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.

FEATURED IMAGE: ATTAULA GUERRA (PICTURED LEFT) SCORED THE WINNING GOAL AS THE BATTERY SECURED SECOND PLACE IN THE EAST WITH A WIN OVER CHARLOTTE ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO

 

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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.

TOP IMAGE: HEVIEL CORDOVES (PICTURED) CONTINUED HIS EXCELLENT RUN WITH ANOTHER LATE GOAL TO EARN THE BATTERY A PLAYOFF-CLINCHING POINT IN OTTAWA. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO

Battery pegged back against Orlando despite late equalizer

A late winner from Lewis Neal condemned the Battery to a loss against Orlando City B on Saturday evening despite levelling late through Heviel Cordoves.

The Battery were without Forrest Lasso through suspension, but gained Obi Woodbine and Quinton Griffith back from injury, and Romario Williams returned from his own suspension, meaning he was eligible to partner Attaula Guerra up front.

On the 6th minute, the Battery could’ve put themselves in front early when a corner flashed across the face with nobody able to turn it home.

An OCB corner of their own went away for a throw before being eventually cleared from danger by the Battery back line.

The game lulled a bit in an attacking sense, until on 28, the Battery looked to have pulled in front, when Quinton Griffith’s pinpoint cross found top scorer Romario Williams, who dispatched a header into the bottom corner, only to be called offside.

And then, from just about the next attack, with just over half an hour gone, the deadlock was broken. However, it was the home side that got the opener. Pierre DaSilva found himself in acres of space with no one around him to pressure him, and he decided to take a shot from all of 25 yards that found its way in off the woodwork at the far post.

And so, despite the relative sleepiness from the first half, the Battery found themselves behind. After picking up two wins in their previous two games, they would have to dig deep if they wanted anything out of this one.

But it almost got worse before it could get better. On 38′ A loose ball back from Taylor Mueller meant for Odisnel Cooper in goal was intercepted by Hadji Berry, but Skylar Thomas would come across and clear for a corner, which Orlando couldn’t capitalize on.

But just before halftime, Maikel Chang would lead a counter down the right for the visitors, only for the ball to go safely into the Orlando goalkeeper’s arms before it would go the other way and force Cooper into a save at the other end to force a corner, which the Battery defended well.

And that was how the first half ended. The Battery were behind, and would need to come out with a bit more impetuous in the second 45.

And they answered the challenge, creating no less than three chances in the first five minutes of the second half.

First, on 46′, a near perfect ball from Chang would find Romario Williams with a 1-on-1 with the ‘keeper, only to miscontrol the bouncing ball and be forced into an extra touch, which gave the ‘keeper time to smother the eventual shot.

Two minutes later, Williams would power himself to the byline at the far edge of the box before powering a ball in, but it was too early for the onrushing Nico Rittmeyer, who got his first league start tonight, to turn home.

And then, with 50 minutes gone, a Battery free kick would be played into Romario Williams on the ground, who turned well and again got himself to the byline with a similar ball from the opposite side before it would be cleared away.

Williams would then force the goalkeeper into a kick save shortly after, when his shot from the right looked to go across the goal, the ball went out for a corner, but it was cleared.

An Orlando cross found  Hadji Berry on 54′, and Cooper would save well and turn it away for a corner, which was cleared.

On 58′, the goalscorer for the home side, DaSilva, would curl a free kick around the wall and force a really good save for Cooper, which went out for a corner. The defense would then clear.

With an hour gone, Cooper would collect a free kick and lump the ball forward toward Williams, who would win the second ball and create space for himself, but lose his footing before he could fashion a chance.

Heviel Cordoves would replace Attaula Guerra for the Battery on 63′, and with three goals in two games, Cordoves was brought on to add a bit of a spark while he was riding a bit of a wave of confidence.

With just about 20 minutes left, Tah Brian Anunga would win a challenge high up the field and the ball would roll into the path of Maikel Chang, whose effort toward the top left corner was saved by the goalkeeper.

Kotaro Higashi would replace Nico Rittmeyer shortly after, another coming on to add a bit more attacking ability after putting in a good shift in Wednesday’s game against Charlotte.

On 75′, a Battery corner was wafted in at the back post for Skylar Thomas, and his header looked destined for the net before seemingly being palmed over the bar, though the referee would give a goal kick.

But with ten minutes left, the Battery would make their pressure tell. the build up down the right came from Maikel Chang, who would pass to Quinton Griffith. The right back would play the ball into the box low and hard, which fell to the substitute Cordoves, who controlled and let the ball spin off his foot on the turn to create space before firing into the back of the net.

The goal was deserved with the pressure the visitors had put their opponents under, but they would have to stay composed if they were to keep things all square.

But on 83′ came a scare for the Battery, when a good ball forward found Micheal Cox, who went at Mueller in defense and got around him before shooting toward the far post, but would see his effort go just wide.

But on 86′, the Battery would fail to clear a Orlando corner, which was bouncing around in the box, and forced on goal from an attacker, and Odisnel Cooper would spill the ball into the back of the net.

It was unlucky for the visitors, who forced themselves back into the game with so little time left, and also unlucky for Cooper especially, who had made a number of saves to keep his team in it at 1-0, but it was an error nonetheless, and this time with much less time to produce an opportunity to find a way back again

And that was how the game ended. The Battery dropping points despite a spirited performance.

The Battery next travel to Ottawa on October 1st. Kickoff is scheduled for 1PM, and you can watch it on MyTV Charleston, or stream it on the club’s website.

TOP IMAGE: HEVIEL CORDOVES (PICTURED) WOULD SCORE HIS FOURTH IN THREE GAMES IN A LOSS IN ORLANDO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY.

 

Cordoves flick lifts Battery over Richmond

In the Charleston Battery’s first home game in over a month, Heviel Cordoves‘ third goal of the year was what separated the Black and Yellow and the Richmond Kickers.

It was a frustrating night for the home side, who were wearing Orange in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, as Romario Williams was sent off midway through the first half for a kick out at a Richmond defender after creating no less than three chances for his team early on, and so the game became a battle of who would budge first. It wasn’t until second half substitute Cordoves’ 84th minute goal from a Maikel Chang corner that the deadlock was broken, and the defense stood resolute through five minutes of added on time to get a crucial three points in the hunt for a playoff spot.

 

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Both full backs Obi Woodbine and Quinton Griffith were unavailable through injury for the home side, and so Jarad van Schaik and Skylar Thomas would step in respectively in front of Alec Kann in goal, but besides that it was a pretty straightforward lineup. Midfield staples Justin Portillo and Maikel Chang took their places in the side, with the aforementioned Williams and Attaula Guerra up front.

And the Battery would threaten as early as the first minute. An excellent scoop pass from Guerra from deep found Romario Williams in stride, but the ball, always bouncing. couldn’t be properly brought under control, and the power in the eventual shot was lacking and went out for a corner that led to nothing.

A Battery free kick in the seventh minute would be taken from the left in a dangerous area, which was poised for Portillo to have a crack, but his curling effort went straight into the wall.

A couple minutes later, Kotaro Higashi would undercut an errant pass just inside the attacking half, step forward and slip a nice weighted ball outside to Guerra, who had to dig the ball out from behind him just slightly, which meant the shot toward goal would lack power and gave the ‘keeper time to get a tip on it before it was cleared as it was rolling toward an empty net by a Richmond defender.

In the 10th minute, a give and go between strike partners Williams and Guerra left Williams 1-on-1 as he beat a defender for pace, but again, the touch was heavy and the goalkeeper would claim.

And with a quarter of an hour gone, Romario Williams would shoot from distance and have the effort tipped onto the bar only to fall toward Kotaro Higashi, who couldn’t collect himself to get a proper shot off.

Another give and go, this time from the right, on 17′,  led to another shot from distance and another which rattled the ball, and this time Higashi would be ready, heading toward goal, but too close to the goalkeeper.

With 19′ minutes gone, a corner for the Battery was cleared, only for it to fall to Higashi, who would blast it over the bar.

Jarad van Schaik would do some excellent work on the left on 23′, retaining the ball through the challenge of three defenders before Maikel Chang’s shot as the ball popped out to him would go high and wide.

A Richmond free kick had looked to put the Black and Yellow under a bit of bother on 27’, when a wafting ball was forcibly cleared at the back post. The corner, though, would be cleared.

On the half hour mark, Romario Williams would get away from a marker and into open space before looking for Attaula Guerra in front, but there was too much on the pass.

In the 35th, Forrest Lasso would be booked for a seemingly innocuous challenge while trying to win a header in midfield.

And two minutes later, things got worse. Romario Williams would show a little bit of nastiness with a needless kick out at a defender, for which he received his marching orders with a red card.

The red meant that the Battery would play the rest of the match with 10 men, and that the center forward would also miss the crucial match on Wednesday against Charlotte.

