Battery defense: Is help on the way?

Battery defense: Is help on the way?
Mike Anhaeuser chats with Quinton Griffith Tuesday.

Mike Anhaeuser chats with Quinton Griffith Tuesday.

It may be Thursday before the Charleston Battery learn whether the second of its two healthy center backs will be available for Saturday’s date with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. But reinforcements may be on the way.

“We’ve got one or two players that we’ve got our eye on,” Battery Coach Mike Anhaeuser said Tuesday. “One is a defender. So if we can get him in the next two days, it would be fantastic. And it could happen, but it’s obviously waiting on paperwork.”

There are a few names in the rumor mill, including some familiar ones, but we’re going to wait until the club can confirm a deal instead of dropping them here.

Jackson Farmer

Jackson Farmer

But there’s one name that Battery fans can erase from their list of possibilities: Teenage Canadian defender Jackson Farmer. The young backup from Vancouver was the sixth defender on the roster at the start the season, and essentially took up the slot that likely would have gone to Wilmington Hammerheads rookie Drew Ruggles. Vancouver recalled Farmer on May 1, and held on to him too long to allow him to return to Charleston.

“The window closed on Monday of last week, so we unfortunately cannot get any players,” Anhaeuser said. “This is the hard part about it.”

Shawn Ferguson

Shawn Ferguson

Losing Farmer put the team in a bad spot. The subsequent re-injury to Taylor Mueller‘s knee put things on red alert. But the red card ejection of Shawn Ferguson on Saturday night threw the Battery into crisis mode. If the red stands — and the team spoke to the league on Monday to ask the Disciplinary Committee to over-turn Ferguson’s automatic one-game suspension — then Charleston is down to one regular central defender, Captain Colin Falvey.

Anhaeuser didn’t sound too optimistic about the appeal. “Just because the card happened so far away from the video. ”

There is one new face at training this week in the form of S.C. United Battery Academy/Bishop England alumni Joe Terry, a defender and rising sophomore at Regis University in Colorado. Terry has trained with the team the past two days.

Eric Shannon

Eric Shannon

SHANNON TO WILMINGTON? Here’s an unusual piece of fallout from Saturday’s double-red-card moment: Not only is Ferguson facing suspension this weekend, so is Wilmington’s starting goalkeeper, Quillan Roberts.

Which means Battery backup Eric Shannon might be making an unexpected trip up Highway 17 at the end of the week. Hammerheads backup Matt Glaeser would start on Friday night against Pittsburgh in Wilmington if Roberts’ suspension stands, but would need a backup. So Charleston will likely loan Shannon to Coach Dave Irving  for the match.

Glaeser, you may remember, was the mystery man in the Battery dugout during the home opener on March 22. When Shannon’s international paperwork didn’t come through in time for the match, Irving sent Glaeser down to help out his friend Anhaeuser.

Shannon would return to Charleston for Saturday night’s match against the Riverhounds.

Michael Kafari

Michael Kafari

KAFARI IN THE MIX: Battery midfielder Michael Kafari made the 18 for the first time on May 10 against Wilmington, but was a mystery no-show during the mid-week match against Panama City Beach and the Saturday return engagement with the Hammers. Turns out he had returned to New Mexico to attend his college graduation.

Kafari aggravated a previous injury in his only preseason appearance and didn’t begin working back into training until the regular season was well under way. But he’s looked promising in training — and could figure as a possible replacement along the depleted back line.

“He’s doing a lot better,” Anhaeuser said. “He’s a defensive center-mid, (and) we’ve been trying to play him at outside back. But he was injured when he got here, so we weren’t able to play him too much. Which stinks, because now, he is a player that possibly could play at the back, center back or outside back. So he’s going to be an option for us, especially with the injuries that we have… It’s just a matter of where we can get him on the field.”

Amadou Sanyang

Amadou Sanyang

THE INJURY LIST: Forward Dane Kelly (knee)  isn’t back to 100 percent, but he trained with the team on Tuesday. Midfielder Amadou Sanyang (face) looked good, but was limited in training. He did participate in a controlled scrimmage, scoring on a nifty long-range shot. Both men are well positioned to be available for the weekend.

The prognosis is less optimistic for Mueller (knee), who did some passing drills but then ran on his own. “I just don’t want to rush,” Anhaeuser said. “No matter what’s happening, you don’t want to injure a player.”

Defender Quinton Griffith and midfielder Jarad van Schaik both sat out much of Tuesday’s session. They have “tweaks,” but are also coming off three 90-minute matches in the space of seven days. Van Schaik, by the way, lost his voice before the Wilmington game.

SAVAGE TO BANTAMS: Unsigned Battery forward Austin Savage left to join the Palmetto Bantams F.C. after training with the Battery on Monday. The Bantams are a PDL club formerly based in Greenwood, but they were purchased by S.C. United in late April and will play their home games around Columbia in 2014.

The Bantams and the Battery have been building closer ties over the last few years, and Savage is something of a test case. The Battery prospect spent the 2013 season as a seldom-used backup and is expected to get good minutes with the PDL team, which is primarily comprised of collegiate players.

TRAINING:  With assistant Troy Lesesne off on a family thing, Anhaeuser ran the practice, which put an emphasis on quick passing. The squad held a controlled scrimmage on a short field, and backup midfielder Justin Portillo looked particularly sharp, finishing crisply on chances from multiple ranges and angles.

unnamedFALVEY’S ARMY: The Battery will conducting its second Falvey’s Army muster on Wednesday evening, this time at the area’s newest soccer bar, My Father’s Mustache on Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. Think of it as sort of a happy hour with Battery players.

The idea behind this series is to attract fans to several different bars and restaurants, then get them socializing with players and each other. The first of these was held down at Molly Darcy’s right after the Richmond game and was well attended. Highlight of the night: Player karaoke.

The My Father’s Mustache muster is going to feature corn hole and billiards competitions.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: No Battery players made the USL Pro Team of the Week for the second week in a row. Hammerheads Jordan Hamilton and Yahaya Musa made the team. Battery midfielder Aminu Abdallah and forward Heviel Cordoves were named as Honorable Mentions.

JUSTIN EVANS OUT: Pittsburgh Riverhounds Coach Justin Evans, who played for the Battery in 2002, got his walking papers on Monday after four years at the helm. A record of 0-4-3 after a big-spending offseason will do that to a coach. Riverhounds defender Nikola Katic replaced Evans as interim coach ahead of the team’s grueling 2/24 Carolinas road trip this week. Pittsburgh plays at Wilmington on Friday and at Charleston on Saturday.

TOP IMAGE: Justin Portillo launches one of several scoring shots he finished in Tuesday’s training session. Janet Edens Conover photos.

 

2 Comments

  1. that’s a shame about Justin getting fired, right before he was to come down here. Nice guy, hope he lands on his feet.

  2. Don’t know Evans personally, but he has a good rep. From a more pragmatic perspective, handing the team over to a 27-year-old player with an “interim” tag doesn’t immediately inspire confidence. There’s a correlation between coaching changes and an immediate spike in performance, which usually levels out. But if you’re the Riverhounds — who are in bankruptcy, let’s not forget — are you playing harder to impress a teammate who won’t be the next coach, or are you just bewildered ahead of a 2/24 road trip? Gonna be interesting to see how the Hounds react.