Battery fall in New York despite Portillo magic

Justin Portillo‘s excellent free kick was cancelled out by two second half goals from the New York Red Bulls as they went on to lose by a score of 2-1.

The Battery were much changed from the win in midweek against Bethlehem, with Heviel Cordoves coming in up top, replacing leading goalscorer Romario Williams, while Ricky Garbanzo would slot in for Attaula Guerra. Chris Goslin would make his first professional start in midfield beside Portillo, and Jeffery Otoo would replace Kotaro Higashi. Quinton Griffith would come back in after being rested against Bethlehem, but Skylar Thomas would slide to left back and replace Obi Woodbine. Odisnel Cooper would continue his platooning with Alex Tambakis in goal, while Miles Robinson kept his place ahead of Forrest Lasso despite the latter being back from suspension.

An early shot from Brandon Allen forced Odisnel Cooper into his first save of the evening, though it was an easy save for the ‘keeper, down low to his right from the edge of the box.

A free kick given after Ricky Garbanzo was adjudged to have handled the ball from roughly 25 yards gave Cooper a slightly more difficult task as he was forced to save a curling effort, which would eventually go out for a throw in.

Cooper was forced to claim a cross that curled away from him on 20′, which looked dangerous enough to trouble before the goalkeeper claimed.

David Najem would play the ball into a dangerous area a minute later before Cooper would eventually claim, cutting out the danger before it could be turned in.

The Battery would have their first half chance of the match on 26’, when a Portillo free kick was cleared at first, before being reset and eventually falling to Heviel Cordoves, but his shot went wide.

Cooper was pressed into action again a minute later, as some good buildup fell to Derek Ettienne, but Cooper would come out and claim the ball at his feet.

In the 41st minute, a poor backpass from the Red Bulls defense left Ricky Garbanzo one on on one with the goalkeeper, though the ‘keeper would come out and collide with Garbanzo, giving away the free kick, and, though earning himself a yellow card, could count himself lucky that the referee didn’t adjudge his challenge to be worthy of a red card.

But then, the Battery did find the breakthrough. Dante Marini would use his pace as he powered his way through the middle of the pitch before being taken down. And again, the Red Bulls could count themselves lucky as the replay showed that Marini caught a glancing elbow to the head, which was what actually took him off his feet.

Justin Portillo was then at the controls for the Battery roughly 20 yards from goal. The ball looked as if it may’ve been too close to get it up and over the wall and back down, but Portillo sent a curling effort on goal that gave the ‘keeper no chance, and gave the Battery the lead going into half time.

The goal was just about the last kick of the first half, and the Battery went in with their tails up.

But it was the hosts that came out looking the better side in the second half. An early wave of Red Bulls pressure led to a corner for the home side, though it was eventually cleared.

And on 50′, the Red Bulls could’ve drawn level. A cross in found Derek Ettienne, and while Odisnel Cooper would attempt to smother, he would only redirect it into the path of the onrunning Bezecourt, who put his shot over the bar.

The goal was coming though, and the pressure would finally tell three minutes later. Miles Robinson would deflect a Derek Ettienne shot out for a corner, which was taken by Bezecourt. The outswinging ball found Junior Fleming at the front post, who rose above his marker and headed the ball past Cooper to level the scoring.

Despite getting some decent possession to start the half, the Battery would be kicking themselves that they didn’t come out with a better approach, especially having gone in at half time with the lead.

And a few minutes later, the hosts could’ve had a second. Bezecourt led a counter and the Battery defenders couldn’t get a handle on him, before he would shoot wide, not troubling Cooper in goal.

On 57’, Heviel Cordoves would control a quick throw in and shoot from an odd angle on the left, but the shot was easily saved.

Just before the hour mark, the Battery would make their first change as they looked to regain the lead. Maikel Chang would replace Jeffery Otoo as they looked to add some more creative spark going forward.

And he was instantly involved, with some good footwork on the right wing before finding Miles Robinson who had stayed up from a corner that New York had cleared, but the center back’s shot was deflected before forcing the goalkeeper into a good save from close range.

