So, how’s everybody been?
It’s been 10 days since the Battery last suited up for that scoreless draw against VSI Tampa Bay. The European leagues are on hiatus. And with so many local coaches and players involved in camps right now, we’re at one of 2013’s low ebbs in soccer activity.
So what did you do on your break, besides watch the Confederations Cup, the U-20 Cup, and a particularly memorable CaliClassico?
Personally, I took the week off from covering local soccer and wrapped up a big contract that’s been clogging up my schedule since May. And I fixed a bunch of bikes.
But enough about me.
Rested and ready, but not tanned
After logging 16 games between May 1 and June 22, the Charleston Battery were due a break, and Coach Anhaeuser gave the team three days off starting on Friday. It might not have been the three best beach days of 2013 given the run of wet weather Charleston’s been under, but it was a welcome break for everyone, apparently. They got back together on Monday and began training for their Friday night home match against the league-leading Orlando City Lions.
“They look sharp,” Anhaeuser said. “They look recovered, and we look healthy. Dane Kelly got back last night … he was gone all last week (down in Jamaica working out a Green Card issue), but it looks like he’ll be with us for the rest of the season.
“They look happy and healthy and a little refreshed. Even me. That’s the nice thing about having a few days off. Hopefully it just carries on and we get some weather to clear up for the game on Friday. But we’re excited. We know we’ve got Orlando home and away. We’re going to take the first game, and it’s two big games for us and the players know that. We know it as a club. We’ve got to be ready to play and we’ve got to be 100 percent, mentally and physically.”
Said team captain Colin Falvey, “It’s the same as anything. When you see someone day in and day out, people do get under people’s skins. That’s part and parcel of soccer, because we’re constantly around each other. Sometimes you’re on the road together for a week, living out of each other’s pockets. I think it was good that we all got away. Now we’re back in, having jokes, telling a few stories.”
The group spent most of Tuesday’s training in a competitive finishing drill where three groups of field players rotated setting up shots, and like most Battery competitions there was plenty of trash talk and a bit of complaining. Falvey welcomed it. “That helps as well. We’re all in high spirits.”
USC goalkeeper, and an exhibition match
There was one new player on the training field Tuesday — 6-5 University of South Carolina goalkeeper Robert Beebe of Summerville. Locals may remember him as one of the most highly decorated prep players in the state in 2011 when he came out of Pinewood Prep. Today Beebe plays for Palmetto Bantams FC, a PDL franchise in Columbia, and could well be the starting keeper for the Gamecocks this fall. Anhaeuser said it was good to have a third keeper on a day when the team is practicing its finishing, but also suggested we might be seeing Beebe around.
It’s not on the team schedule at the moment, but the Battery will be playing the Bantams on Saturday in Columbia at 7:30 p.m.
“We set the game schedule with them back in the spring,” said Battery President Andrew Bell. “We wanted to do a home-and-away with them and we hosted the ’home’ part of the arrangement a few weeks back when they played a league game here before our match with Houston.
“There is definitely value in playing the game as it will give Mike Anhaeuser a chance to get some guys 90 minutes who really need it right now. There are lots of other positives though, including helping support their program. They are a great group and we are happy to assist them wherever we can.”
This hasn’t been the best year for the grass on Daniel Island. There’s been so much rain and so much use that there’s dead grass on the field at Blackbaud Stadium, where the team plans on scrimmaging on Wednesday. And the practice field behind the stadium is off-limits because of recent maintenance.
That pushed the team over to their secondary practice field just down the road from the Blackbaud complex. It was a soggy mess, with standing water and muddy patches that pretty much deny the team the opportunity to scrimmage on a larger field.
“So we’ve been out here for two days,” Anaheuser said. “We played a little 4v4 yesterday, and you can see that we’ve had so much rain that we’re trying to work within the areas that we have. ”
As for the stadium field, the coach wants to get the team back on it before Friday because it’s a little different than the players are used to . “The grass has died in some areas and we’ve got some sand on it, so we want to get out there and make sure we’ve got a good feel for it.”
