Battery lose to New York to crash out of playoffs

The Charleston Battery’s 2017 season came to a demoralizing end with a 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls II

The Battery came up against last year;s champions after securing the second seed in the playoffs having won last week against the Charlotte Independence, but on the whole seemed shocked all through the night and paid the price.

The Battery started fast, with an eighth minute cross in by Obi Woodbine fell to Romario Williams, but his shot was blocked and cleared away.

A great ball over the top by Kotaro Higashi fell to Attaula Guerra in stride, but as the ‘keeper came out to claim, Guerra’s attempt at a chip would go just wide.

But it wasn’t long after that New York would wake up. A ball short from a free kick went into the box and was headed just wide.

On the half hour mark, it was Justin Portillo who created a chance from a Higashi short pass at the top of the box, but his shot from distance went wide.

The Red Bulls had a corner cleared on 34′ as they contunued to threaten.

And then, on 39′, Junior Flemings possessed a short throw in and cross in well to Stefano Bonomo, who stretched out for the diving header and finished far post to go in front.

The Battery were behind after starting well, and it was a punch to the gut, especially so close to half time.

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A corner late on in first half stoppage time threatened again for the Red Bulls, but a free kick was given by the referee just before the half time whistle blew.

However, the Red Bulls would come out the better team in the second half, and would execute another body blow to the home side just five minutes after the break.

A corner from the right by Arun Basuljevic was dummied and fell to the feet of Ethan Kutler who expertly picked out the top corner past a helpless Odisnel Cooper.

Shortly after, Tah Brian Anunga was replaced by Heviel Cordoves, as there was no hiding from the fact that the Battery needed a push yo front to get any sort of result out of the game.

The Battery had a free kick on 63′, and the big bodies found their way into the box in what was a chance to get themselves back into the game. However, a looping cross was headed down and straight to the ‘keeper and the ball was cleared.

On 67’ came probably the Battery’s best chance of the second half, when Attaula Guerra’s low cross from the right was flicked on inadvertantly on goal by a defender, but the ‘keeper would claim.

Two minutes later, Romario Williams would do well to get past two defenders, but would put the ball high over the bar as he went for the chip over the on rushing ‘keeper.

And on 71’, it would only get worse. Odisnel Cooper originally made a good save to deny a goal on the counter for the visitors, but could only parry into the path of Florian Valot, who made it 3-0. Valot had had a decent night, and was at the heart of everything good for the Red Bulls, and probably deserved his goal.

An 84th minute goal from substitute Austin Mines would make it four as the Battery would end their season on a very low note.

The Battery return for the 2018 season as they host the Carolina Challenge Cup in February, and we look forward to the new year with renewed vigor in hopes that we can look back on this loss as the start of a learning curve into bigger and better things.



Battery book #2 seed with win over Charlotte

The Charleston Battery will return to MUSC Health Stadium next Saturday after locking up the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a win against the Charlotte Independence to close out the regular season.

Attaula Guerra’s strike toward the end of the first half opened the scoring, and the visitors would have to dig deep to keep their rivals at bay despite the home side having the better of possession in various spells throughout the game.

It was Charlotte who came out the blocks the strongest, themselves looking to lock up a home tie in the playoffs, both teams coming in at 3rd and 4th respectively.

Charlotte would create a quick 1-2 on the edge of the box in the second minute, only for a shot inside the box to be blocked by the Battery defense and away.

A Charlotte free kick in the ninth minute was headed away and dealt with well by the defense.

And then, Enzo Martinez made an angled run into the box after another good bit of build up, and would’ve been clean through, but the flag would go up for offside

A 1-2 on the other side on 18′ by Quinton Griffith and Maikel Chang ended up looking for Guerra at the top of the box, but he was given offside.

A deep cross on the right for Charlotte looked for Enzo Martinez at the back post shortly after, but his looping header drifted wide.

On 24′, A dangerous cross from the right was cleared for a Battery corner, which eventually came to nothing.

Charlotte would have a corner of their own three minutes later, but the Battery defense would clear away.

On 31′ Attaula Guerra went looking for Heviel Cordoves, but he was adjudged to be offside before a chance could be created.

On 32′, Forrest Lasso would misplay a cross from the right which fell invitingly for a Charlotte attacker before a shot was blocked down by Taylor Mueller. Players for the home side were appealing for a handball, but the referee was unmoved by the protests.

Then, on 36′, came the breakthrough. Justin Portillo would find Heviel Cordoves, who used great one touch passing to link up with Maikel Chang. He then would find Kotaro Higashi before the midfielder, recently awarded newcomer of the year, would find Attaulla Guerra in stride, who would loop the ball over the onrushing Cody Mizell in the Charlotte goal and in off the post to give the Battery the lead.