Heviel Corodves would then hit the post on 63′, but was adjudged to be offside after Justin Portillo found him with a great cross from a free kick, and so if the ball would’ve found the net, it still wouldn’t have mattered.

Romario Williams would enter the game for Cordoves in the 69th. The Battery’s leading scorer would’ve liked to continue his day off given the quick turn around from the game in midweek, but needs must for the Battery if they were to continue their unbeaten run.

But it was the home side who would find the go ahead goal. The Battery could perhaps be aggrieved as Dante Marini would look to win the ball on the edge of the area, but the referee was having no complaints as Derek Ettienne would line the ball up. Cooper would set his wall to the left of him, but would be let down as Ettienne would curl a shot into the near post after his wall didn’t jump.

And so the Battery would find themselves behind, and after going in front, despite feeling slightly hard done by with the refereeing decisions. With just over quarter of an hour to go, they had a mountain to climb.

And with just about ten minutes to go, Attaula Guerra would replace Chris Goslin. This meant that the Battery had all their explosive tools on the pitch, after the three subs brought on their three most attacking threats to go along with Portillo in midfield.

With five minutes to go, Romario Williams would have a great chance to level when he turned his defender and found room to shoot, but his effort was straight at the keeper.

The Red Bulls could’ve sealed it shortly after, when the Battery were caught with too many men up field to attack a free kick and the hosts hit them on the counter, with Bezecourt forcing Cooper into a magnificent save to redirect it behind before it was cleared.

The Battery had the ball in the net in stoppage time as a free kick was swung in at the back post and turned in after the ‘keeper would go up for the ball and not claim, but a foul was given and the goal was waved off.

And that’s how game would finish. The Battery would remain on top of the East after Tampa Bay drew on Saturday, though they would slip at the chance to go five points clear.

They next play on Wednesday in the US Open Cup, away against the Jacksonville Armada. Kickoff is at 7:00.








Williams the difference in battle with Bethlehem

Romario Williams’ eighth goal of the season gave the Charleston Battery  three points in a Thursday brunchtime clash with the Bethlehem Steel.

Whilst the game took a while to get going, Williams’ effort from roughly 25 yards midway through the first half sent the Steel ‘keeper sprawling and kissed the inside of the near post on its way in. The visitors had a multitude of chances to add to the scoring in both halves following the goal, but it was a stout defense that could be given credit for a tough display on the way to a big three points for the Black and Yellow.

There were changes to the Battery side who drew 2-2 with Harrisburg the previous weekend, as they were in the middle of a three-game road stretch, and set for two games in four days. Miles Robinson, on loan from Atlanta United, would deputize for the suspended Forrest Lasso after he picked up his 5th yellow of the season against the Islanders, while Naveal Hackshaw would slot in for Tah Brian Anunga, who received his marching orders during the draw himself. Natural center back Skylar Thomas would slide to right back, replacing Quinton Griffith.

After feeling each other out in the early goings, the Battery could very well have had a penalty in the 10th minute, as Obi Woodbine latched onto a great cross-field ball and nutmegged his marker before being taken down in the box by an on-rushing second defender. Nothing was given though, and so the ball rolled out for a goal kick.

Steel striker Cory Burke would go on a mazy run into the box just a few minutes later, but Thomas would come across on the cover to clear.

Alex Tambakis would be forced into an his first save on 14′ from a tame effort from Burke, getting behind the effort to his right and crouching down on the ball to relieve the pressure and allow his side to reset.

After 28′ came the next big chance, a flick on from an inswinging corner left Skylar Thomas with the opportunity to open the scoring, but the Steel ‘keeper was able to palm the effort onto the bar to keep the scores level.

Bethlehem had a corner just past the half hour mark which was played short and crossed into the hands of Tambakis.

It wasn’t too long after that the Battery were in front. Romario Williams would control a pass in midfield before running across his defender and using his pace and strength just to earn half a yard of space before taking aim at goal and beating the ‘keeper as the ball went in off the inside of the near post. The strike took him level with former Battery player Dane Kelly on 8 goals for the season and gave the Battery the 1-0 lead.

Just a few minutes before half time, it could’ve been two. Maikel Chang lofted a ball toward the back post to a wide open Kotaro Higashi, whose volleyed effort somehow went wide.