On 43′, a Battery free kick would be played into the box for Forrest Lasso, but his header lacked power and was collected by the goalkeeper.

In stoppage time, Alec Kann would be replaced by Odisnel Cooper. The ‘keeper, who was with the Battery during the 2012 run to their fourth league title, was on a temporary loan from Atlanta United, the Battery’s MLS affiliate, and was rehabbing a strained quad injury that’s kept him out for upwards of two months, having gotten hurt just before Atlanta’s game on July 4th. Regardless of the situation, burning a sub on your goalkeeper is not the best course of action, and the Battery would have some serious regrouping to do at half time.

In the 49th, a Battery free kick was cleared as both teams seemed to want to huff and puff, but neither seemed willing to budge just yet.

A corner for Richmond with an hour gone was cleared away before Odisnel Cooper was forced into a save as the ball was reset, and the danger was gone.

Seven minutes later, Richmond were on the counter, which looked dangerous only to lead to a shot over the bar.

With 20 minutes to go, Heviel Cordoves would replace Attaula Guerra, who, without his strike partner in Williams, was becoming increasingly isolated, and with such an important game in midweek, it’s best to have your best players fresh in a sticky situation. He’d clearly gotten more and more tired as the game had gone on, and when you’re isolated as he was, you’re largely ineffective. The Battery would be hoping that at the very least, Cordoves’ ability to hold the ball up under a challenge would lead to some decent chances.

With seven minutes left, a ball across by Richmond was headed away and hoofed clear, and the bounce of the ball led to a 50/50 challenge, which Cordoves won by forcing his man to play the ball out for a corner.

The set piece would be played in by Maikel Chang toward Cordoves at the front post, who flicked it on and past the stranded ‘keeper to put the home side in front.

So now, the Battery had a lead to hold onto. And for the visitors, they had to come out and attack. The deadlock was broken, and the Battery would have to keep composed to get themselves over the line.

And with throwing the kitchen sink, the Kickers nearly found an equalizer with three minutes gone of the allotted five of injury time. A cross from the left had the defense flat footed, but a header toward goal couldn’t be forced on target and the ball went over the bar.

And so, the Battery picked up a vital three points in what could be the start of a very important week coming toward the end of the season.

The Battery next face an extremely tough test against second placed Charlotte Independence, in a match that was rearranged due to Hurricane Irma on Wednesday, September 20. Kick off is at 7PM, and you can watch it on MyTV Charleston or stream it on the club’s website.

TOP IMAGE: DESPITE BEING BEATEN, RICHMOND’S GOALKEEPER KEPT HIS TEAM IN THE MATCH AND WAS A PART OF THIS GOALMOUTH SCRAMBLE EARLY ON. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battery fall short in Louisville

The Charleston Battery struggled throughout on Saturday night, losing to Louisville City FC by a score of 1-0.

It was a relatively quiet affair for both sides, but Louisville were the ones to take initiative, when Guy Abend’s goal in the 79th minute would eventually seal the points for the home side, and continue the Battery’s Kentucky woes.

Alex Tambakis was in goal, while there was changes in the backline again. With Skylar Thomas, Taylor Mueller, Miles Robinson and Jarad van Schaik as the back four. Kotaro Higashi and Maikel Chang were on opposite flanks, Naveal Hackshaw and Justin Portillo were in the midfield, with Attaula Guerra in behind Heviel Cordoves up front.

Louisville started the game the brightest, and earned a corner early on, only for it to be cleared away from danger by the Battery defense.

The home side would come straight back at them though,  as  after five minutes, Brian Ownby found space on the right of the box and forced Alex Tambakis into his first save of the evening at his near post.

On 11′, Attaula Guerra would intercept a wayward pass in midfield and slide the ball through for Maikel Chang, whose shot was destined for the top corner before Ranjitsingh in the Louisville goal would save well to his left.

Juat after a quarter of an hour, it was Heviel Cordoves who would beat a man and have a shot from the left from distance, but the ‘keeper was behind it all the way for an easy save.

At the other end, on 26′, it was Tambakis would had to save from distance and palm the ball out for a corner that also seemed destined to cause trouble for the Battery goal, but the cross was headed over.

On 35’, Justin Portillo would receive the ball in midfield, and in the absence of any defenders challenging him for the ball, as well as spotting the ‘keeper off his line, Portillo would attempt a rather audacious shot from about 40 yards out that had the goalkeeper worried, but it would end up going just wide.

