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

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Subs shine as Battery earn late point against Riverhounds

Maikel Chang‘s 83rd minute equalizer meant the Charleston Battery took a point from the final game of a three-match road trip Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

The visitors would open the scoring when Miles Robinson climbed highest to meet a Justin Portillo corner early on, but Victor Souto would respond with a back post volley on 20′. Corey Hertzog would expertly bend one into the top corner from an improbable angle midway through the second half, before Chang would set up a give-and-go with Attaula Guerra, eventually slotting home with seven minutes left.

Miles Robinson would come into the side after replacing Forrest Lasso near the end of the loss in Tampa, while Skylar Thomas would slot in at right back. Quinton Griffith and Maikel Chang were on the flanks, while Portillo and Tah Brian Anunga were in the middle. Up top was the pairing of Naveal Hackshaw and Ricky Garbanzo, one that seemed a little odd, but showed effectiveness at times throughout the night. Last week’s standout Lagos Kunga was on the bench, as was Jarad van Schaik and Attaula Guerra, having both overcome injuries to feature in the 18. Heviel Cordoves and Kotaro Higashi rounded out the substitutes, meaning there was no shortage of viable options as has sometimes been the case this year.

Acclimatizing to the turf proved a bit tricky in the early goings, when Romeo Parkes would beat his marker Robinson to the ball and volley toward goal with an unorthodox over the head effort that went narrowly wide in the 6th minute.

A couple minutes later, it was Hertzog who would create a chance as he clattered the bar after holding his run up and staying onside, leaving the defenders confused, but the Battery would survive.

And not too long after, they found themselves in front. Another expert cross from a corner by Justin Portillo connected with Miles Robinson, who rose highest to power a header into the back of the net.

The goal perhaps came against the run of play, but having scored their first goal in three games after going scoreless in losses to St. Louis & Tampa, they weren’t too bothered. The assist for Portillo was his sixth of the year, breaking a tie for the team lead with Maikel Chang on five.

But unfortunately, the lead wouldn’t last. The game got a bit bogged down in midfield until Pittsburgh would force a corner of their own in the 21st. The set-piece got a little flick on before finding Victor Souto at the back post unmarked to volley home.

The defense were asking questions of each other, but would have to take joint responsibility for poor marking. In the end, no matter the confusion, someone has to mark the man, and leaving someone open at the back post was something that would frustrate coach Mike Anheuser to no end.

The Battery could’ve been back in front a few minutes later however, when a Portillo free kick again found Robinson drifting at the back post, but this time he was coming down by the time he latched onto the ball, and the shot lacked power.

The ball would ping itself into a dangerous area for the home side just past the half hour mark, which would eventually fall to a Riverhounds attacker, but his shot on the turn from just outside the box would be right at Tambakis.

Maikel Chang led a counter on 33′ where he could’ve taken a shot himself, but instead sprayed wide to Quinton Griffith, who laid off for the onrushing Justin Portillo. His effort toward the bottom corner was saved, as it seemed as if the Battery’s recent struggles to find the perfect pass were settling back in.

They would keep applying pressure though, as, soon after, Ricky Garbanzo won the ball high up the pitch in a tackle before laying off to Naveal Hackshaw, who perhaps had a little more time, but dragged his shot wide.

On 41′ Tambakis would do well to claim a dangerous ball in the middle of the box before a Riverhounds attacker could pounce, as the end of the first half went started to go back and forth.

A couple minutes later came a chance at the other end as Quinton Griffith sent a bouncing through ball to the feet of Ricky Garbanzo, who sent it just inches over the bar.

And that’s how the first half ended. It was an entertaining first half, and there was much to play for. The Battery could be happy that they’d ended their mini goal drought, but there was still work to do.

The second half started as the first one ended, the home side creating little half chances, Washington sending the ball dangerously across the face, but no one would claim. While at the other end for the visitors, Taylor Mueller would snap a stooping header toward goal, only for it to narrowly go wide of the far post.

Corey Hertzog forced a handball on 56′, but the ensuing free kick would be cleared out of danger.

However, Hertzog wasn’t to be kept quiet. A throw in on 61′ wasn’t dealt with defensively, and the striker took advantage of the ‘keeper expecting a cross to fake him out and bend one into the far corner and in.

Whilst the defending was slack in trying to close the man down, no one would’ve expected a shot like that, partially because it requires a ball to be so well struck to attempt it. But nevertheless, the Battery were behind, and had again to pick themselves up.

The boss’s response to this was to throw on the big guns. He made a double switch not too long after, bringing on Attaula Guerra and Heviel Cordoves.

Guerra would quickly make his mark on proceedings, linking up play quicker and getting into better spaces on and off the ball, which is something the Battery had missed since he’s been out with a recurring thigh problem.

