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

 

 

 

 

 

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Resilient Battery take three points from Rochester

The Charleston Battery would leave it late, but an 84th minute free kick would be the difference in a hard fought battle with the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday.

There were changes made from last week’s draw against New York, as Quinton Griffith would return from injury, and Miles Robinson would partner Taylor Meuller as the center backs. while Skylar Thomas would slot in on the left for the suspended Obi Woodbine, and the same could be said for Naveal Hackshaw, who would accompany the goalscorer Justin Portillo in midfield, replacing Tah Brian Anunga, after he had accumulated five yellow cards.

A Rochester free kick in the fifth minute looked to be dangerous, but it was cleared away by the defense as the counter looked to be on, though it would eventually break down.

Some good buildup would find Romario Williams shortly after, whose reverse ball looking for Maikel Chang was just a little too strong and the ‘keeper would claim.

On 15′ Rochester would earn a corner, only to be cleared and come back in. The second clearance fell to the feet of Wal Fall at the edge of the box, but the shot was wide of the target.

On 25’, Darius Madison would shoot toward goal for the hosts, but Odisnel Cooper would save to his left as the shot lacked conviction with the striker going away from goal.

Shortly after, Romario Williams would be booked for the fifth time this season, meaning he would be unavailable for the match next week against Richmond.

On the half hour mark, Cooper would be forced into another save, when a cross from Michael Garzi found Jalen Brown, but his mishit shot was handled by the ‘keeper

Six minutes later came the Battery’s best chance of the first half, when Williams would latch onto a ball and play Kotaro Higashi in the middle. He couldn’t control the pass, which gave the defender time to get set and block the eventual shot. Higashi would pick up the rebound and pass back to Williams, but the control before the pass was given as a handball.

Then, on 38′, a long ball forward would beat Taylor Meuller and give Jalen Brown a chance for the home side, only for Cooper in the Battery goal to be equal to the effort.

On the stroke of half-time, Williams had a great chance to put his side in front when he connected with a cross at the front post, which he couldn’t quite redirect on frame as it went wide.

And that meant the teams would go in at the break deadlocked. The game took a little while to get going, but arguably, neither team may have wanted the interval to come, what with both sides creating chances late on in the half.

On the other side of the break, a Skylar Thomas cross would lead to a corner inside the first five minutes, but nothing would come of it.

Just before the hour mark came the next chance for the Battery, as a quickly taken free kick was played out to Maikel Chang and then into the feet of Romario Williams, who toe-poked the ball toward goal and looked for all the world to have broken the deadlock, only to have it cleared off the line.

On 62′ came a mixup in the box as two defenders for the Battery got succed in, and the ensuing shot was deflected behind for a corner, that was then cleared for a throw.

On 67′, the visitors made their first sub. Jarad van Schaik would replace Kotaro Higashi, who had that great chance in the first half that should’ve been buried, and he would hope his side wouldn’t rue the missed chance.

Rochester looked to pick it up at about the 70th minute mark, as they were still in the game after sitting back for large stretches, creating from corners and looking to put Cooper under pressure, but the defense stood firm.

And then, with six minutes left, came a good chance for the Battery at the other end.

A clumsy foul on the left corner of the box had Justin Portillo at the controls, with the big men coming up from the back. Portillo then used the big bodies as a decoy, playing the ball in low along the floor and past the goalkeeper, who was unsighted by the mass of bodies for the opening goal.

It’s not certain whether Portillo meant for the ball to go straight in or meant for it to take a nick off the attacker from a redirection, but they all count, and the Battery had a lead to defend going into the last five minutes.

It was kitchen sink time for the home side, though, and with four minutes of added on time, the Rhinos had time enough if they could find the good areas. Miles Robinson was in the way to plug up a passing lane before a cross could come in on the stroke of 90′, but the goal kick would go straight back to the home side.

And on 91′, Cooper didn’t claim a cross that he came out for, which gave the home side a great chance through Jalen Brown that looked destined to level it again, only for the captain Taylor Meuller to clear off the line.

The Battery then barely had time to catch their breath before Cooper had to make a reflex save to deny Brown from close range, but he wasn’t able to hold the ball, although Graf put the rebound over the bar.

The last chance came by way of corner in the 94th minute, but the Battery defense stood firm to clear.

And shortly after came the final whistle. The Battery won their first game in their last seven since July 1st, and their first win at Rochester since 2012.

Tbe Battery next face the Richmond Kickers on Saturday, August 26 at 7PM. You can watch it on MyTV Charleston or stream it on the club’s website.

 

TOP IMAGE: ODISNEL COOPER, PICTURED HERE IN A PREVIOUS GAME AGAINST THE RHINOS, MADE A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT SAVES ON THE WAY TO A HARD FOUGHT THREE POINTS. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO.

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.

 

 

Battery fall in New York despite Portillo magic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

 

 

Williams the difference in battle with Bethlehem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

TOP IMAGE: HEVIEL CORDOVES HAS A SHOT IN THE PREVIOUS MEETING BETWEEN THE BATTERY AND STEEL AT MUSC HEALTH STADIUM. CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

Why Atlanta United’s SuperDraft picks should matter to the Battery

A new season is upon us, with the Battery set to begin their preseason tournament, the Carolina Challenge Cup, in just under a month.

For MLS sides, the hard work has already begun, with the MLS SuperDraft signaling the spiritual start of the new campaign. Given that the Battery are affiliated with MLS’ Atlanta United, fans should have an eye on ATL UTD’s picks, as they could be seeing them sooner rather than later.

Like with Alex Tambakis, Andrew Carleton, Jeffery Otoo, and a few others from last year, there is a good chance that one or more ATL draft picks could land in Charleston to gain some vital experience.

In the four rounds of the draft, Atlanta United selected a goalkeeper, a defender and two midfielders. Goalkeeper Alex Kapp, out of Creighton, had an 81% save percentage in 18 games in his senior year, and so might be looked upon to be a crucial last line of defense in Atlanta’s first season.

Defender Miles Robinson, who ATL chose with the second overall pick in the Draft, seems like a tall, rangy, athletic sort of defender with an eye for a pass and strength to hold his own in the challenge.

Midfielders Julian Gressel and Anthony Wheeler-Omiunu both show ability in the middle of the park in different roles. Atlanta’s own twitter seems to be highlighting Wheeler’s passing ability, while Gressel seems to be more of an attacking threat, having been the Providence leader in Points during his 2016 season with 15 goals and 6 assists.

The best bet to learn who’s going to be finding themselves in the Holy City would be to look at Atlanta’s roster, at least in a couple of cases. Goalkeepers Alec Kann and the aforementioned Tambakis are the only ones on the books for Atlanta at the minute, so it’s possible that Tata Martino’s staff could send a third choice ‘keeper down for experience and playing time. You may see them rotate for the first couple of weeks to see what works and what doesn’t.

As for Robinson, Greg Garza and Zack Loyd are the ones who stick out at you for center-back, making Robinson a possible third choice and maybe a candidate for playing time in Charleston, but given the fact that Loyd is versatile, and also that Robinson seems to have certain tools that belie his years a little, it’s possible that Loyd may shift to make room for him.

The midfield is a little bit harder to say. Atlanta signed Argentian Hector Villalba as a DP as their first “major signing” and followed that up with Chris McCann. Both of those would most likely hold down spots in the XI for different reasons. Given the fact that there are a few more options in Wheeler’s department, including Jeff Larentowicz, and Miguel Almiron, it’s possible that Wheeler could be headed to Charleston.

Julian Gressel is another possibility, but his numbers may bode well toward his chances in Atlanta. Gressel is seen as a #10 or #8, which fits his style. It’s also worth noting that for the most part, Atlanta’s roster is young, so that’s another thing to put into the equation.

Of course, it’s highly likely that players we saw last year, such as Romario Williams, Tambakis and Otoo could be back this campaign, but it’s still up in the air until official word is given.

So, with a month left until CCC, it’s full steam ahead toward the new season. Stay tuned for more news in the lead up.

FEATURED IMAGE: MILES ROBINSON AND JULIAN GRESSEL POSE FOR PHOTOS AT MLS SUPERDRAFT. SOURCE: ATLANTA UNITED TWITTER/MLS