A quick restart saw the home side attack at the other end, and Tambakis was forced into a save down low at the conclusion of some quick passing.

And that was how the first half ended. Neither team were very much on their game, as even the simplest of passes were going awry on either side of the ball. Largely down to the fact that part of the field was made of turf to cover up a baseball diamond that is also used in the stadium, and the rest being grass. The two surfaces were obviously difficult for both teams to adjust to, but they would have to soldier on.

A shot from distance from Oscar Jimenez was wide three minutes after the start of the second half, as both teams looked to come out in much better shape than how they ended the first.

On 53’, some good build up play looked to create a chance for the home side, only for Brian Ownby’s attempt at a cutting pass to be intercepted by Miles Robinson.

And four minutes later came an all-important save from Alex Tambakis, as Noel McCabe found himself free on the right for a shot, only to be thwarted by the sprawling ‘keeper at the near post.

The corner that followed was wasted, and similar to the home side’s chance in the first half, it was the Battery’s turn to break quickly as the ball would find Attaula Guerra, who would find Maikel Chang with an around-the-corner pass and leave him with a good opportunity to open the scoring only for the shot to be over the bar.

On 64′, the Battery would have some trouble clearing a ball away, and Louisville would nearly take advantage as a header found its way over the bar.

On 69’, Forrest Lasso would replace Cordoves, and though not known as a striker, he would be asked to use his frame to cause problems for defenders.

He would be involved in the action quickly enough, as on 74′, he would go down twice under challenges in the box, though the referee wasn’t persuaded to point to the spot, and the game continued.

And then, on 79′, came the hammer blow for the Battery, as they had trouble clearing the ball before it fell to the top of the box to the feet of Guy Abend, who controlled and shot into the bottom corner.

The goal surprised a few, as it looked as though the ball had initially gone out of play, but the Battery were indeed down with not long left.

And despite having most of the possession in the late knockings, the score would remain the same. The Battery would fall to the late goal, further slipping behind at the top of the table and continuing their winless streak in Louisville.

The next match is Saturday, September 9th, as the Battery welcome Southern Derby rivals Charlotte Independence as we return home. Kick off is at 7PM. You can stream the match on the club’s website, or watch on MyTV Charleston.

FEATURED: TWO PLAYERS FIGHT FOR A BALL IN A PREVIOUS MEETING BETWEEN THE TWO TEAMS. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO

 

 

 

 

 

Battery pegged back through late goal against NYRB

The Charleston Battery conceded a late goal that denied them three points on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls II.

Romario Williams’ return to action also saw his regular strike partner Attaula Guerra in the starting XI. While Tah Brian Anunga  would slide into a more defensive position to cover for the injured Quinton Griffith, meaning Naveal Hackshaw would make the start beside Justin Portillo. 

A great run from Obi Woodbine earned his side a corner in as early as the second minute, though it wouldn’t beat the first man and was cleared away from danger by the travelling defense.

New York’s first look at goal looked to be coming in the 13th minute, when an attacker found himself with a slight window to shoot at Odisnel Cooper’s goal, but Woodbine would come across and shut down the man, and the shot went wide.

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On 20′, an unfortunate bounce from a Forrest Lasso challenge spelled trouble again for the home side, bouncing into the box with a man bearing down on goal, but Cooper was there to make himself big and claim at the striker’s feet.

Three minutes later, it was the Battery who were knocking at the door. A long throw had looked to be dealt with before Maikel Chang latched onto the second ball at the top of the box, flicked the ball past a marker and had a pop at goal. It looked to be destined to cause trouble for the goalkeeper at least, before a defender swung his boot at the ball to clear for a corner, though it was wasted.

Cooper was in trouble again on the half hour mark. A through ball would allow for a shot that went just wide of the far post.

Then, five minutes before half time, the Battery were given a free kick on the left edge of the box roughly 20 yards out. Justin Portillo would be the one to take, wafting the ball in toward the center back, Lasso. He’d get up above his man and whip a snap header toward goal, but couldn’t put in on target and it went over the bar.

Obi Woodbine was then booked for a bit of follow through after losing the ball late on in the first half, and would have to watch himself as the game went on.

But then, finally, the breakthrough. An inch perfect ball from Portillo found Attaula Guerra going through on goal, having stayed onside. Guerra then gave the ‘keeper a bit of the eyes before lifting his head up and seeing an onside Romario Williams at the far post, who controlled and slotted the ball home to put his side in front with his 15th goal this season.

