By Corbin Ensminger
It’s a good indicator of the Battery’s mentality when back-to-back draws in league games is considered a rough stretch.
That’s what captain Jared van Schaik said about the team’s mentality after the 1-1 draw with Charlotte on Saturday night. Most teams would be happy with the points, but Charleston wants to win, especially when playing at home.
“It’s still positive but obviously a little frustrated too,” van Schaik said of the team’s mood. “We want to keep scoring and we want to win every game, especially at home. In a long season there’s going to be some rocky road along the way but we’ve got to keep moving, figure it out and get better.”
Charleston lost 1-0 to FC Montreal on May 14, then drew NY Red Bulls II three days later. The Battery did pick up a victory in between the draws, but it was not a league game. That 1-0 win over Miami United of the National Premier Soccer League was a 2nd round matchup in the U.S. Open Cup.
They had the lead early against the Independence, but a questionable penalty kick in the 23rd minute let the visitors level the score and it stayed that way for the rest of the game. Both sides played solid, composed defense which put a big damper on the scoring chances.
Saturday’s game was the fourth in 11 days for Charleston, so coach Mike Anhaeuser had to do some shuffling with the roster to keep fresh legs on the field. There was one late development though: Odisnel Cooper was listed as the starting goalkeeper on the official lineup sheet, but Kevin Corby was put in instead.
“He (Cooper) picked up a little injury in training and just got aggravated and we couldn’t take the risk. It was one of those where if he hit it, something bad could happen, so we were a little cautious,” Anhaeuser said. “Obviously it hurt us because we couldn’t replace him on the roster, we only had 17 and Kevin in goal. But Kevin stepped in, did a great job and was ready to go and that was good that we got him a game last week in New York.”
To his credit, Corby was not fazed about the short notice. He still had time to do warmups, and he said he mentally prepares for each game as if he will be starting, in case this situation ever comes up. Charlotte didn’t put him under a ton of pressure — he made three saves — but they were quality chances. Two of his second half saves were 1-on-1s where he had to sprint forward off his line and grab the ball.
Corby gave the credit to his defense, which stifled Charlotte for most of the night.
“It’s easy when you’ve got those guys in front of you. Taylor, Shawn, Adjetey, Obi, those guys are solid,” Corby said. “That’s an MLS starting four right there. Those guys are great players and my team really stepped up.”
Like the goalkeeper said, the backline that started Saturday was an experienced unit. Shawn Ferguson and Taylor Mueller were in their usual spots at center back, and Emmanuel Adjetey and O’Brian Woodbine played full backs. (Left and right, respectively.)
Van Schaik teamed up once again with Portillo in central midfield. In front of them, Maikel Chang played left mid and Zach Prince played right.
Dane Kelly was the striker up top, and Austin Savage got his first start of the season playing underneath him in the center of the field.
Charleston ruined Charlotte’s first-ever home game back in March, winning 3-2. The Independence showed a lot of attacking flair in that game, but their defense let them down with the trifecta of goals. Well, the defense played much better this time around, as they contained Charleston for most of the night.
On the offensive side of things, Ryan Finley seemed to be all over the field and involved in nearly every play going forward. He was always looking to shoot and had one of the best chances of the night when a through ball found him alone and facing Corby. The goalkeeper, however, was able to cut off Finley and knock the ball away with his gloved hands.
Jorge Herrera, who had one of the best assists you will see in the first meeting, was strong as well, testing the defense and eventually earning the penalty that tied the game. (More on that later.)
14th minute, GOAL Charleston (Kelly. Unassisted.)
Kelly put Charleston in front 14 minutes into the game with his strike to the bottom corner of the goal from outside of the box. Woodbine took a throw from the sideline and hurled the ball to Kelly, who controlled it at the top of the box. He turned, moved the ball to his left foot and rolled it past goalkeeper John Berner and into the net.
Woodbine has a cannon for an arm, and usually takes throw-ins when it’s on the other side of the field. He is able to launch the ball into the box from the sidelines, and that gives Charleston an advantage, as they are essentially getting a set piece play out of it. The throw to Kelly wasn’t set up for a header, but it was thrown almost halfway across the field, so Kelly was able to immediately turn and shoot on target.
Anhaeuser said Woodbine’s throws are a great tool for the arsenal, but he wants to see his team get a little more physical when the ball comes in.
“We’re going to work on it. We need to challenge a little more,” Anhaeuser said, noting that Charlotte won several headers from the throws and was able to counterattack.
23rd minute, GOAL Charlotte. (Herrera, penalty kick.)
Charlotte responded well after being scored on by staying with their gameplan. In the 23rd minute, Herrera was dribbling at the top of the box when he decided to cut to his left and take it down the line. Then he went down, by the foot of a Charleston player, according to the referee. Corby guessed the right direction, but Herrera wafted the ball by him for the goal.
No rest, that’s for sure. Charleston plays again Wednesday against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL in the 3rd round of the U.S. Open Cup, and then hosts Wilmington on Saturday. Both matches kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
After that, the Battery will finally have a week between games.
Top photo: Austin Savage works to earn the ball back from the Charlotte player. Credit: Charleston Battery