Saturday, April 30, 2011

Charleston Holds On for Second Road Win of the Year

It's not easy to win on the road. Any player in any sport can tell you that. It doesn't matter what team you play, how good they are, how good you are, it's just an uphill battle.

So when the Charleston Battery went down early to a team they've already beaten this season, that team scored their first goal, and they were on the road; you'd think that their confidence would be dashed right?

They would lay down and die, and they'd be ready to pack up and hit the road back to Chucktown for their match the next night.

But that's not how this team has been playing.

Charleston has found an uncanny ability (considering Charleston has an unbeaten streak at home dating back to 2009) to play quality soccer on the road this season.

A 2-1 win against Dayton in their first match as a professional team, a 2-1 loss against Richmond, which looks to be the best team in the league, and now another 2-1 result, this time a victory for the Battery over the Charlotte Eagles.

In the 21st minute, Josh Rife headed in a goal off a short Sallieu Bundu cross to give the Eagles their first goal of the season.

11 minutes later the Battery answered with Gambian, newcomer Seedy Bah. Bah connected on a corner after a scramble in the box.

Nicki Paterson would do Bah one better. He curled in a free kick from just outside the 18 to give Charleston a 2-1 lead in the stoppage time of the first half.

Keith Wiggans played excellent, recording 5 saves with one being a game-saver in the 66th minute. Wiggans made a one handed save on a Bundu shot from just 5 yards out.

Well played Keith, well played.

This was an important win for the Battery. This was a must win against a much weaker opponent, and its nice to see that they kept their composure after giving up the early goal. Their is still a whole season in front of them, but early success is never a bad thing.

Charleston has a match with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, and will be at Blackbaud Stadium on Saturday and will be available on USL Live. The match kicks off at 7:30, and it is the Battery's "Kick for a Cure," so make sure to go to the 'Baud and support the Battery.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Preview(s): Charlotte Eagles-Charleston Battery and Charleston-Pittsburgh Riverhounds

In the first of Charleston's "2 matches in 2 days" (that we'll be seeing a couple of times this year), the Battery take on the Charlotte Eagles for the second time this year, and the National Division's Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Here's a quick preview:
Charlotte Eagles:
This Season: The Eagles have had a rough start to their season. They have lost 2 and drawn 1 of their three matches so far, and have failed to score a goal. Their first match was against Charleston, which they lost 1-0 off an own goal by Mark Bloom. Here's a full recap of that match.
Who's Playing Big: Well right now nobody. The Eagles have failed to even put out a good performance this year, their best match probably being against a Charleston team that was in the process of finding itself in that first match. The best play is probably coming from their keeper, Eric Reed. Reed has given up only 2 goals in 3 matches. Considering that they've earned one point in those two matches, less than one a game is not bad at all.
Who Needs to Step Up: THE WHOLE TEAM. Someone needs to find the back of the net to give the team some confidence, and playing Charleston is no easy task, as the Battery have been playing well this season earning 6 points in 3 matches.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds:
This Season: Pittsburgh comes into their match with Charleston holding a 1-1-0 record. Their first match came away against the red-hot Richmond Kickers, which they lost 2-1. The second match was against their in-state rival the Harrisburg City Islanders. They won that match 1-0 off a Shintaro Harada goal.
Who's Playing Big: The back line has been playing solidly in their first two matches. Giving up 2 goals in 0 matches (and both of them being against Richmond) is fair, not to mention that their game winning goal against Harrisburg was scored by Harada (a defender).
Who Needs to Step Up: Nobody in particular, but the strikers need to be scoring a little more prolifically if the Riverhounds want to compete in the league.

What to Expect:
Charleston should come out in a 4-4-2 again:
Marples Wilson Zaher Falvey
Peverley Paterson Taylor Armstrong
Coleman Bah
Wiggans should be playing both of the matches for the injured Andrew Dykstra (who should be back in 2-3 weeks). Wiggans played decently against the Kickers, but the first goal he couldn't do much about (except maybe come out), and the second was a nice goal as well.

The rest is a bit of a mystery. In these back-to-back matches, the line ups very greatly. I imagine that a weaker line up would be put out against Charlotte, and a stronger against Pittsburgh. I can see Coleman playing 2 games, or a little of each. Wilson and Armstrong will most likely play one or the other, but besides that, my guess is as good as yours.