And then Williams could’ve had himself a second just before the break, but his effort went wide.

On the whole, the Battery deserved to be in front at half time, though it remained to be seen if the missed chances would come back to haunt them.

And it seemed, for all intents and purposes as if they had acknowledged that fact, after seeing missed chances come back to haunt them in their previous game, as they came out flying for the second half.

A flick on header by Chang fell to the feet of the goalscorer Williams, who squared up to his defender and got himself goal-side, before taking aim at goal again. He seemed destined for the brace, but McGuire in the Bethlehem goal would deny him as the ball went out for a corner. The set piece was taken by Justin Portillo into a dangerous area, but cleared, only for Maikel Chang to pick up the pieces and get a cross off to the far post and for Attaula Guerra to sting the palms of the ‘keeper again, though the ball would eventually be cleared.

A Bethlehem corner a couple minutes later would be cleared, and the Battery looked to be set for a dangerous counter, only for the move to break down.

Bethlehem forward Seku Conneh would then snap a header  wide after a great cross from the left. The header left Tambakis in goal flat footed, and so the ‘keeper could breathe a sigh of relief that the effort wasn’t on frame.

On the hour mark, a Justin Portillo-led counter eventually fell to Maikel Chang, who had his effort saved only for the ball to spill right back into danger again, with Kotaro Higashi running in, but his effort was scuffed as it seemed that he slipped just slightly as he tried to turn his foot to point the ball on frame.

A minute later, a Justin Portillo corner was kept alive by a little bit of head tennis before falling to Attaula Guerra, who stuck the ball in the net from close range, but was adjudged to be offside. Video Replay was apparently in effect, as the referee would call play dead following the whistle to listen in to his earpiece, but the decision would stand, and the Steel would have a free kick.

A Bethlehem corner would cause a bit of trouble in the box in the 71st, but would only pop out on the edge of the box before being blasted over the bar.

Dante Marini would replace Kotaro Higashi a short while later. The first year winger played well despite missing his chances, applying ample pressure and being an out ball for the central players, but will undoubtedly be disappointed that he didn’t help his side double their lead.

Obi Woodbine would be asked to run onto a dangerous looking chance on 74′, as the full back with the famed cannon of a right foot would just try and guide a ball into the top corner, but the effort would go high and wide.

Heviel Cordoves would replace the goalscorer Williams on 76′. Romario played well, putting his side ahead and putting in a good shift, though had run out of steam in the minutes leading up to the change.

And Cordoves’ first real touches produced a chance for the visitors. He controlled a long ball on the right flank before cutting in and shooting, forcing the goalkeeper into yet another save.

The home side were baying for a penalty in the 84th, when Skylar Thomas would muscle the Steel forward out of the way in order to shield the ball out. The referee was having none of the appeal though, and pointed for a goal kick.

Cordoves was then in again on 84′, but foiled once more as he would muscle his way around his marker and in for a 1-on-1, but his guided finish toward the far post was saved. The ensuing corner would be dummied and fall to the debutant Miles Robinson, but his effort would flash wide of the post.

Into 4 minutes of stoppage time we went, and Bethlehem would have perhaps their best chance of the match, cracking the bar from just inside the box, having beaten a sprawling Tambakis, and the ball would eventually be cleared.

And that was how the game finished. The result meant that the Battery go three points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand over second-placed Tampa Bay after they lost against Rochester on Tuesday.

The Battery next play on Sunday at 2PM against New York Red Bulls II. The match will be televised on MyTV Charleston, and available for streaming on the club’s website, or YouTube.






Lasso header the difference as Battery beat St. Louis

Forrest Lasso‘s header from a Justin Portillo free kick midway through the second half was what gave the Charleston Battery the three point Saturday night, earning a hard-fought win over St. Louis FC.

The goal came after the Battery could’ve had a few by half time even came, if not for a mixture of good defending and a bit of luck on the side of the visitors, but the Portillo-Lasso connection, one that’s paid dividends on more than a few occasions this campaign, would come through again for the Black and Yellow, keeping them top in the Eastern Conference.

Afternoon rain gave way to Evening sunshine, and the Battery would make three changes to the team that beat Bethlehem last week. Tah Brian Anunga and Kotaro Higashi coming back into the side, whilst Romario Williams returned from illness, and Dante Marini would keep his place, but would switch wings to cover for Maikel Chang, who picked up a slight hip injury in the game last week and was listed on the bench.

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The home side were on the attack as early as the second minute, with the striker Williams playing through for Higashi who would overlap, and while he took his first touch in stride, his second left a defender with an opportunity to get back. and the chance would go begging.

Dante Marini and Obi Woodbine would soon combine to begin a counter that would fall to Williams on the left in a dangerous position, but his cross into the box would be too flat and was cleared away.

Marini would be involved again on 13′, playing a great ball in for Romario Williams that he took down expertly, but a slight bobble would mean that he would have to take his shot almost on the half volley, and he got no power on the effort, though forced the goalkeeper into his first save of the evening.

Three minutes later, it would be Guerra and Williams combining  after the midfielder would send a great ball into his teammate, though it was similar to the Higashi chance in that Williams’ first touch would be great, but his second would force him wide, and though one on one with the ‘keeper, the angle was tough to get a decent shot off, and his effort would go into the side netting.

With just under half an hour gone, Higashi was troubling the defense again, getting to the byline before playing the ball low back across looking for the onrushing assistance of his teammates, though the cross would be deflected behind for a corner, and then cleared away from the set piece.

But the danger would come down the right a short time later, this time through the full back, Woodbine, who sent a dangerous ball in across the face of goal, taking a bounce before the oncoming Williams would track it down on the left and lay the ball off for the inward run of Dante Marini, who would run directly toward goal and sting the palms of the goalkeeper, who was forced into a save before the ball was cleared.

Romario Williams would then take a through ball wide on 39′, cutting in and having a pop at goal, which went behind for a corner. The out-swinger from the left looked menacing, with the ball bouncing around and causing havoc in the area, but it was eventually cleared by the defenders.

Three minutes before half time, the Battery would force another corner, and this time someone was able to steer it on target, only for the ball, which looked destined for the bottom corner, to be cleared off the line by a defender covering the far post.

So, given the chances, the home side could’ve found themselves up at the break, especially with the chance that was cleared off the line, but the teams would go in level at the break.

The visitors would come out in the second half with their tails up, however, earning a free kick within the first five minutes, but the Battery defense would remain stout, and would smuggle the ball clear.

A St. Louis cross on 53’ was eerily similar to the Woodbine cross for the Black and Yellow earlier on, but no one would be there to connect and the chance would break down.

A Quinton Griffith cross just before the hour mark would be cleared away, only to fall to Dante Marini, who would lay off for Obi Woodbine. Woodbine’s shot is known to be particularly lethal if he can keep it on target, but the ‘keeper was able to get himself behind the effort to produce a save.

And then, on 62’, came the breakthrough. Woodbine was again involved, going on a pacey run down the flank before cutting in and forcing the defender into a challenge, which the referee adjudged to have been a foul about 35-40 yards from goal.

Up stepped Justin Portillo to the controls, and with the center backs, Lasso and Mueller creeping their way into the box, you would put good money on them making a nuisance of themselves if the chance provided itself.

And so it did. The ball had just enough height on it to trouble the defense, but pin the ‘keeper to his line, and Lasso got his head to the ball, which went into the ground and past the goalkeeper and defender on the line and up into the top corner to give the Battery the lead. The goal was Lasso’s fourth this season, and the assist was Portillo’s fifth, with that combination paying dividends not for the first time this campaign.

And four minutes later, the Battery could’ve had another. A great cross from Romario Williams found the onrushing Woodbine, but he was forced to take the shot on the volley, and the effort went wide.

A St. Louis free kick on 68’ would see Tah Brian Anunga find his way into the book, but the chance wouldn’t trouble Odisnel Cooper in goal.

On 74′, Dante Marini would be replaced by Maikel Chang. Marini put in a very impressive shift, putting himself about and creating and getting on the end of a couple chances, earning himself a well-deserved rest.

Six minutes from time came the best chance for the Black and Yellow to double the lead. The substitute Chang would find Justin Portillo, who had a shot saved and smuggled clear for a corner that looked like it found Anunga, who connected on the volley which cracked the bar and fell back out into the path of Romario Williams, who before he could turn, looked to have been fouled. The referee was unmoved and decided against pointing to the spot, but the chance wasn’t gone and fell to Maikel Chang, whose curling effort looked destined to trouble the ‘keeper before just creeping over the bar.

Quinton Griffith would have to be replaced due to injury by Skylar Thomas shortly after, as the full back would go down under a challenge and seemed to have a muscle issue.

Attaula Guerra would then be brought off for Ricky Garbanzo shortly before four minutes of stoppage time were signaled by the fourth official. Full time came shortly after, giving the Battery all three points.

The result means the Battery remain top of the Eastern conference, but they go into a difficult four game away run, including their first foray into this year’s edition of the US Open Cup against the Atlanta Silverbacks, their next match, which is on Wednesday, May 18. Kick off is at 3:30.


Guerra’s first half strike pushes Battery past Steel

The Charleston Battery remain top in the East after prevailing over the Bethlehem Steel by a score of 1-0.

The goal came courtesy of Attaula Guerra, who bundled home at the back post after a flick on from a Quinton Griffith cross. Both sides had chances to add to the scoring, but the Battery were able to hold on, and after Tampa Bay dropped points against Ottawa earlier, they now sit two points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference.

The Battery made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Ottawa, with Dante Marini and Naveal Hackshaw both coming back in after Kotaro Higashi and Tah Brian Anunga had previously had a run of games each. There was also an enforced change in the way of top scorer Romario Williams, who missed the match through illness and would have to be replaced by Heviel Cordoves.

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Cordoves would create a half chance for himself in the tenth minute, as he would surge his way into the box after receiving the ball wide. The striker would make his way into the box with defenders on him, only to get the ball stuck between his feet. He would still find space and time to power a shot toward goal, but it would be deflected by a defender, who by that stage was able to get in front of the effort and reset himself. The ball would then ricochet off the legs of the defender and toward Attaula Guerra, but his effort would then be blocked before the Steel would scramble clear.

Just past the quarter of an hour mark, the visitors were threatening after getting a free kick just about 20 yards out. The referee blew his whistle, and the Steel had apparently decided to try one from the training ground, as there were two men over the ball, with one leaving it, becoming a decoy and running over the ball before it was eventually hit wide, and thus would go out for a goal kick on the near side.

And then, on 18′, the Battery would find the breakthrough. Quinton Griffith would make a great run to the byline before finding room to almost lollipop a cross toward Heviel Cordoves at the near post. The ball was just a bit too high for the striker to get much of an effort on it, but he was able to flick it on, which allowed the oncoming Attaula Guerra to bundle it over the line at the back post and put the hosts ahead.

The goal was Guerra’s third of the campaign as he continues to impress in that role just behind the striker, and was showing that even without his usual partner in crime, he could still find a way to give a meaningful contribution to the team.

The Battery earned a corner just after the half hour mark, which fell in the box and was redirected on goal in the melee only to be blocked away, not once, but twice, before being cleared by the visitors.

And then, the next real chance would then fall to the Steel. Midfielder Marcus Epps would hold the ball up before playing a cheeky little one-two, before finding himself in the box and using strength to separate himself from the defenders before curling a shot toward the far post that looked destined to draw the game level before bouncing just wide.

That’s how we went in at the break. The Battery did deserve the lead, but were left wondering if the other missed chances would come back to haunt them.

The halftime festivities were a treat, with Ricky Garbanzo completing a crossbar challenge, meaning that the Battery would give away $1000 to Keeper of The Wild, this week’s nonprofit of the match.

The match lulled slightly at the beginning of the second half, with a 66th minute Bethlehem free kick only finding its way into the gator pond being the only thing of note early on.

Kotaro Higashi would replace Maikel Chang, and nearly find a way to seal the points for the Black and Yellow on 83′, getting past his man with a bit of trickery, but his cutback with the ball right on the end line found no one crashing in, and the ball was cleared.