This, however, would mean that the home side would pile on even more pressure, which nearly told a minute later.

A cross from the right found Jorge Herrera, whose shot full on the volley was saved point blank by Odisnel Cooper. The ball would wriggle out for a corner, though it was cleared away.

Cooper was again forced into action on 41′, when a free kick was given away on the edge of the box, and Herrera was again denied , this time from long range.

And so the Battery went in at half time 1-0 up after having been very clinical with their chances. They soaked up pressure in that first half, and had a few chances on the counter, but it was only that Guerra chance that made the defense worried, and they scored from it.

A ball was played inside on the edge of the box on the other side of the break, before Forrest Lasso would use his body to shield an attacker off the ball and out of play. The attacker then took offense to contact off the ball from the center back and there was a little bit of handbags as the two players settled their differences, but the referee did well to de-escalate the situation.

A Charlotte free kick on the left ten minutes into the second half looked to have looped over everyone, and if not for Odisnel Cooper applying some more acrobatics to palm the ball onto the crossbar, the score very easily could’ve been level. The ball would clatter off the woodwork and somehow stay in play before a Charlotte attacker would be given offside.

On 56′, Quinton Griffith would intercept a pass and run at the home side’s defense before picking up his head and trying to play Chang in the middle. Chang would miscontrol just slightly as the ball was behind him, but it would eventually pop out to Guerra, who would try to curl a shot wide.

On the hour mark, a counter for the hosts led to a ball flat across the 18 yard box to substitute Caleb Calvert, whose shot was saved by Cooper

Three minutes later, another good bit of 1-2 play from Charlotte beat the defense all ends up and left Enzo Martinez in on goal for a tidy finish, but it would be given as offside.

On 65′ came the arrival of Romario Williams, with an eye on running at tired defensive legs with his pace and perhaps realizing that the hosts had begun to turn the screw a little bit more since coming out in the second half.

On 72, Taylor Mueller was booked after giving away a foul in a dangerous area for the Battery, but the set piece would be blocked away.

Forrest Lasso nearly paid for the mistake of clearing the ball right into the path of Lewis Hilton on 77′, but his shot went wide of the target.

On 81′, the Battery would force a corner that would only be punched away by the ‘keeper. The second ball would eventually lead to another corner, which was cleared at the top of the box before a shot was taken by Chang and seemed to catch a defender on the arm, but the referee wasn’t impressed and played on. A foul by Justin Portillo on the edge of the Charlotte box prevented a counter, but also meant that Portillo found himself in the referee’s notebook.

All hands were to the pump for Charlotte as we got closer to full time, and a shot with four minutes to go was blocked by Forrest Lasso for a corner, which led to naught.

Lewis Hilton almost struck a blow to Battery hearts when, on the 89’, Odisnel Cooper was again forced into a great save from close range off a header, and the ensuing corner was cleared.

Four minutes stoppage time was added as the Battery continued to look to hold on, but wouldn’t make it easy for themselves, giving away a rather needless free kick with two minutes to go, though Charlotte were kept at bay.

And with that, the final whistle would eventually blow. The win meant that the Battery would lock up the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and earn the right to play a home match on Saturday, October 21st. With the win, the Battery are 2017 winners of the Southern Derby Cup, and have completed a sweep of Charlotte in this season’s three matches.

At time of writing, the opponent is still To Be Determined, but kick off is scheduled for 7PM. You can watch it on MyTV Charleston, or on the club’s website.



Full list of 2017 Battery season award winners

At full time after Saturday’s final home game of 2017, the Battery announced the winners of this season’s team awards, as voted on by the fans, after what has been a very exciting 25th anniversary campaign.

Betsy McAdams Newcomer of the Year: Kotaro Higashi

Higashi joined the Battery after a successful trial in the Spring, which was capped off by a clutch goal against the Seattle Sounders in the Carolina Challenge Cup. He began the season as a backup to Dante Marini, primarily being used on the left side and coming in late to use his pace against tired legs. That changed a couple months into the season, when Marini sustained a season ending injury. Higashi would go on to get better and better as the season progressed, notching eight assists in his 28 appearances, which is second in the team behind Maikel Chang‘s 10.