I think that Charleston could easily win both of these matches. The Charlotte match is important, as we can't lose points to a terrible team. Pittsburgh will be the toughest challenge, especially because of that quick turn around, but at worst I see Charleston getting a single.

The match against the Eagles will not be on USL Live, but it will be on 1340 AM in Charleston, and on the Battery's website. The match starts at 7:30 PM on Friday and will be played at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.

The fixture with the Riverhounds will be at Blackbaud Stadium 7:30 on Saturday and will be available on USL Live. It is the Battery's "Kick for a Cure," so make sure to go to the 'Baud and support the Battery.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

USL Pro: Week 3 Observations

The USL Pro concluded their 4th week of play on Saturday. Bullet time:
  • Richmond Defeats Battery: In a match with two candidates for the best team in the USL Pro, we had Charleston fall to Richmond 2-1. Charleston gained an early lead on a Levi Coleman header, but eventually the Kickers got the victory after goals from two subs, David Bulow and Shaka Bangura. Here's a video of Richmond's two goals.
  • From Roberto Clemente Stadium to... Roberto Clemente Stadium?: This week we had the odd situation of the LA Blues playing two teams from Puerto Rico, in one stadium. Both Puerto Rico United and River Plate Puerto Rico are playing their home games in Roberto Clemente Stadium (a baseball stadium). The stadium is in Carolina, Puerto Rico and holds 12,500. The real home of these teams are a good ways away from Roberto Clemente Stadium, which causes the attendances to be, well awful. Puerto Rico United's home is in Aguada, around a 2 hour drive from Roberto Clemente, while River Plate's home is in Fajardo a 45 minute drive from their home stadium. Hopefully this problem with the Puerto Rican teams will be fixed in the next couple of months.
  • FC New York and Charlotte both get their first points: Two teams that look to be bottom dwellers in this year's USL Pro both got their first point of the season, when they drew 0-0 at Charlotte Christian Stadium. Both teams desperately needed at least a point in this match, and in that sense they both succeeded, but obviously scoring is going to have to come if they want to find success. Neither team has scored a goal yet.
  • Barracuda FC gets first win of the season: Stefan Smith, an Antigua native, helped the Barracudas to their first win of the season, by scoring two goals in a 3-2 victory over Sevilla FC Puerto Rico. A great story for the only Antiguan team in the USL Pro. Sir Vivian Richards Stadium was "jubilant" for the teams first ever win in league play.
  • Rhinos Back on Track: Rochester won their first game of the season Saturday, 3-2 against the Dayton Dutch Lions. Goals from Alfonso Motagalvan, JC Banks, and Anthony Hamilton gave the Rhinos the win on another rainy night at Miami Valley South Stadium. Hopefully this doesn't become a trend, as the turf makes playing at Dayton on a rainy night quite a challenge.
Biggest Surprise: Puerto Rico United earns a draw at Orlando City.
This was the biggest surprise result, as Puerto Rico United still looks to be a bit of a mess, and hasn't won a match all year. You can increase the amount of surprise when you consider that United played the last 10 minutes or so with only 10 men. This one ended 2-2 with goals for City coming both from Max Griffin, and the two for United coming from Eduardo Silva and Christian Turizo. On a side note, Orlando continues to draw crowds of 7,000+. Good work.
Biggest Disappointment: Charlotte and FC New York Draw at 0-0
I expected Charlotte and FC New York both to at least put up a bit of a fight, but it looked like this was for the most part a snooze-fest. We have two teams that look to finish at the bottom of the table, and neither team can get a goal. Depending on how you look at it, it could be disappointing or what you expected, but for me it seems like we could have at least had a couple of balls put into the back of the net.
Player of the Week: Stefan Smith-Antigua Barracuda FC
Stefan Smith scored two goals in Barracuda FC's first league win in their history, earning him player of the week honors in my opinion. Smith scored two goals in the 19th and the 21st minute, giving the Barracuda's the lead after going down 1-0 early. It would have been easy for Antigua to fold up like a cheap tent, but Smith helped them keep steady and make the comeback.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Charleston Falls to Richmond 2-1

Well they had to lose at some point.

Last night, the Charleston Battery lost their first match of the season 2-1 to the Richmond Kickers. The Battery stayed at 6 points (2-1-0) while the Kickers added three points to bring their total to 12 (4-0-0).

Here is the recap on the Battery's website.

So here is what I got out of the match (keep in mind that I only caught a bit of the game on the radio as I drove through Charleston):
  • Nice to see Levi Coleman get on the board: After going scoreless in the first two matches Coleman finally scored for Charleston. He also hit the post on a header in the 5th minute. His goal came off a header in the 15th minute to give the Battery an early lead.
  • Quality play from the Midfield continues: Now from what I heard from listening and reading the recap, it looks like the Midfield played solid again. The Battery are going to need to get some good play from the midfield while they wait on the forwards to get in the groove.
  • No Andrew Dykstra: Andrew Dykstra injured his foot in training this week and looks to be out for around 3-4 weeks. Keith Wiggans got the start, and gave up two, but it looks like he did alright.
  • Matthew Delicate held scoreless: One of the keys to a Charleston victory was to keep Matthew Delicate off the scoreboard, as he had scored in every match up to that point. He didn't score, but others stepped up for Richmond.
I think that Charleston is going to be alright. It would have been nice to get at least a point up at Richmond, but we easily could have seen the Battery lose by much more than one goal.

The biggest disappointment in this game was Charleston's failure to hold the early lead that they got off of Coleman's header. Hopefully that won't be a running theme.

Richmond Kickers:
Ronnie Pascale, Luke Vercollone, William Yomby, Henry Kalungi, Sascha Gorres, Gerson Dos Santos (Bobby Foglesong 61'), Michael Callahan (Dave Hertel 88'), Ryan Heins (Nozomi Hiroyama 46'), Edson Elcock (Shaka Bangura 88'), Stanley Nyazamba (David Bulow 46') Matthew Delicate

Goals- Bulow 63' (Callahan), Bangura 90'(Hertel)

Bookings- Nyazamba 45', Callahan 78'
Charleston Battery:
Keith Wiggans, Nigel Marples, John Wilson, Colin Falvey, Mike Zaher, Kevin Jackson (Zach Prince 61'), Cole Peverly, Evan Taylor (Alex Caskey 70'), Nicki Paterson, Dane Kelly (JC Mack 76'), Levi Coleman (Seedy Bah 56')

Goal- Coleman 15' (Peverly)

Bookings- Paterson 74', Caskey 88'
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Preview: Charleston Battery-Richmond Kickers

This Saturday, the Charleston Battery will face the league leading Richmond Kickers. Last week, Charleston defeated the Dayton Dutch Lions 2-1, while Richmond defeated Rochester 1-0. Here's what to expect:

Richmond Kickers:
This Season: The Kickers won their first 3 matches to put themselves at the top of the USL Pro table with 9 points. The Kickers three wins haven't been jokes either. They've defeated Orlando City 2-0, Pittsburgh 2-1, and Rochester 1-0. That is one of the toughest stretches they could face all season, and having Charleston come to town will only add to the difficulty.
Who's Playing Big: The Kickers have been lead by Matthew Delicate who has scored a goal in every match for the Kickers this year, and is making a case for USL Pro Player of the Year. The whole back line has been playing great as well. They've only given up 1 goal in their three matches.
Who Needs to Step Up: Honestly the whole Richmond squad is playing up to standard. If Delicate keeps scoring goals at the pace he is, and the back holds up well, we should see Richmond challenging for the USL Pro Championship.

What to Expect:
Charleston, as last they did last week, will come out in a 4-4-2. Here's my Starting XI:
Marples Wilson Zaher Falvey 
Mack Peverley Paterson Armstrong
Coleman Bah
Despite the awful goal he gave up last week, we should see Dykstra in goal again. Wiggans might not get a lot of playing time this year, because Dykstra has been playing well besides a couple of moments.

The back shouldn't change as all, and this 4 is  playing very well. Marples, Wilson, and Zaher all played solidly last week, and should be returning to the starting eleven. Falvey played great, and got forward enough so to get a crucial goal.

In the midfield we should see our strongest line up yet. Armstrong should return to the field after having last week off, and Peverley and Mack should also get starts after solid performances last week. Paterson should get the start as well, as I think he has had two straight good performances, including  his man of the match performance last week.

Up front we should see Levi Coleman for the 3rd time, but hopefully they'll let him play a little more. He should be getting at least 80 minutes a match, if not the full 90. I think that we should see Seedy Bah get another chance after last week. He didn't really get a chance to show off his speed and ability to connect with long balls because of last week's terrible conditions up in Dayton.

Richmond should come out in 4-4-2. Here is a possible line up:
William Kalungi Gorres Vercollone
Nyazamba Callahan Dos Santos Heins
Delicate Elcock
Richmond is a solid team. The back is solid, the midfield is solid, the front is solid, this is just a good team. Charleston will have trouble picking apart the back line of Richmond, but the main key to the game will be to keep control of Delicate. He's Richmond's biggest scorer so far, and if the Battery can stop him along with Elcock, they will have a chance of coming away from this match with some points.

For more information on Richmond  and their roster, check this.

These two teams are most likely the best in the league. If both teams play up to their potential, we should be seeing one of the best games of the year here.

This game will not be on USL Live, but it will be on the radio on 1340 AM in the Charleston area, or on the Battery's website.

Since this game is not going to be live on video, I won't be able to write as good of a recap as I have been. So I'll give you all a recap after the match, but it won't be as in depth.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nicki Paterson Makes USL Pro Team of the Week

Yesterday, the United Soccer Leagues announced their Team of the Week. Included on the 11 man team was the Charleston Battery's Nicki Paterson.

In last weeks match against the Dayton Dutch Lions, Paterson had one goal and one assist to lead the Battery to their second win of the season.

Here is the whole team:


Brock Duckworth     

Rob Valentino
Orlando City

Yomby William

Nelson Akwari
Los Angeles

Jorge Herrera

Luke Mulholland

Nicki Paterson

Lawrence Olum
Orlando City

Walter Gaitan
Los Angeles
Kolby LaCrone
Tamarley Thomas

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Highlights of the Charleston-Dayton Match

Here are the highlights I put together for last night's match against Dayton. Sorry about the poor and choppy quality, it was the best I could do.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

USL Pro: Week 3 Observations

After missing last week, I'm back for another edition of my weekly look at the results of the USL Pro's matches.

This weekend we had a huge slate of matches that started on Friday night with two matches, Rochester @ Richmond, and LA @ Sevilla FC.

Richmond defeated Rochester on Friday with another goal from Matthew Delicate. Delicate is making an early case for the USL Pro Player of the Year, as this is his 3rd goal in three games. The big surprise for Rochester would come on Sunday afternoon, but we'll get to that a little later.

The expansion LA Blues shocked the league when they went down to Sevilla FC and just demolished the hosts 3-0. This was a shock as many (including myself) had the Blues finishing in the lower half of the league.

On Saturday, the day was highlighted by torrential rains all across the east coast, postponing two games (Harrisburg @ Pittsburgh and Rochester @ Wilmington). Harrisburg and Pittsburgh are yet to reschedule this match, while Rochester and Wilmington would play on Sunday afternoon.

The two games that were played were Orlando City @ Charlotte and Charleston @ Dayton.

Orlando City traveled up to Charlotte to face the Eagles, who were playing their home opener. Orlando City showed that they are for real, and defeated Charlotte on a goal from Rob Valentino. Orlando City is making a strong case for a playoff spot.

Charleston headed up to Dayton, and defeated the Lions in their home opener 2-1. Here's a full recap.

On Sunday, we had the make up match between Wilmington and Rochester, as well as the Blues second game at Barracuda FC.

Wilmington gained their first points of the season in a 1-0 victory on a Luke Mulholland goal in the second half. This was the Rhinos second straight loss in 3 days.

The LA Blues gained their second win on Sunday night, on 2 set piece goals, against Antigua Barracuda FC. This was Barracuda FC's first game of the year, so it is no time for hitting the panic button.

Biggest Surprise: LA Blues winning their first 2 games
Los Angeles was looking at a brand new team, with brand new players, and in a brand new league. But they have taken the International Division over in their matches this week. Defeating two of the better Caribbean teams is no easy task. Especially when playing away for both matches.
Biggest Disappointment: Rochester Rhinos losing their first 2 games
Rochester was looking to win the National Division this year, but now their fans might have a little doubt. To lose their first two games without scoring a single goal is a cause for some concern. Now the first one wasn't a bad loss (Richmond looks to be one of the hottest teams in the league), but the loss to Wilmington isn't a good sign.
Player of the Week: Walter Gaitan-Los Angeles Blues
No questions here. Gaitan had 3 goals in his two matches with the Blues. His first goal came against Sevilla FC on Friday night in stoppage time, while his next two would come in their match with Antigua Barracuda FC. The first came off a free kick, while the second came from the penalty spot. LA needed to find someone who could consistently put the ball in the back of the net early this season, and I think they've found their man.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Charleston Holds off Dayton for Victory

Last night, through the wind and the rain, the Charleston Battery added to their point total for the year with a 2-1 win over the Dayton Dutch Lions.