On 76’ came a great chance, when Guerra would turn his man and play an incisive ball in toward Cordoves, who couldn’t stretch out enough to make contact to equalize.

Three minutes later, Guerra would again create, getting a flick on from a Battery Free kick, which was saved.

Chang would receive the ball and take a shot from the left shortly after, but it wouldn’t trouble the ‘keeper and went wide.

Kotaro Higashi would be the Battery’s final sub, replacing Tah Brian Anunga with 10 minutes left. The thought being that perhaps Guerra would go further forward to partner Cordoves, while Higashi would go wide, and Chang more central to become a little more creative. It made sense given the Battery’s predicament, and it was surely all hands on deck for the visitors.

Tambakis was forced into an important save from distance on 82, but conceded a corner that was eventually cleared.

And it was possibly made more important by what would happen next. Maikel Chang and Attaula Guerra would play a 1-2 at the top of the box, which resulted in Chang going free of his marker and smashing it in far post for the equalizer.

A breath of relief seemed to sweep through the side as two of the main attacking influences would combine, but the work wasn’t done just yet.

Chang had a shot blocked and forced clear with roughly three minutes to go, as the Battery looked for a winner now at the death.

But the home side would force a corner, which was taken short and played in only for Tambakis to collect with two minutes of normal time to go.

Three minutes of stoppage time were signaled by the referee, and Pittsburgh would earn another free kick in the 91st, but the set piece was again collected by Tambakis.

Shortly after, the final whistle blew. The Battery can be pleased with the result, having stopped a two-game losing streak, and playing much better than they had in the two previous games, with more possession and more creativity.

The Battery next return home Saturday, July 29 to play Orlando City B. Kickoff is at 7PM, and you can watch the match on MyTV Charleston or stream it at the club’s website.

TOP IMAGE: MAIKEL CHANG’S 83rd MINUTE EQUALIZER GAVE THE BATTERY A POINT IN PITTSBURGH TONIGHT. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO

Battery guilty of overplaying in Tampa loss

The Charleston Battery fell to the Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday, having lost back-to-back games for the first time this season after goals from Joe Cole and Martin Paterson.

There were a number of changes from the loss against St. Louis, as Alex Tambakis was between the sticks. Quinton Griffith replaced Skylar Thomas at left back, while Tah Brian Anunga made his return in midfield and there was a debut for Lagos Kunga after completing his move from Atlanta United.

The Battery started the game well. The quick tempo and passing that was near nonexistent in St. Louis on display for much of the early first half. Maikel Chang would create the first half chance with a nifty little pass into Heviel Cordoves, but the striker wasn’t able to catch his run and was given offside despite putting a shot on goal.

In the eighth minute, Joe Cole had the ball on the left edge of the box after good buildup from the home side, but would slip and be unable to force a ball across, only managing a toe poke that was blocked into the legs of an attacking on the opposite side and giving Alex Tambakis no trouble.

Lagos Kunga impressed in his debut, especially in the first half, and he would cause trouble on 12′, bending a shot just wide of the left post.

Tampa would go up the pitch and earn a corner just a minute later, but Tambakis would come to claim and avert danger.

Some good buildup in the 16th led to a shot from Heviel Cordoves, which produced a great save from Pickens in goal, before it would be reset for Maikel Chang who would shoot wide of goal.

Tambakis would come to punch a cross a couple minutes later, but not get enough on the ball, which would fall to Marcel Schafer, who would see a shot deflected out for a corner, though it would lead to naught.

The Battery would then have a free kick on 22′ that would break down and give Tampa the chance to counter, but it broke down.

Shortly after, a ball across the face for Tampa would look to spell danger, but no one latched on before it was picked up on the far side and sent back to Schafer, whose effort went wide.

The Battery would have a dangerous free kick on 24′, which was cleared before being sent back in and cleared again. It would then roll out on the right to Quinton Griffith who took his eye off the ball whilst trying to pick a cross and let the ball roll out of play.

Tah Brian Anunga would form a nice 1-2 with Obi Woodbine before finding Cordoves in the box, but his shot was blocked and cleared away from trouble.

After the half an hour mark, Tampa began to turn the screw as Joe Cole would latch onto a ball that the Battery defense couldn’t force clear, but his shot would go over the bar.

Marcel Schafer would again cause trouble on 32′, after his cross was flicked on by a teammate and forced Tambakis into a good save to keep the scores level.

But the ‘keeper would perhaps make his best save of the night, denying the home side from just six yards out after a cross low into the box was volleyed toward goal. Tambakis’ reactions had to be razor sharp, and he was up to the task, palming the ball wide before it was cleared.