This eventually led to a corner for the visitors with six minutes to go, which wasn’t too dissimilar to the Battery’s chance at that end in the first half. The ball would fall to a man and find its way toward goal, and Odisnel Cooper would initially struggle to clear before the play was blown up as the ‘keeper had caught a kick to the stomach.

The Battery had one last chance to add to their tally in stoppage time, when Quinton Griffith went on a signature surging run, finding space and having a pop at goal, but the ball would find its way just over the bar.

After the five added minutes were up, the whistle blew, giving the Black and Yellow the three points, and keeping them top of the Eastern Conference.

The Battery next face St. Louis FC at home on May 13. The match is Military night, meaning that the Battery will wear special Digi-camo tops in honor of those who serve. You can watch the match on MyTV Charleston, or stream it on the club’s website.



An Interview with Charleston Fleet GM Sarah Michner

2017 has already been an important year for Soccer in Charleston, not least because of the Charleston Battery‘s 25th anniversary. But now, a new chapter in Charleston soccer history is about to be written.

The Charleston Fleet, Charleston’s new Women’s team, will begin their first season in the WPSL, (US Women’s second tier) on June 3rd. We touched base with Fleet GM Sarah Michner ahead of their inaugural campaign:

BYP: This is your first season as a club, but how long has the Fleet been in the works? How did it come about?

SM: The idea for starting a Women’s Semi-Pro team is something we have talked about for years as we have moved around the country.  But, the idea for the Fleet is something we seriously started looking at about a year and a half ago.  My husband Christian (CofC Women’s Soccer Coach) and I have long backgrounds in soccer, playing & coaching at different levels in the US and both were able to develop and grow through various pro & semi-pro opportunities.  We are both very passionate about the game and the development of youth players.  

How important do you think bringing the Women’s game to Charleston will be to the ever-growing Soccer culture in the City?

Charleston obviously has a long rich soccer history via the Battery, and having a Women’s team that parallels that only makes sense as the Women’s game grows and as Charleston grows!  It’s the number one city, year after year and this only adds to what makes it special.

You’ve announced your affiliation with the Battery. You’ve talked a bit about it already, but how important is it to have them on board given their 25 year history and footprint in the City?

Having the Battery’s support has been huge and it definitely helps validate what we are doing.  The whole Battery organization has been very supportive.  The Battery’s legacy is one we hope to mirror in longevity.  But, we are also anxious to create our own path for the Women’s game here in Charleston.

In your first year, what are your aims on and off the field?

We are excited to get under way on June 3rd. We feel we will have a very competitive roster and hope to come together as a group to display a quality soccer experience for the fans and a place for the players to learn and grow.


There seems to be a lot of hype around the club at the minute and word is that you seem to be on the road to bigger and better things. Is there anything in the works to go into the NWSL?

Well, its nice to hear people are as excited as we are!  Currently, we just want to make this first season the best we can, for the players and the fans.  We are focused on having the Fleet be a part of the Charleston soccer community for years to come.  Personally, I think Charleston would be a great location for an NWSL team in the future.

It seems that the Fleet have big things, and big plans ahead of them. Perhaps the most interesting answer from the interview is how they’re putting an emphasis on promoting youth, as giving College players the option to continue their careers after they graduate could be very important to the game in the long run.

The Fleet begin their season on June 3rd at MUSC Health Stadium against the Carolina Rapids. The game will be part of a doubleheader with the Battery, as their game against Louisville City FC will kick off at 7. You can view the rest of the Fleet’s schedule here. The Fleet are also holding tryouts on May 13th, and you can find more information on that by visiting their website.












Battery announce affiliation with Charleston Fleet

The Charleston Battery have announced an official affiliation with WPSL team the Charleston Fleet for their inaugural season.

The WPSL is the second division of women’s soccer in America, and the Fleet’s first game of their inaugural season will be played at MUSC Health Stadium as part of a double header on the Battery’s “’93 Night” on June 3rd, where a $9.30 ticket will get you into a Champions League Final watch party, the Fleet’s first game against the Carolina Rapids, and the Battery’s clash with Louisville City FC.

The Fleet will then play all of their remaining games at Patriots’ Point, with the end to their regular season coming on July 14.

For more information, visit the Fleet’s website and follow them on Twitter.