That, in essence, is the composure the Battery have lacked in both player’s absence. Guerra being the creative force behind a team that for a long time led the league in goals scored before the recent barren run, and in Williams, a forward with a nose for goal to put them in, showing just how, with one on the field, they’re in good shape, but with both, they’re a force to be reckoned with.

And that’s how the first half ended. The Battery up 1-0, but they were in need of a second to put distance between themselves and a visiting side who were, at the very least, plucky, giving you no sense they were out of the game whatsoever.

On 48’ the Red Bulls ‘keeper would punch a corner clear, only for Maikel Chang to pick up the second ball and fire at goal. A mix up in communication would lead to a sliced clearance behind for a corner, though the ball looked to be going straight to the ‘keeper. The Battery couldn’t capitalize on their stroke of luck though, as the set piece was cleared.

Guerra was then unlucky not to latch onto a through ball that would’ve left him 1 on 1 with the ‘keeper, the pass this time just being a little over hit

With an hour gone, it was nearly disaster for the home side. A short pass was well under hit by Obi Woodbine, which put the defense under pressure as it went straight to a visiting attacker. The defense would scramble, but it would be Forrest Lasso to clear behind for a corner, which was dealt with well and cleared away.

Four minutes later, a corner was given to the Red Bulls, and, though cleared away, a second ball produced what could’ve been a difficult cross had it not been over hit and out for a goal kick.

On 68′, the Red Bulls took another corner, this time played short, and then into the box on the ground, which created a bit of space for the attacker to have a shot that didn’t trouble Odisnel Cooper.

But on 72′, a bit of luck fell the visitors’ way, when a blocked shot fell to the feet of Stefano Benomo, who shot on the half volley across the goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper and gave him no chance as it nestled into the side netting.

You couldn’t really blame the ‘keeper, as a fortunate bounce off a leg created the chance in the first place, but the Battery had had chances to put the game beyond their opponents, and didn’t take them, which allowed the Red Bulls back into the game as it went on.

The Red Bulls forced a corner two minutes later, but nothing would be made of it.

Five minutes from time, the Battery would earn a free kick, and the big bodies would go forward, including Heviel Cordoves, who replaced Kotaro Higashi as the whistle blew for the set piece. However, it would be dealt with by the defense, and time was running out.

On 87′, Obi Woodbine went in for a challenge, and appeared to have gotten the ball, though the referee was coming from behind the play and adjudged the player to have taken the man, and issued Woodbine a second yellow, which meant the Battery would have to play the remaining three minutes, plus stoppage time, down a man.

The ensuing free kick would lead to naught, but eventually recycled and Justin Portillo was called for a handball from a blocked shot, giving the visitors a free kick just outside the box. It would go straight into the wall and back out as a quick pass found Romario Williams ready to lead a break, but the Red Bulls dispossessed him by way of a kick as it broke down. Williams would then have to receive treatment, but was okay to continue.

Deep into stoppage time, the Red Bulls would have the last chance. Both teams were hoofing the ball up the pitch in hopes of a knock down and shot, but it was the visitors who were the ones to threaten. A long ball across to the left was headed down, and the ensuing shot looked to have beaten Cooper, but thankfully for the Black and Yellow, went wide of the far post.

In the end, it may have been a fair result. There was much huffing and puffing from both teams, but not much in the way of creativity barring the Battery’s goal. The Red Bulls were a bit lucky with the bounce of the ball that led to the equalizer, but as the Battery have benefitted from similar situations before, the visitors kept themselves in the game, and it just shows that anything can happen if you do so.

The Battery play their first of three games away from home against Rochester Rhinos on Saturday August 19, with kick off scheduled for 6:05. You can watch on MyTV Charleston or stream at the club’s website.

ROMARIO WILLIAMS, AIDED BY GREAT PASSES FROM BOTH ATTAULLA GUERRA & JUSTIN PORTILLO IN THE BUILDUP, SCORED HIS 15TH GOAL OF THE YEAR. All photos credit Ross Almers Photography

 

 

 

Battery frustrated in scoreless draw with Orlando

The Charleston Battery hoped a return home for the first match in three games would provide an upturn in fortunes after a demoralizing winless away trip, but they ended Saturday’s match with Orlando City B possibly even more agitated than before, as the match ended 0-0.

