After more than six weeks of mostly smooth pavement and tailwinds, the Charleston Battery’s 2013 season hit a great big pot hole on the road through Richmond, losing 4-1.
Despite dominating the first 20 minutes Saturday, the team surrendered a stunner in the 23rd minute, another in the 32nd, and came within a Cody Ellison kick-save of a third in the 35th.
The club rallied, however, and Colin Falvey’s push up the middle in the 39th minute appeared to set up a penalty kick when a Kicker brought down attacker Jose Cuevas in the area. But there would be no call.
The highlight of the night for Battery fans came in the 45th minute, when veteran left back John Wilson cut the lead to one with a tremendous individual effort and an assist from Nicki Paterson.
About 10 minutes into the second half the Battery came within a whisker of equalizing when Jarad van Schaik pushed the ball ahead to Dane Kelly in the penalty area. Kelly centered it smartly back to Paterson, but his sharp volley bounced off the right post.
What happened after that, I really couldn’t say. As the rebound bounced back tantalizingly into the box, the game’s UNation feed died. The roughly 25 Battery fans, employees and players (Maikel Chang and Amadou Sanyang) who had gathered to watch the opener at Molly Darcy’s erupted in frustration, then scrambled to their Twitter feeds for the next 15 or 20 minutes.
By the time the feed switched back on in the 78th minute, the Battery had surrendered a third goal to the Kickers, the second of the night by 2012 Chivas USA first-rounder Casey Townsend. With the Battery trailing 3-1 and several offensive-minded players on in relief, the team struggled to find an attacking flow, generating a few chances but even fewer open looks.
For me, the series that summed up the match came in the waning moments, when a Richmond counterattack found plenty of open turf. Center back Cody Ellison cleared away a dangerous pass ahead in the box to kill the immediate threat, and Richmond’s effort on the resulting corner kick looked low and feeble. Yet the ball somehow bounced around in the tangle of legs near the goal, ultimately deflecting off Ellison into the net for an own-goal and the final 4-1 score.
The other news
Dane Kelly’s status on Friday remained in limbo, but his appearance in the starting lineup suggests that the front office and Kelly’s Jamaican club reached at least a temporary loan agreement before game time.
The surprise news was Michael Azira. Though properly signed, the paperwork he needed in order to play had not arrived at team headquarters on Friday. Coach Mike Anhaeuser said he’d be staying behind on this road trip, but then there he was in the starting lineup Saturday night, filling in for the injured Sanyang. We’ll follow up on this later.
The feel-good story of the night
Hey, The Regiment unveiled its new tifo at the first Molly Darcy’s viewing party.
So that was cool.
The Battery Man of the Match
Undoubtedly John Wilson. The veteran left back earned the team’s only goal by pushing aggressively up the flank and then cutting toward the center to beat his marker. Paterson returned his pass with a one-touch through-ball that Wilson swerved to run down, beating the Kickers’ back line before calmly slotting past former Battery keeper Andrew Dykstra. Wilson came close on a second goal in extra time, too, but was just wide.
The defining moment
Club President and radio broadcaster Andrew Bell said it had to be when Paterson’s potential equalizer bounced off the post. “It just wasn’t our night.” And the concluding own-goal? “It bounced off (Ellison),” he said. “He had his back turned to it. Insult to injury.”
“I think if we had the possession stat, we’d have (lead that). but it was just some mental lapses that allowed them some opportunities.”
Regiment board members Phil and Bobbi Bees made the trip and Bobbi said it was one of the better Richmond crowds she had seen. She spoke to me by phone from Gus’ Bar, where Kickers fans and players gathered after the match to celebrate.
“The officiating was definitely an issue,” Bees said. “Even some of their guys said so. I couldn’t believe the officials gave no cards.”
For what it’s worth, Battery skipper Colin Falvey could be seen on the stream after the match, pursuing the officials to have a few words. They didn’t look to be exchanging recipe cards.
Meanwhile, back on East Bay Street, the initial Molly Darcy’s watch party was well-attended and the staff went out of its way to make the fans welcome. The stream was a UNation problem, not a Molly Darcy’s problem, but the bar’s wifi offered only meager strength, and dropped out five times in my first 15 minutes of using it. So liveblogging or even Tweeting isn’t gong to be much of an option there.
As Bell said afterward: “Onward and upward.”
TOP PHOTO: Regiment members display the center portion of the group’s 2013 tifo display, which Regiment President Mikey Buytas commissioned through a company in Poland. All photos by Janet Edens Conover.