Charleston finished the first week of the “college tour” portion of its 2013 preseason 2-0 with a +8 goal differential and heads into the first full week of March looking to get first minutes for several players who’ve been on the mend since camp opened in early February. But the big news from this morning’s training session is another MLS opportunity for Ryan Richter.
TFC CALLING: Local fans got their first glimpse of Richter on Thursday when the returning midfielder romped through a scrimmage with the College of Charleston, laying down two assists and looking good while doing it. His late arrival was the product of a near-miss camp with D.C. United, which kept him on trial through the Carolina Challenge Cup (yes, Richter was announced as a substitute against the Chicago Fire, but that was an academy player wearing his number).
So while it looked like D.C. United’s decision might give local fans another season with Richter, don’t order that customized jersey just yet. After this morning’s training session, Richter was scheduled to leave for Toronto for a four-day trial, Battery general manager and coach Mike Anhaeuser said.
The connection? In January, Toronto’s new management hired former D.C. United assistant coach Pat Onstad as the club’s Chief Scout and Manager of Football Partnerships. Richter has gone on trial with DCU twice, so Onstad — a former Canadian International and MLS All-Star — should have a pretty good idea of what he’s getting in Richter.
Anhaeuser experimented with Richter at right back against the College of Charleston on Thursday, but said Monday that if Richter returns to the club he’ll probably stay at his usual right or left midfield spot. “He’s a big, strong guy. He’s able to play a couple of positions, but he’s probably more of an offensive threat. I played him in the back just to see. I think he could do it… I think he definitely is going to be a guy (in the Battery lineup), but he’s going up to Toronto today. So we’ll see.”
Toronto lost its MLS opener on the road in Vancouver Saturday, and is trying a different approach to its latest rebuilding job, this time under New Zealand international Ryan Nelson. It’s not hard to imagine a player with Richter’s attributes fitting Nelson’s “hard to play against” mold.
Richter is under contract, so his signing would likely be a fee transfer for the Battery. We wish him the best of luck on his trip up North.
SIGNS AND SIGNINGS: In other contract news, Anhaeuser confirmed the signing of Quintin Griffith, a member of the overachieving Antigua & Barbuda national team who spent last season with USL PRO’s Antigua Barracudas. Griffith has been one of the most active and athletic Battery players in camp, with the speed to cover big patches of turf whether playing midfield or at right back.
His signature moment so far in 2013 was a 35-to-40-yard goal on Thursday that could politely be described as a screamer. But Griffith, who turned 21 on Wednesday, took sick on Saturday and wasn’t at practice on Monday.
Anhaeuser, who Griffith’s signing was “just waiting on the paperwork.” also indicated more signings will soon be announced.
“The Cubans (2012 international defectors goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, forward Evier Cordovez and midfielder Mikhail Chang), obviously, we’ve got them settled in, just trying trying to get everything sorted,” Anhaeuser said. “Their paperwork is just different, so we’ve … just got to wait to release it. Two of the other guys that we’re making offers for and we’re just trying to work out details with their agents.”
BATTERY 5, CLEMSON 0: It’s the nature of preseason soccer that nobody gets really formal about this stuff, but without a full writeup on Saturday’s match at Clemson fans have had to get their news on the match by Twitter. I asked Anhaeuser for a recap on the match just so I could enter the scoring data for the site, and he said Jose Cuevas, Zach Prince, Gibson Bardsley and Clemson grad Austin Savage scored the first four. “Jared (van Shaik) scored our last one, off a corner kick, beautiful goal, full volley. All the goals were nice, good build-ups. We scored four in the second half. They tried to press us in the first half and they did a great job.”
So now you know what I know about Clemson.
MORE COLLEGE STUFF: This week features games tomorrow against Georgia Southern (8 p.m.) and on Thursday against Coastal Carolina (6 p.m.). Both are scheduled for Blackbaud Stadium, and there’s no admission fee.
With eight goals and two clean sheets in two matches, Anhaeuser is pleased with the way the team has handled its college opponents so far. “When you’re scoring goals, nice goals, good build-ups, good strikes, that’s great. And we’re not just getting it from one player. We’re getting it all the place right now.”
After conceding three goals to Vancouver in the first 50 minutes of their first match of the preseason, the Battery finished the rest of the Carolina Challenge Cup with a 5-3 aggregate goal differential and a final night win over Houston. So other than that shaky start, the Battery have been in decent form to start the year. Now the emphasis shifts to getting players fit.
“Being able to get guys 90 minutes is really the key right now,” Anhaeuser said. “And we have two more games against Georgian Southern and Coastal this week, so we’ll do the same thing, just trying to get everybody their 90 minutes. Even Cordovez, Mikhail (Chang) coming back, getting them some minutes. So right now that’s really the focus.”
Chang, a dynamic midfielder by most accounts, injured himself in the early days of camp and has yet to return to full practice. But he’s been looking stronger and faster, and this week could mark his debut. “I think if it was an intrasquad scrimmage, I could be protective and probably get him in tomorrow,” Anhaeuser said. “So possibly Thursday I could maybe give him 10, 15 minutes, if he progresses and does his fitness work tomorrow and passes his testing. I think we might be able to get him out there and start doing a little bit.”
INJURY REPORT: The most notable person on the sidelines Monday morning was 2012 Battery scoring leader Nicki Paterson, who also sat out Thursday’s match against the Cougars. Anhaeuser said the Scot picked up an injury during the CCC while playing a lot of minutes. Paterson indicated he was fine and called sitting out practice “precautionary.”
Right back Mark Wiltse has been an injury scratch since the first weekend of practices, but might play as early as Thursday. Ralph Lundy Jr. was sidelined this morning with an injury picked up against C of C, his alma mater.
SPEAKING OF VANCOUVER: And we were, sort of, up at the top where the topic was Richter’s trial with Toronto. TFC’s biggest loss on Saturday wasn’t 0-1 to the Whitecaps, but Captain Jay DeMerit to a ruptured Achilles in the first minutes of the match.
The sub rosa chatter around Blackbaud Stadium during the CCC was that DeMerit’s non-appearance in any of Vancouver’s games was a bad sign for the captain’s health. The club listed his ailment as foot or heel related, and there was talk about it being a chronic problem.
Well, it’s not chronic anymore. A fully ruptured Achilles is one of the most dramatic injuries that I’ve ever seen up close, and recovery is a long-term project.
Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of DeMerit.