This morning at 11:45 the Charleston Battery boarded a charter bus, left their 2012 USL PRO championship and successful preseason forever behind, and headed north to meet traditional rival Richmond in the opening skirmish of their 2013 campaign.
But the news of the day was probably equal parts who wasn’t aboard as the team pulled out of Daniel Island.
Returning midfielder Michael Azira stayed behind because the paperwork (I’m not clear whether it’s an immigration/work visa issue, or something to do with certification from the Uganda’s soccer federation) that would allow him to play has not yet arrived. Defensive midfielder Amadou Sanyang, who suffered a concussion on March 30, remains in Charleston because of continuing symptoms. And trialist Chris Thomas, the last rookie into camp in March, is still training with the club, but not traveling.
There’s one other Battery player remaining here over the weekend, and he’s someone we first heard mentioned in discussions up in Vancouver, British Columbia, around the middle of last month. His name is Emmanuel Adjetey, and he’s a speedy midfielder who impressed the Whitecaps on trial this winter. It’s not clear from the Whitecaps website whether Adjetey’s contract is with the senior club or the PDL side, but Adjetey figured as a substitute in several of the MLS squad’s reserve matches, including one in April. plus wins over the Carolina Railhawks and the College of Charleston. Charleston Battery President Andrew Bell said both of the players on loan from Vancouver (the other being Ben Fisk) are PDL players.
Adjetey is one of three players that Vancouver fans and media have associated with loans to the Charleston Battery this offseason.
As for the slowly budding relationship between Charleston and Vancouver…
“I think something is imminent,” Bell said. “It didn’t happen as quickly as I thought it would this week. But we’re moving forward. We’re not affiliated with a team yet. Plainly we’re not. But we do have these two players with us now from Vancouver. But it’s not their MLS players. They’re PDL players. So we’re looking for the correct relationship here. We don’t want to just be a team that has four players (on season-long affiliation loans) and that’s it. We want something that’s … a little more rounded.”
While we wait for events to color in that outline, here’s Adjetey’s Youtube highlight reel. Nice bending free kick.
BUT BACK TO RICHMOND: I’ll be writing more of a Richmond preview tomorrow before the match, but the overview is that this is a tough defensive opponent. And it sure would be nice if the Battery could suit up their top forward, Dane Kelly against them.
Whether or not that will happen depends on the front office down in Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica.
“If it comes through he’ll be able to play,” said Coach Mike Anhaeuser. “It’s supposed to come through. We talked to his club yesterday afternoon and it should all be in. Hopefully it’s in as I get into the office. So we’re taking 18 and if something like that happens, that’s just like having an injury.”
Anhaeuser said he hasn’t picked his starting 11, and typically doesn’t announce that until after the team has had its walk-through at the stadium. If all goes well, the coach will have options.
“If I can put (out) a more experienced team, or sometimes more players that have played at Richmond, it’s just like being (more comfortable),” he said. “The good thing is we have a bunch of guys with experience and that is important, especially on your first road game. But if we have to play some of the younger guys, they’ve all shown great in the preseason, and I’ll tell you what, I have all the confidence in the world whoever we put out there. Which is a great thing.”
Veteran Battery midfielder Nicki Paterson said the Richmond Kickers are a tough opponent, particularly with 2012 Battery goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra on the field for them.
“I mean a point on the road is never a bad thing,” Paterson said. “Especially first game of the season, especially at Richmond. But I think we’ve got to go up there and keep it tight to begin with, and then take our opportunities when they come.”
TOP PHOTO: Goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper and midfielder Nicki Paterson load up for Richmond. Dan Conover photos.