Derek Revord Defensive Player of the Year: Forrest Lasso

Coming into 2017, Forrest Lasso had some big shoes to fill in departing captain Shawn Ferguson, but he has done so with flying colors. The 24 year old, in his third season with the Battery, created a formidable partnership with Taylor Mueller that meant no matter if Odisnel Cooper or Alex Tambakis, who split time during the season, were in goal, the Battery didn’t often look like conceding. Winning an astonishing 77% of his tackles, and 70% of his aerial duels, at 6’5″, he was a nightmare for onrushing attackers. He would put his height to good use at the other end of the pitch too, scoring six goals, which is tied for third with Justin Portillo for the team lead.

David Vaughn Memorial Award: Taylor Mueller

Taylor Mueller picked up this award, chosen by the Coaches, after having a solid season, and, as Captain in his 4th year, leading the team to the playoffs. His own stats are spectacular themselves, beside Lasso winning 68% of his duels, and 73% of duels in the air, he was very much a calming influence on the team, keeping level headed and making sure the team stuck together.

Offensive Player of the Year: Romario Williams

Williams’ 15 goals in 21 appearances is good for currently second in the league in scoring, and leads the team in that category. After a difficult 2016, he struck up an exciting partnership with Attaula Guerra, after the latter moved further forward from his deep-lying position the year previous, combining for 20 of the Battery’s 52 goals. Williams also rode his good form into a callup for Jamaica’s 2017 Gold Cup campaign, in which he was one of their standout performers on the way to the final. Additional call-ups and suspensions have derailed his second half of the season, but the Battery hope to have him fit and firing again as they head into the playoffs.

Nigel Cooper Most Valuable Player: Justin Portillo

Justin Portillo underlined just how important he is for the Battery with another impressive campaign in 2017. Notching six goals and six assists, he led the team in chances created, with 60 in 31 appearances. His 86% pass accuracy was the best on the team, and he’s credited with 60 key passes on the season. Despite being most known for his skills in setting up attacks with his pinpoint passing, he helped out defensively quite a bit too, with 52 interceptions, only behind Taylor Mueller for the team lead, and 76% of tackles won. The arrival of Tah Brian Anunga allowed him to be a more forward thinking player this season, but as the stats show, he’s very much the complete midfielder.

As the regular season closes this Saturday against the Charlotte Independence, we look forward to more from these players, and all of the squad as we head into the playoffs, but congratulate them on an impressive regular season campaign.


Battery thrash Harrisburg in final home game of regular season

The Charleston Battery’s front four were firing on all cylinders Saturday night as the Black and Yellow beat the Harrisburg City Islanders by a score of 4-0.

Heviel Cordoves continued his hot streak with a brace, as Attaula Guerra sandwiched a goal in between from his strike partner. Maikel Chang put in what was arguably his best performance of the season, notching three assists, with Kotaro Higashi on tap for the other, and to top it off, Quinton Griffith would score his first goal in his five years at the club in the last minute of normal time to give the Battery an important win as they look to lock up a Home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite the final score, it was the home side that conceded the first chance, when Odisnel Cooper had to smother quickly and carefully to cut out a 1-on-1 with a Harrisburg forward in only the second minute.

From the distribution that followed, a flick on in midfield found Attaula Guerra, who went looking for Heviel Cordoves with another quick pass, but he was given offside.

A Harrisburg corner on nine minutes only led to a Battery counter through Tah Brian Anunga, who ran at the defense with deceptive speed, but got the ball stuck under his feet and the attack would break down.

A great takedown from Cordoves on 12′ would find Justin Portillo in the middle on the edge of the box, who would try a touch pass inside for Attaula Guerra, but would put the ball just out of reach.

But then, the home side would finally take the lead the early pressure deserved three minutes later, when Maikel Chang’s impressive through ball to Cordoves left him 1-on-1 with the ‘keeper, and he would keep composed to take it around him and fire the Battery in front.


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And so, knowing that the game was a must win in order to earn a home draw for the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the pressure would ease just a little bit as Cordoves continued his great late-season run.

The next five minutes could’ve seen the Battery score just as many goals, as just two minutes after his opener, Cordoves could’ve had his second. A great cross from the right by Chang found the striker, and he was able to toe-poke the ball on frame and past the goalkeeper, only to be given offside by the linesman at the far side of the pitch.

Not more than a minute later, Kotaro Higashi would stand up his man on the far side and wiggle enough room at the byline to get a ball across, before a shot went wide as the Harrisburg defense tried their best to get as many men at the near post as they could.

Next, The Battery had a corner on the far side that was swung in, and Cordoves would rise highest, only for his header to clang off the bar. The onrushing Higashi was too close to get to a rebound, and the chance was gone.

A ball in from Higashi on 23′, once again using a bit of fancy footwork to get past a defender before passing off to Cordoves, but the striker would get the ball stuck under his feet and the chance was cleared.

But just before the half hour mark, the Battery would indeed have another, when Higashi played Guerra after some sublime one touch football in and around the edge of the box, and Guerra shot between the diving defender’s legs toward the far corner to add to the lead.

Only a minute later, Maikel Chang would find himself free on the right of the box and send a curling effort just wide of the far post.

But three minutes later, Skylar Thomas, in for the suspended Forrest Lasso, would misclear a ball off his toe and out for a corner, but did well to atone for his mistake and was involved in ultimately clearing from danger from the set piece.

Three minutes later, Guerra and Chang would combine to create another chance, but this was again sent wide as the Battery were still searching for more.

And on the stroke of half time, Cordoves found himself in space with room to run at the Harrisburg defense. He had Attaula Guerra in space, but played the ball slightly behind him, which slowed the run of play. Nevertheless, Guerra would slide the ball to his left and force a save from the ‘keeper, and the rebound would be forced out for a corner, which came to nothing.

So, in what was the Battery’s final home game of the season, they seemed determined to send the fans home happy, with two goals to their name and feet still firmly on the gas pedal.

On the other side of the break, it was Cordoves again who would threaten, before he shot just wide, though the flag would eventually go up for offside.

On 58, the Battery would find a third after a great give and go between Maikel Chang and Heviel Cordoves, Cordoves using pace and power to get past a man before playing off to Chang and continuing the run inside, and then slotting past the ‘keeper at the far post on the return. The goal was important as it did again relax the team more and more, and will hopefully only give the team confidence going into what will still be an all important final week of the season.

Kotaro Higashi was then replaced by Nico Rittmeyer on 67′, and while the winger opposite him in Chang did more on the stat sheet, Higashi still put in an impressive display, getting himself an assist and continuing what’s been a debut season that’s gotten better and better for him as it’s progressed.

Heviel Cordoves would make way with just over 15 minutes to go, and received a well-deserved standing ovation from the Battery faithful after a brace as he was replaced by Patrick Okonkwo.

Tah Brian Anunga then was replaced by Jeffrey Otoo with ten minutes left, after having picked up a knock that had him limping. Despite not getting on the score sheet, Tah covered almost every blade of grass and was excellent in the air, while allowing Justin Portillo more license to get forward and create while he sat back and was the typical defensive midfielder. He would also receive a rapturous applause leaving the pitch, a player of his type and caliber being something that Battery have needed for quite some time.

A Battery free kick inside the last ten minutes wasn’t cleared, bounced around and eventually found itself in the net, but the offside flag would again go up.

With three minutes left, Odisnel Cooper made a flying save to his left to deny a stinging drive on the counter after a run up the right.

And on 89′ came the sweetener. Quinton Griffith would receive the ball on the right before running up the touchline and playing Maikel Chang, who initiated another give and go as the right back would continue the run and slot home at the near post for the Battery’s fourth.

The crowd would go mental as Griffith celebrated what was his first goal for the club in his five years in Charleston, and his team mates surrounded him to commemorate the occasion.

And that was how the game finished. The Battery would close out their regular season home schedule with an important win against the Harrisburg City Islanders.

With a win and a Rochester loss to Pittsburgh, the Battery could’ve secured a home draw in the playoffs this evening, but the second half of that scenario didn’t come to fruition after Rochester picked up full points against the Riverhounds.

However, as it stands, with Louisville beating Charlotte and San Antonio and Tampa Bay sharing the points, it means that a draw would be enough to see the Black and Yellow gain an all important home game in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, but it is important to note that a scenario without the Battery in the top four positions to end the season is still in play.

With the win, the Battery were crowned inaugural Old Guard Shield winners, a separate league tournament, not unlike earlier runnings of the Southern Derby Cup set up between fans of the oldest members of USL, which came down to the final day.

The Battery conclude their regular season away to the Charlotte Independence on Saturday October 14th. Kick off is at 7:00PM, and you can watch the game on MyTV Charleston, or stream it on the club’s website.



Atlanta, Columbus, Minnesota set for CCC ’18

The Charleston Battery will welcome Atlanta United, Columbus Crew and Minnesota United in the 14th edition of the Carolina Challenge Cup in February of 2018.

The competition, which has consistently brought some of MLS’ top talent to Charleston over the years, will be held from February 17th-24th, with double-headers over three matchdays in a round robin tournament.

Atlanta return after last year in which they played their first competitive games in the tournament and gave fans in the lowcountry an early look at what has become one of the best sides to watch in the league in 2017, behind performances from Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Tito Villalba among others.

The Crew, a year after winning the competition in 2017,  are regular visitors to the area through the competition. They were MLS Cup finalists in 2015, and consistently challenge among the top teams in the East. Now under the guidance of Manager Gregg Berhalter, they boast a mixture of young talent and league stalwarts such as Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Kekuta Manneh.

Minnesota will be visiting the lowcountry for the first time, but boast a few names that should be familiar to fans of the Black and Yellow. Adrian Heath is at the helm in Minnesota’s first season, having previously spent time with Orlando City SC in both USL and MLS, and brought attacking midfielder Kevin Molino with him from his time in Florida.

In addition to hosting the tournament, the Battery and their new Youth Academy will also host the Youth Carolina Challenge Cup, with more information here.

2018 season ticket packages will include tickets for all three matchdays of the CCC, with single day tickets going on sale on October 20th, with prices starting at $35.

Cordoves volley earns Battery playoff berth against Ottawa

Heviel Cordoves’ sixth goal in as many games meant the Charleston Battery gained the point they needed to secure a playoff spot in a 1-1 draw with the Ottawa Fury.

The Battery struggled for long periods of the game, having conceded early, and especially after losing Forrest Lasso midway through the second half for a second bookable offence, but Cordoves’ equalizer five minutes from time would rescue a decent result from an otherwise frustrating day at the office for the Black and Yellow.

Much of the first quarter of an hour didn’t have much in the way of chances, but a ball in low to Fury striker Steevan Dos Santos on 16′ wasn’t dealt with by Taylor Mueller, and a second chance at the shot gave the forward time to slot past Odisnel Cooper in goal.

And so, having fallen asleep after the back and forth of the early goings, the Battery needed to get themselves back up again and try to find the equalizer.

An attack started by Justin Portillo on 20′ looked to do just that. The Battery’s midfield maestro would play out to the wing to Kotaro Higashi, before Attaula Guerra‘s ball through on the top of the box was too strong for Romario Williams.

Just a minute later, the winger Higashi would get a backheel from Williams and play a fizzing ball across that forced the ‘keeper to come out and punch, though his effort wasn’t quite as strong as he’dve hoped, but there were no players in the white of the Battery to follow in and get a shot off on the rebound.

There weren’t too many chances after until on the stroke of half-time, when Maikel Chang whipped in a corner low and found Naveal Hackshaw on the front post, who flicked the ball on before it clattered off the inside of the near post in a sequence not unlike the one that Heviel Cordoves scored against Richmond.

A give and go on the other side of the break in the 49th fell to Quinton Griffith, but he would blaze a shot over the bar.

At the other end, however, Steevan Dos Santos would play a 1-2 of his own at the top of the box, only for his effort to go wide of the target also.

And on 59′, Forrest Lasso would be given his marching orders after his second yellow, making the task at hand, ultimately getting at least a point, all the more hard for the visitors.

Skylar Thomas would come on for Naveal Hackshaw just past the hour mark, which was a change to make up for the central defender lost in Lasso.

The Battery would make a second sub, this time of the attacking sort, with 15 minutes to go, when Maikel Chang would be replaced by Heviel Cordoves, who was hoping to make a similar impact to his few previous performances, finally finding his footing at such a crucial time in the season.

After 77′, An Ottawa corner would quickly break down, which led to a lung-busting run from Quinton Griffith down the middle, who would play wide the substitute Cordoves. He would play a dangerous ball into the box, but there was no one there to get on the end of it.

The Battery then had a pair of free kicks inside the last ten minutes in which to pump the ball into the box to look for the equalizer, but both were given offside and were wasted.

And then, finally, with five minutes of normal time to go, Romario Williams would pick his head up and find Heviel Cordoves in space and place the ball ahead of him with the outside of his foot, and the striker took the ball down with a great first touch before beating his man on the edge of the six yard box with an elaborate flick and hitting the ball full on the volley with his weaker right foot to beat the ‘keeper and draw the Battery level.

With five minutes left, the Battery knew that the point they would gain if they held on would secure them a spot in the Playoffs, but they would have to stay composed, knowing that they let a similar result slip just a week ago against Orlando.

In the three minutes of added on time, Odisnel Cooper would be forced to make some very important interceptions on crosses, but none would be altogether too troubling, and the Battery would end up indeed holding on for that all-important point.

And so, with two games to spare, the Battery qualified for the USL playoffs. They next play Harrisburg on Saturday, October 7th, as they look to hang on to one of the top four spots, which would ensure them at least one home game in the playoffs. Kick off is scheduled for 7PM, and you can watch on MyTV Charleston or on the club’s website.