Thursday morning produced an extremely rare message from Battery Athletic Trainer Bobby Weisenberger: “All players in training today and available for selection.”
Just how rare is that? Rare enough that I can’t remember the last time Weisenberger was able to say those words.
How fleeting was it? By the time Thursday’s light training session wrapped up around noon, Coach Mike Anaheuser found himself juggling the 19 names on his travel roster for this weekend’s dreaded 2/24 (that’s shorthand for USL PRO’s signature penny-pinching “two games in 24 hours” scheduling) trip to Pittsburgh and Rochester because of aggravated injuries.
And by 4 p.m. it was official: Forwards Dane Kelly and Mamdou Diouf — the only forwards who have managed regular season goals for the Battery this season — will be sitting out the year’s first multi-game road trip.
Their injuries are not considered serious, but with the team playing matches Saturday and Sunday, Anhaeuser has to manage his travel squad and game-day rosters with an eye toward durability.
Diouf had appeared in all four Battery games, starting the last two in partnership with Kelly.
This week’s travel roster: goalkeepers Odisnel Cooper and Eric Shannon; defenders John Wilson, Colin Falvey, Shawn Ferguson, Taylor Mueller, Quinton Griffith and Jackson Farmer; midfielders Amadou Sanyang, Jarad van Schaik, Aminu Abdallah, Justin Portillo, Zach Prince, Andre Lewis and Maikel Chang; forwards Heviel Cordoves, Adam Mena, Omar Salgado and Marlon Ramirez.
Ramirez and Portillo were the late additions, and both should expect to see significant minutes on the northern swing.
Both Ramirez and Shannon will likely make their regular season Battery debuts, with Shannon expected to make his first start on Sunday at Rochester.
Midfielders Michael Kafari and Dante Marini will remain in Charleston with Kelly and Diouf. Kelly has been in and out of training all week with a bruise picked up against New York on the 18th, and Diouf has been dealing with a bad ankle he picked up on Tuesday. Both dressed and trained on Thursday, but didn’t finish the session.
The Battery will be flying to Pittsburgh on Friday. They’ll play Saturday night at Highmark Stadium downtown, then rent a bus for the 285-mile trip to Rochester, where they’ll play the Rhinos on Sunday afternoon. The team will fly home.
The Battery head north again next week, with dates at Harrisburg and Dayton, but will make the second trip by bus.
Team Captain Falvey will miss the Pittsburgh match with a suspension from his ejection on a second yellow last weekend, and Wilson will likely take his arm band. Wilson is unlikely to start on Sunday — part of Anhaeuser’s system of managing his 36-year-old fullback’s minutes.
The two-game trip will likely feature the return of Vancouver forward Salgado, who left his first USL PRO start before the hour with a foot injury against Richmond on March 29.
Battery open USOC at home May 14
Charleston will open their 2014 U.S. Open Cup campaign with a second-round match-up at Blackbaud versus Panama City Beach Pirates of the PDL.
The mid-week match will start at 7:30 and promises to be a low-key affair. The team is unlikely to open the East Stands concessions, parking will be free, and ticket prices start at $5.
The Beach Pirates come to town in the middle of Charleston’s home-and-away series with Wilmington (at home on May 10, at Wilmington on May 17).
This year’s Open Cup is the largest field in the “modern era” (since the mid-1990s), and with 80 teams in this year’s tournament, USL PRO enters the bracket in Round Two and will play another round of elimination before the MLS teams enter the picture in Round Four.
Last year the Battery flew out to Portland to play the Timbers U-23s of PDL, escaping with a 1-0 win. They hosted the San Jose Earthquakes in Round Three, upsetting the Supporters Shield winners 1-0, and actually led Real Salt Lake 2-0 before collapsing late in Round Four. Charleston reached the final of the long-running tournament in 2008, falling to rival D.C. United.
TOP IMAGE: Coach Mike Anhaeuser addresses the team Thursday as the Battery wrap up a short week of training before heading out for their first two-game road trip of 2014. Dan Conover photos.