half,  playing in a dangerous cross to Williams in the box, but the ball bobbled and the shot went over the crossbar.

Q TFC II

Taylor Meuller would have to leave the game after going down with an injury on the stroke of half time, and Forrest Lasso, who scored last Monday in the 3-2 win against Harrisburg, would come in at the start of the second half.

And with just five minutes gone in the second half, the home side doubled their advantage. Ricky Garbanzo, who had himself a good first half, recently back from injury, went down in the box, but the ball would pop back out to Maikel Chang, whose shot was blocked by a TFC defender, but Zach Prince would pick up the pieces on the rebound and recycle the chance, bringing the ball out to the wing and eventually crossing back in, and the ball was missed by two separate defenders before finding its way back to Chang, who coolly struck the effort first time past Bono in goal.

After the hour mark, a ball was played long and taken down well which looked dangerous for Toronto, but Obi Woodbine stood firm as his man tripped while trying to cut inside, and the ball was cleared.

ZACH TFC II

Then, there were a few substitutions made. First, it was Maikel Chang who came off for Dante Marini. Due to injuries, suspensions, and rest, Marini has played a decent amount of games in recent weeks, and is in good form, while he is often a threat off the bench. Chang’s goal and assist capped off an impressive week for the winger, where he was one of the bright spots in a two game road trip. Which isn’t bad, as he had recently returned from injury, and played 90 minutes in both games,  all this meaning he had surely earned a well deserved rest.

Chris Tsonis was the next Battery substitute, coming on for Romario Williams a few minutes later. Tsonis made his first start of the season for the Battery in Harrisburg, and was frustrated by his marker for most of the match, but did have some good touches, and Williams could again be proud of his night’s work.

With just about 15 minutes left, Toronto had another decent chance to reduce the Battery’s lead. A Corner kick from the left would be played in, but the flick on and shot would be saved by Odisnel Cooper, who was on the spot to collect.

And that’s how things ended. It was a good win and a solid showing from the Battery, who collected their first clean sheet since April 24th in a draw with Bethlehem Steel FC.

The next match is the beginning of the Battery’s cup adventure for 2016, as the Battery play Florida based Villages S.C.

TOP IMAGE: BATTERY PLAYERS WHEEL OFF TO CELEBRATE ROMARIO WILLIAMS’ OPENING GOAL. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

Battery host Toronto looking to kickstart season

The Battery return home to face TFC II, a team that has proved tricky in previous meetings between the two sides, but after a hard fought win on Monday, they will be looking for something to build on.

After resting players following the two games in four days, the Battery will look to be back to full strength on Saturday, with only the two previous injuries to Kevin Corby and Heviel Cordoves the outliers, while Attaulah Guerra is questionable.

Zach Prince came back from his two-game ban in the match against Rochester, and picked up an assist on the first goal, while he played a more central role against the Islanders, and came off to be replaced by Naveal Hackshaw in the second half. Ricky Garbanzo, Maikel Chang and Forrest Lasso have returned from injury, and all three played pivotal roles in last weekend’s matches.

The Battery’s new signing Jose Nazareno will also look to be involved, as he was an unused sub in sub in both fixtures last week, but adds a wee bit more depth to the squad. It would be nice to see what he can do in front of a home crowd.

For TFC II, despite their recent troubles, they do have some players who will definitely cause a threat to the Battery defense. There’s Raheem Edwards, who notched up half his side’s goals last year, and has four goals so far in this campaign. Mo Babouli was one of TFC II’s better players last term as well, and was a product of the TFC Academy, but earned a contract with the first team for this year, and has appeared in two of TFC II’s fixtures this year.

Romario Williams seems to be enjoying life on loan from the Montreal Impact, with his 5 goals this season taking him to number three on the USL top scorer list, and he’ll surely be hoping that his current form could continue against his parent club’s rivals.

The aforementioned Garbanzo could also be another weapon after his return from injury, and it will be interesting to see whether he and Williams will play together, as the pairing has been as of yet somewhat untapped. We’ll see if that changes as the season goes on.

And so, the match between the Battery and Toronto FC II might just turn out to be a cracker, as both teams need the points to kickstart their campaigns.The match kicks off at 7:30, and is available to stream on the USL’s YouTube channel. It’s military night, and the Battery will line up in special uniforms for the occasion.

A ball is cleared by Pittsburgh’s ‘keeper in the Battery’s last home match. Ross Almers Photography photo