There were again changes to the XI, with Odisnel Cooper reclaiming his place in goal, while Forrest Lasso returned at center back beside Taylor Mueller, and the same could be said for Quinton Griffith at left back. Jarad van Schaik made his first start since re-signing with the Black and Yellow, while Naveal Hackshaw was pulled back into midfield beside Justin Portillo in his more natural position after playing behind the striker against Pittsburgh. Kotaro Higashi played underneath Heviel Cordoves. Fans wanting to see striker Romario Williams after having returned from Gold Cup duty would have to wait a bit longer, as he started the game on the bench, likely in an effort to ease him back into the swing of things and make sure the legs didn’t get too tight after so many games in quick succession in Jamaica’s run to the Final. The bench would also include the likes of Attaula Guerra, Tah Brian Anunga, Ricky Garbanzo and Lagos Kunga, so there was no shortage of attacking options for the home side.

The Battery started off the brighter of the two sides, forcing a corner in the opening ten minutes, for it only to be cleared away without beating the first man. The shot back in from the edge of the box fell to Heviel Cordoves, who calmly stuck it in the net, but was adjudged to be offside.

Odisnel Cooper was forced into his first save of the evening from a Danny Deakin effort from the left edge of the box. Cooper struggled to hang onto the ball, but would smother before his attempted save could cause a rebound.

Forrest Lasso got himself into a spot of bother when he hacked at a sliding clearance away that only ricocheted into the path of another Orlando player and would eventually lead to a shot from Hadji Berry that Cooper would have to be quick off his line to smother. A rebound would find the feet of Scott Thomsen, but his effort would go high over the bar.

The Battery would begin to create more as the half wore on, and earned a corner on 42′, but it would only be cleared before a foul was given to alleviate pressure.

A minute later came the biggest chance of the game yet. A long ball over the top gave Cordoves the chance to run onto it, and he would outmuscle a man to go one-on-one with the on-rushing goalkeeper. He would then attempt to chip as the ‘keeper made himself big, but couldn’t get the ball over his outstretched arm and the chance was gone.

And that was the end of the first half. The Battery were finding spaces to create and getting half chances, but were sloppy in the final third, and would have to put that right to force anything from the game.

On 52′, the Battery would again threaten. A free kick was played into the back post, but was cleared away before finding the feet of Maikel Chang, who again played into the back stick, this time finding Forrest Lasso, who couldn’t direct his header on target.

After the chance came the arrival of Romario Williams, having had his ease back into the side cut short by the lack of clear cut opportunities in front of goal. The home side were hoping that the return of their top goalscorer could spark some life into an attack that had been skiddish to say the least since his departure for the Gold Cup.

But Orlando would have other ideas. A bouncing ball across the 12 yard box found Austin Martz, a full back who had ventured up the touchline, and but for the fact that he couldn’t keep his shot down, the home side would’ve been behind 1-0.

A Battery corner on the hour mark spelled danger but only to be cleared first time as players visibly began to get frustrated. There were more fouls going in as the game went on, and the game began to get bogged down in midfield and became a bit stop-start because of all this. Not the best scenario for a team that was in serious need to relax, but in the current run of form, they would understandably find that hard to come by.

Lagos Kunga would come on to make his home debut after 62 minutes, replacing Jarad van Schaik. For just being back, van Schaik looked sharp. His passing ability on display as he would do his best to link up play, but Kunga was on to add a bit of speed and directness to the attack, which the Battery needed if they were going to get over the line.

He had one or two decent touches before he had a look at goal when, on 71′,  Romario Williams would square up to his man on the wing before slotting a ball across. The ball would take a deflection off an opponent’s leg before Kunga would receive it roughly 12 yards out. The winger took a little bit too much time on it though, and it would be hacked only as far as Maikel Chang, though he couldn’t quite get the ball under his spell either, and the chance was gone.

Orlando had a chance at the other end with just over 10 minutes to go when a corner refused to be fully cleared and pinballed its way around the box, only to end up on top of the net for a goal kick.

Orlando would again threaten from a corner in the 80th minute, but it would be cleared before any trouble was caused.

On 83’, came the last real chance to score. Chang squared up with his defender on the right before trying to curl one into the far corner that was only blocked. The ball would fall to him farther in however, but his rebounded shot would also be blocked and behind for a corner.

The set piece would actually find the head of an attacker and looked destined for the net, but it was cleared off the line.

In the end, it finished 0-0. It was somewhat agonizing for the Battery, who were offside no less than eight times in the match despite showing a little bit of creativity from Chang and Portillo, except that they lacked again the cutting edge that would find them the winner.

The Battery next face Toronto FC II on Saturday, August 5th at 4:30 PM. You can watch it on MyTV Charleston or online at the club’s Website

PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY