One thing is for sure, the Battery was definitely not looking past the Harrisburg City Islanders. Charleston has a huge game looming on July 3 against Rochester, but first they had to host the Islanders.
I don’t know if the phrase is used often in soccer, but in other sports, this would be cited as a classic example of a trap game. A trap game is one played before a really big matchup when a team is so excited for the upcoming game that they don’t fully focus on the present competition, and often lose to a team they otherwise would have handled.
Harrisburg certainly fit the bill as a midtable team that needs to get over the line and into a playoff position. But Charleston approached the game as same as any other, and dominated the game in a 4-1 victory to move into second place in the East.
After the 2-1 loss to Charlotte last week, I wrote about the team’s struggles to score multiple goals, and how they needed to find more ways of putting the ball into the net. Well, I stand corrected. The Battery didn’t change anything — they just did what they have been doing better. Dane Kelly scored twice, while Taylor Mueller and Ricky Garbanzo added goals of their own on Saturday, before Harrisburg got its only goal on a late penalty kick.
“At this time of year sometimes things dry up a little bit, but obviously Dane opened it up in the second minute and that just put us in a good place,” Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser said. “The way they were playing, they were trying to pass it so we were going to get chances and we knew that, they were going to give us breaks on the counter and we did a great job.”
Here’s a “sketch” of the way Charleston lined up Saturday.
Woodbine Ferguson Mueller Adjetey
Portillo van Schaik
Prince Garbanzo Chang
So, a regular lineup, with the exception of Kevin Corby getting the start in goal over Odisnel Cooper, who was injured. It was the second consecutive start for him, and the fourth of the season. He finished with five saves on the night en route to his first win with the Battery. Cooper last played against Orlando City in the U.S. Open Cup on June 17.
The remaining 10 players are regular starters, although that could change now that Quinton Griffith is healthy once again. (However, he was red-carded for a two-footed tackle late in the game after being substituted on, so he won’t be an option on Friday.) He has been used as both a full back and a midfielder this season, and can play comfortably in either role.
In my opinion, he is most likely to take the spot of either Emmanuel Adjetey or Zach Prince. Griffith provides a better attacking option than Adjetey, but Adjetey has been so good on defense that it’s hard to take sit him. He has shut down the opposition and seems to always be on his man when the ball is played that direction. Prince has been used a lot as a second-half substitute in midfield, but he has played right back as well. My bet would be on Griffith taking that role. But Anhaeuser could get creative since Griffith and Prince can play multiple positions.
The defense had a great game against Harrisburg, as they forced the Islanders to take outside shots, and collapsed on the ball-carrier whenever he would get close to the box. Harrisburg was never able to get anything going offensively. Kelly started up top and had a great game, scoring twice. Heviel Cordoves came on for him in the second half, per the usual rotation. Cordoves limped off the field after the final whistle with an ankle sprain that could keep him out for a few weeks.
The midfield kept the same shape, with two players playing in the deep center and three playing in front of them. The outside midfielders continue to play forward while the full backs make overlapping runs on attacks. O’Brian Woodbine has good crossing ability in particular, so anytime he is involved on offense is a good thing.
2nd minute, GOAL Charleston (Kelly, assisted by Mueller)
Kelly’s first goal came so early on in the match that a lot of fans weren’t yet in their seats. His score came off a long ball played by Mueller from the defensive end. It flew over everyone in the midfield, and Kelly was able to get around defender Shane Johnson and cut inside to the box.
He started to dribble across the box but stopped when he got to the near post and shot it. Johnson tried to slide in for the block but he was too late and the ball rolled in between goalkeeper Nick Noble and the post.
39th minute, GOAL Charleston (Mueller, unassisted)
Mueller made it 2-0 for Charleston a few minutes before halftime when he blasted a ball in from the center of the box. The ball came from a free kick on the edge of the left side of the box. Kelly had been fouled right on the line, and Portillo took the kick, which then bounced off a player in the penalty area before falling to Mueller, who was able to bury it.
It was Mueller’s second goal of the season. His first came in the season-opener against Toronto FC II on March 21.
62nd minute, GOAL Charleston (Kelly, assisted by Prince)
Charleston’s third goal of the night started with a play from the team’s leader in assists, Maikel Chang. He played a good ball across the field to Prince to switch the play, and Prince then ran forward before laying it off to Kelly on the right side. Kelly took a few dribbles towards the area, and recognizing that the two closest defenders were not closing him down quickly, took a shot from outside the box which curved in and beat Noble.
“I wasn’t going to shoot it, but they left me open,” Kelly said.
75th minute, GOAL Charleston (Garbanzo, assisted by Chang)
Garbanzo scored probably the easiest goal he will ever see in the 75th minute to stretch the lead to four. Griffith sent a ball in from the right side that bounced off of a Harrisburg defender and fell to Chang. Chang’s bouncing shot hit the post and rebounded right to Garbanzo, who easily tapped it in.
Portillo had a great pass to start the buildup when he played a long, lofted ball into Griffith’s path from behind midfield.
89th minute, GOAL Harrisburg (Jankouskas, penalty)
The City Islanders got on the scoreboard in the 89th minute when the referee called a foul on Memo Rodriguez. It didn’t look like a lot of contact, but it was enough to send the attacker to the ground. Jankouskas took the kick from the spot and beat Corby down the middle to make it 4-1.
Coming up next
Friday will be the biggest matchup of the season so far, as undefeated Rochester comes to Charleston. The Rhinos are five points ahead of the Battery, and have played one less game. The Battery will really want to get all three points at home, and I expect them to go for it.
Rochester, on the other hand, might be content with sitting back and letting the Battery do most of the attacking. The Rhinos would probably be satisfied with a draw in a hostile environment, but then again, a victory would put them so far ahead that it would take a series of bad results for them to slip out of first place.
The Battery will have its work cut out for them, as Rochester has only allowed five goals this season (really!) while scoring 18. The Rhinos have not played Richmond yet this season, and this is their first meeting with Charleston. Louisville City FC is the best-ranked team to play Rochester so far, and the sides have tied 0-0 in two meetings. They beat Pittsburgh on Saturday 1-0 thanks to a penalty kick in the 78th minute. So Rochester is unquestionably a very good team, but not unbeatable. Anhaeuser seems to think his side has a good chance at winning.
“They’re very organized defensively and we’re really going to have to work this week on moving the ball and creating problems around the outside and with our pace and where we do things very well,” Anhaeuser said.”I think we’ve got a great team to combat their defensive strategy. I think we can get in behind them and cause them problems but it’s going to be a great matchup. I’m excited for it and I’m sure the fans will be excited for it.”
— Carlos Bocanegra was at the game Friday and spent time in the Three Lions Pub after the game. Bocanegra, who made 110 apperances with the US national team, retired in 2014 and is now the technical director for Atlanta United FC, which is scheduled to begin play in MLS in 2017. Among other things, a technical director scouts possible signings.
— Orlando City announced plans to start its own USL side next season, the Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday. The Lions are currently affiliated with Louisville City FC, which received the USL license held by Orlando when the organization joined MLS.
— Kelly was named to the USL team of the week for his performance, and Mueller made the reserves list.
Top photo: Midfielder Zach Prince tries to beat his defender in the first half Saturday. Credit: Charleston Battery.