There’s not an app for that
One of the first “scoops” this site every collected — and let’s be honest, on the Scoop-O-Meter, this one barely registered — came back in February when we reported that Cainhoy Road technology company SPARC, the Battery’s 2013 jersey sponsor was going to be rolling out a smart phone app for Battery fans. As we wrote back on Feb. 22:
According to Eric Bowman, SPARC’s CEO, overhauling the Battery’s website was just the first step in an ongoing digital makeover that will eventually feature a mobile app that will change the way fans connect to the team. He expects to roll out the app in the next few months.
The goal is to “engage their spectators as much as possible inside the game,” Bowman said. “We’re going to set it up so you can actually send a SPARCET (a digital appreciation message) to a player if you thought they did something great. I can’t give everything away right away, but there’s going to be some really innovative ways that not only the consumers can interact with the team, but also have a greater experience while they’re at the game.”
A couple of weeks ago, while writing about the midpoint in the season, it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard anything more about the product, so I wrote to company spokesman Chad Norman. He sent this reply:
We are still working on developing an app for the Battery to roll out to its fans, however the launch will most likely be pushed to the 2014 season. Our commercial services business has grown faster than anticipated, and our resources are fully dedicated to meeting those needs. We do continue to support the Battery both as a partner (sponsorship & website design/development) and as a customer (their organization is using our recognition app Sparcet).
So file that under “Things To Ask About Next Season.”
Bus trip to Wilmington
The Regiment — with a little help from Molly Darcy’s — will be heading up to Wilmington for its annual away-game bus trip on Friday Aug. 2.
We have secured a 49 passenger bus (with bathroom facitities!) that will leave Blackbaud Stadium at 1:00pm on Friday August 2. We will travel to Legion Stadium in Wilmington for the match and will return shortly after the match with an approximate return of 1:00am Saturday morning.Cost for current Regiment members is only $35 ($45 for non-members) and will include travel and ticket to the match, a great deal!
I’m bummed that I won’t be able to join in because of a family commitment, but if you’re not hosting guests from out of town that day, get over there and sign up.
Speaking of the Regiment, the supporters’ group’s MLS fantasy league is turning into a two-team race for the crown. Luke Largin’s Deux Bleus FC lead Mikey Buytas‘ Holy City Hooligan 1,058 to 1,047, despite Buytas winning Week 18. None of the other teams have more than 1,000.
American Outlaws update
If you’ve been following our local effort to get an American Outlaws chapter off the ground in Charleston, you know we’re tantalizingly close to proving the requite 25 active members. Buytas took the job as provisional chapter president just to get things started, and at our most recent count we should be within two or three memberships of meeting the threshold.
There’s also a American Outlaws Charleston Twitter account (@AOCharleston) and Facebook page…
My AO shirt arrived last week, and the bandanna is already being coveted by our twentysomething sons…
So, as our forefathers said … join or die…
BTW, I’ll be at the Gold Cup match in Baltimore on July 21. If you’re going up for the anticipated U.S. match, lemme know.
USL PRO update
When the Battery last played on June 22, they secured third place in the USL PRO table with 26 points. They’ve since dropped to 4th, with Orlando (32), Harrisburg (31) and undefeated Richmond (30) ahead of them.
We’ll look at this in greater depth later this week, but since Sporting Kansas City pulled its three loaned players (including Dom Dwyer, who set the record for most goals in a USL PRO season last month) back from Orlando, the Lions haven’t won a match.
Oh, and courtesy of Mikey Buytas, check out this weird thing about the new Oklahoma soccer franchise… and the USL lawsuit against the move… looks like this is going to require more reporting…
More news on Thursday…
TOP IMAGE: Zach Prince celebrates scoring a goal that put his team ahead in a finishing competition on Tuesday. Speaking of Zach Prince, be sure to check out this cool feature from The Moultrie News about Zach’s other full-time job. Dan Conover photos.