A Battery corner on 38′ would be cleared for another, but eventually wasted as Perkins would claim in the Tampa goal.

And then, after 41′, came the breakthrough. It came after a long ball wasn’t dealt with by the Battery defense, and Alex Morell would turn his man before laying off to Joe Cole, who gave the ‘keeper no chance to open the scoring.

The goal came at the worst possible time for the Battery, being so close to the break, but having been guilty of letting the heads drop after conceding in their last game, they couldn’t be caught doing the same here. They would have to find a way to force their way back in, and came out in the second half again looking dangerous.

The Battery earned a corner in the 46th, only for it to be cleared away, whilst good buildup on the edge of the box a few minutes later fell to Obi Woodbine, only for his shot to be skewed wide.

On 56’, more good play from the Battery resulted in a layoff by Kunga into the path of Portillo, but his shot lacked power and the ‘keeper would save.

A Battery corner in the 58th would only lead to a goal kick as the game became increasingly frustrating for the Battery.

On 64’, Lagos Kunga would be replaced by Ricky Garbanzo. Kunga could be pleased with his debut outing, and looked lively, especially in the first half. He, along with Chang and Anunga, were at the center of everything good for the visitors, which is something that bodes well going forward as the team looks to find a piece to fill the void left by Dante Marini. He could be aggrieved slightly at being taken off having been so influential, but with one eye on a midweek match in Pittsburgh, you can gather what the boss’s thought process would be.

Alex Morrel would again cause danger on 67′, when he latched onto a cross, but put his shot onto the bar as the home side were nearly 2-0 up.

There was more injury trouble for the Battery on 69′, as Forrest Lasso would have to be replaced by Miles Robinson after clearing a ball and sustaining a knock a few minutes prior.

But the defender was forced straight into action, with just less than 20 minutes to go, he got himself turned around on the edge of the box by Martin Paterson, who would then finish top corner to double the hosts’ lead.

And so the Battery were given so much to do in so little time. But unlike the previous match against St. Louis, it wasn’t for the lack of creativity. It was the failure to stay collected when it counted. They were trying to find that one extra pass, and in the end lacked that lethal bit of edge they needed in front of goal.

Nico Rittmeyer would be brought on for a short cameo in the 84th, replacing Tah Brian Anunga. Anunga scored the winner in the first meeting between these two sides, and put in a decent shift tonight as well, but wasn’t quite as effective as he’d want to be.

The visitors had a few chances to get back into the game in the closing minutes. Justin Portillo would step up to a free kick from roughly 20 yards out which went wide with four minutes left, and then Cordoves would latch onto a corner in the 88th, which he would head wide.

And that was how it finished. The Battery would fall to their second loss in two, with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds the final stop on their three game road stretch on Wednesday, July 26 at 7PM. You can watch it on MyTV Charleston or stream it on the club’s website.

TOP IMAGE: DEFENDER FORREST LASSO FIGHTS HIS MAN OFF THE BALL IN A PREVIOUS MEETING BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES. PHOTO CREDIT ZACH BLAND.

 

 

Williams, Marini headline midweek Battery news

After a 6-1 demolition of Toronto FC II, the Battery have kept rolling into this week, with two players earning league honors, and striker Romario Williams being selected for Jamaica’s upcoming Gold Cup campaign, and to top it all off, they unveiled a new signing.

After being included in the initial 40-man roster for Jamaica’s 2017 Gold Cup run, Romario Williams will go to the tournament after being named as part of the 23-man squad.

Williams is currently the USL’s leading goalscorer, after scoring twice against TFC II, taking him to 13 for the season. He should be available for the Battery’s game against Tampa Bay this weekend, with the Raggae Boys getting their Gold Cup under way against Curacao on July 9th.

Dante Marini has been awarded the USL Fan’s Choice Goal of the Week for his spectacular curling effort on Saturday. Marini and Williams both notched a brace and an assist each, while Williams earned Team of the Week honors. Dante, a fan favorite since joining in 2013, was also featured in a segment on local news after his first two goals of the campaign.

Last but not least, the Battery announced the signing of Lagos Kunga on a one year deal. Kunga has been a part of MLS affiliate Atlanta United’s youth setup, scoring 10 goals in 21 games for the Atlanta U18s and recently took part in the US’s FIFA U-20 World Cup campaign en route to the Quarter Final. He spent time with the Battery last year, taking part in the team’s friendly with the Nigerian Olympic team. Kunga was loaned back to Atlanta for a short 4-day span, featuring in the team’s 3-2 loss to Miami FC in the US Open Cup, but will soon meet up with his new teammates.

The Battery’s game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies kicks off at 7PM this Saturday, July 1st.

PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY