Some notes to pass along between chores and paying-gigs on an afternoon in which I’m counting my blessings that the stories we cover here in Charleston don’t involve not having a stadium or trying to figure out how to spin the hiring of a manager whose dream dinner date is Benito Mussolini…
CONTRACTS? Still no formal announcements from the Battery front office, but the word from the Twitter Machine suggests we may be close to getting confirmation on at least one and maybe two rookie signings.
Congratulations to Shawn Ferguson for inking a pro contract with @chas_battery! We’re so proud and know he’ll be successful!
— Charleston Soccer (@COFCSoccer) April 1, 2013
The Twitter clues around Austin Savage’s status are a bit less obvious and not nearly so reliably sourced as Sean Ferguson’s, but given the team’s composition, depth (or lack of it) at forward and his preseason contributions so far, it would rank as a surprise right now if the club wasn’t at least in negotiations with the former Summerville/Clemson striker.
And if you’re wondering whether it’s Sean or Shawn, I have no idea. C of C consistently refers to him as Shawn, and the Battery spells it Sean. I’ll ask him next time I see him.
TEAM STATUS: Another way to look at the odds of Ferguson and Savage signing with the team is just to look at everyone who has been training with the team and work backwards. This list is based on the players with the team on Saturday, and while the front office says there’s no new player personnel news today, that should never be viewed as the Word of God.
Players who were signed before camp or whose announcements have already been made (11): Returning players Jose Cuevas, Cody Ellison, Colin Falvey, Kevin Klasila, Taylor Mueller, Nicki Paterson, Amadou Sanyang and Mark Wiltse were listed as signed back in February Whatever issues kept John Wilson from being listed with that group were quickly resolved. Incoming players Jarad van Schaik and Quinton Griffith were the next to be announced.
Los Tres Cubanos (listed separately because their paperwork enters a whole new level of complexity I don’t pretend to understand): Maikel Chang, Odisnel Cooper, Heviel Cordoves (the player formerly known as “Evier Cordovez”). All three are listed as signed.
Players (expected to be) on loan to the Battery (2): Dane Kelly and Ben Fisk. Officially, Fisk is still a trialist until the front office or GM/Coach Mike Anhaeuser say otherwise. Unofficially, all signs point to Fisk being here all season on loan from the Whitecaps. Kelly is believed to be (and I use that vague verb construction on purpose) on loan again from Tivoli Gardens in Jamaica. But could he wind up signing a transfer deal? Either way, Kelly is certainly someone the Battery hope to put on the field, regardless of his formal status.
Rookie trialists (3): Austin Savage, Sean Ferguson and Chris Thomas. Savage and Ferguson have been here since the beginning of camp. Thomas arrived just before the Wilmington game and saw his first extended minutes on Saturday.
Veteran players whose status I don’t yet understand (2): Utility men Zach Prince and Michael Azira. Whatever their formal contract status, I know the Battery originally listed both as returning players because I built this site’s roster based on the players the club listed on the club site back in February. Later on the league got anal about who could be listed on the team’s USL PRO site, and checking both roster lists today reveals that neither Azira nor Prince are listed on either (for what it’s worth, the USL PRO site lists only 11 players on the Battery roster, and one of them is Ryan Richter, who signed with Toronto FC last month). Both are versatile contributors, and team captain Colin Falvey singled out Azira for praise two weeks ago. So I’m scratching my head over these two.
But seriously, what do I know? Just trying to keep things in the best available context.
That adds up to 21 players training with the team. If you figure there’s some truth to the Vancouver media reports (which the Battery front office doesn’t deny — it just doesn’t comment on them) that say two more players are heading our way (with a third player rumored to be a possibility as well), that would push the Battery roster up to as many as 24. And that might be more than they want to carry, even if they’re not paying the salaries on four of those guys.
Based on everything I’ve heard better-informed people say this spring, I’m anticipating an early regular season roster of between 21 and 23 players, with the club able to tap up to five academy players for game-day depth, as needed. So we’re probably getting close.
SPEAKING OF USL PRO: You did remember that we’re in the regular season now, right? The L.A. Blues opened things on Saturday by beating expansion Phoenix on Saturday, and the Blues are back again for their second regular season match tonight against enigmatic expansion team VSI Tampa Bay FC.
Tampa visits the Blues, which is a good thing, because despite a lot of big talk about retractable roofs and modular soccer specific architecture and MLS expansion plans, it doesn’t look like the club has actually signed a stadium deal yet for its home matches.
For those of you keeping score at home, the Tampa franchise is scheduled to host the Rochester Rhinos somewhere in Central Florida in (checks watch) eleven days and four hours.
There’s a newspaper report that says the team is close to signing a deal that will put VSITBFC (try saying that with a mouthful of crackers) in the Cincinnati Reds’ old spring-training baseball stadium about 25 miles from downtown Tampa in Plant City. But even that’s not confirmed by the club yet. And fans of the fledgling club are starting to get antsy.
Anyway, you can catch tonight’s Blues-Tampa match live on USL Nation (uslnation.com) at 7 p.m.
YOU THINK VSITBFC HAS PROBLEMS? At least their manager isn’t an Italian fascist.
By the way, the owner of this historic English club is a hedge fund manager from Texas.
BATTERY TV UPDATE: So I ran into Dane Arlauckas, the Battery’s video intern, again on Saturday, and while we were talking I finally realized why I wasn’t seeing new video content on the Battery website. New videos don’t show up in the rotating news feed at the top of the site, so you have to click on the Battery TV link below the fold and check.
The club is working to increase the content it provides for fans, so click that Battery TV link when you go to the site, or subscribe to the club’s Battery TV channel on YouTube. They’re making an effort to reach fans in whatever way fans want to be reached, and good on them.
BUT AMERICANS JUST DON’T LIKE SOCCER: Tickets for an upcoming friendly in St. Louis between Manchester City and Chelsea went on sale today and sold out in 20 minutes.
I AM A LOSER: Congratulations to Ben Smith, whose 63-point performance nipped Mikey Buytas and Casey Grooms for weekly honors in the Regiment’s MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager league. Buytas’ 62-point week lifted him to first place in the table, while the previous leader — namely, me — showed incredible class, character and dare-I-say-inspiring-nobility in relinquishing the top spot.
In fact, my terrible 29-point failure dropped me all the way to 4th.
I hate this game.