The first half was played mostly in the midfield and the scoring chances that fell, fell for the Battery.

Charleston did well early earning a corner kick in the 1st minute. They couldn't capitalize on it, as the ball sailed over the box for a goal kick.

Starting forwards Seedy Bah and Levi Coleman were showing some good chemistry up front, but had trouble breaking through a tough Dayton back line. Bah broke through a couple of times, but Dayton keeper Jesper Leerdam did well getting off his line quickly to gather those balls that were played forward.

The Battery's back line played very well, and really played the balls forward to try to get the counter attack going. It was hard to play it forward quickly though, so not many chances came from it.

There was a lot to be learned during these rainy conditions. Both teams were trying to play long balls over the back line, but in these awful conditions, they would either get caught by the wind, hit the ground and skid away, or both.

Charleston figured out how to connect with each other early in the first half, while Dayton didn't really figure it out until the second half.

As Charleston continued to get in the attacking third, they earned multiple free kicks and corners.

Charleston's Evan Taylor took a free kick in the 27th minute from about 35 yards out. He made solid contact, but it sailed just over the bar.

Just a minute after that, Nigel Marples took a free kick from around 45 yards out. He crossed it in and some physical play caused a few Charleston players to get knocked down inside the box. They appealed for a penalty, but the official would have none of it.

At this point, it was obvious that neither team would score in the first half, and they wouldn't. We went into the half at 0-0.

In the first half, Charleston dominated the possession, but it was still a midfield game as both back lines were standing strong.

The second half started out great for the Battery.

A ball was played into the box, and Seedy Bah galloped onto the ball getting it to Nicki Paterson who would tap it in for Charleston's first goal of the game.

After their first goal, the Battery started getting forward with more confidence and making better passes.

Dayton would try to create more pressure, but their crosses weren't working out quite as they planned.

In the 55th minute, Seedy Bah received a ball from Nicki Paterson, and spun off his man for a turn around shot just outside the 18. It sailed just over the bar. So close in fact, that it hit the cross bar of the field goal posts that were up during the game.

In the 57th minute, Charleston would strike again.

Coleman worked the ball from the right side to Paterson at the top of the 18, who would slot it over to JC Mack on the right side who would pass back to Zaher, who earned a free kick. Nicki Paterson would step up to take the free kick from 25 yards out.

He crossed it in for Colin Falvey, who had come up for the free kick, who headed it in to the back of the net to put the Battery up 2-0.

8 minutes later in the 65th minute, Dayton would pull one back when Luciën Seymour sent a low cross into the box from the right side. Dykstra couldn't handle the cross and it popped out for Kolby Lacrone who easily gathered it and slotted it home.

Dayton would push men forward for the rest of the game, but couldn't find an equalizer, and Charleston would win the match 2-1.

Player Reviews:

Seedy Bah: Bah didn't play outstanding in his first start with the Battery. The game was mostly played in the midfield and he didn't get very many touches thew whole game. He did take some shots that were speculative, but he made them work. Because of the poor conditions, he couldn't really get any chances to receive balls that were sent over the top. It looks like he could be successful in the future with those. Overall a mediocre performance.
Levi Coleman: In the sense of getting touches and making plays on the ball, Coleman did much better than Bah. Coleman was a lot more active in the midfield, and got up and down the field a lot more. He still deserves a starting spot, but I'd like to see him take some shots on goal.
Nicki Paterson: Paterson had a great performance. He took all of the free kicks and corners well. Not to mention he had the first goal, and had the assist on the second. Great performance.
Cole Peverley: Peverley had another decent performance. The whole midfield was effective really, but Peverley moved the ball forward well, and actually had some nice tackles in the midfield to get the counter going. He seems to be better on sending long balls, but today he couldn't really send them over the top because of the poor conditions, which he adjusted to early and started to keep them on the ground.
Evan Taylor: Taylor is a confusing case. He showed that he could get shots from long range off and get them close, but he didn't really pass the ball very well. He wasn't making effective tackles and he got a yellow card in the 40th minute for a reckless tackle. He did show that he could take long throws well, and got a lot of those into the box. Dayton showed to be vulnerable on the long throws that Taylor sent in.
JC Mack: Mack played well today. He got some shots on target and put a lot of pressure on Dayton's back line. He worked the ball well to Coleman, and sent some nice long balls into Bah.
Nigel Marples: The whole back line played well, but Marples had a little trouble on defending the crosses. He didn't really help at all on the goal that Dayton had, but besides that he had a decent performance.
Colin Falvey: Falvey made his season debut for Charleston, and showed that he hasn't lost a beat from last year. He came forward for most of the set pieces, and got that goal. It was a great headed goal, and hopefully he'll continue to come forward for corners and free kicks in the future.
John Wilson: He's still got it. Wilson was again the best player on the back line. He had 2 crucial clearances in the first half that both looked to be goals. Wilson was again making great tackles all game and even went forward a little more than expected. Hopefully he'll keep this up.
Mike Zaher: Zaher really did well today. I liked the way he got forward and sent in some crosses. He should continue to get a starting spot if he continues this play.
Andrew Dykstra: Dykstra played well besides the one goal he gave up. The goal could be contributed to the bad weather, but he did lose a handle on the ball, which you just can't do. His highlight of the night was a crucial save he had in the 90th minute. Davis IV crossed in a ball for Seymour who headed it right at Dykstra. It looked like it could have gone through his legs, but Dykstra handled it and preserved the 3 points.
Dane Kelly: Kelly came in for Levi Coleman, and immediately got 2 straight offsides in 2 minutes. He's the kind of player that has so much potential, but is having trouble using his talents. He shows that he can use his pace to get around players, but gets their and doesn't really know what to do. When he can do that, he'll do great.
Zach Prince: Prince came in for Mack in the 69th minute. He was quite, but came on and helped the Battery preserve their lead. He had one nice tackle in the midfield, that stopped a quick counter by Dayton.
Kevin Jackson: Jackson came in for Evan Taylor in the 74th, and used his 16 minutes to play defensively and help run down the clock. In stoppage time, he and Nicki Paterson wasted the final four minutes over in one of Dayton's corners.
Brandon Massie: Massie came in for Bah in the 80th minute, and immediately made an impact. He had a shot from the left side that the keeper had to deflect into the side netting for a Charleston corner. He also took a corner or two.

Man of the Match: Nicki Paterson
No question here. Paterson had a great performance and showed that he deserves an everyday spot in the Starting XI. He took free kicks so well, got that goal, and the assist on Falvey's goal. We should see Paterson scoring a lot of goals, and getting many assists this season.

Overall it was a good performance by the Battery. I honestly think that Charleston is one of the best teams in the league. They have so many pieces that you need for a good side, and if they can put the pieces of the puzzle together, we'll be seeing a good finish for the Battery.

As for the lack of goals (really only 2 in the first 2 games considering we had one that was an own goal), I have this to say:

If you keep making good runs, you're tactically smart, you play hard, the goals will come. Its as simple as that.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Charleston Downs Lions 2-1

The Battery won their second game of the season tonight, away at the Dayton Dutch Lions. The final score was 2-1. Charleston's goals came from Nicki Paterson and Colin Falvey, while Dayton's one goal came from Kolby Lacrone.

I'll post my full recap of the match tomorrow, with my perspective on how the Battery performed, along with player ratings, and my selection for man of the match.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Preview: Charleston Battery-Dayton Dutch Lions

Last Saturday, the Charleston Battery won their 2011 USL Pro season opener 1-0 against the Charlotte Eagles. This Saturday they will begin a three-game road trip with a fixture with the Dayton Dutch Lions, who are playing their first game of the season. Here's what to expect:

Dayton Dutch Lions:
Last Year: In 2010, the Lions played their first season in the Great Lakes Division of the USL's Premier Development League. They finished 3rd in their division, missing the PDL playoffs. They were knocked out in the 1st round of the US Open Cup.
Who's Back: Since they are moving from the PDL (which is an amateur league) to the USL Pro, they couldn't bring all of the players from last year's team back for the 2011 season. They did keep a few, among these were Julius Wille, who was part of the FC Twente youth system, and Brett Jones who played formerly played for the Cincinatti Kings.
Who's New: The Lions obviously had to pick up a lot of player's for this season, and they were fairly successful in bringing some talent in. The back line looks solid, as they brought in the 2010 PDL Defender of the Year, Joe Tait, into Dayton. As well as Bahamian defender Happy Hall and Evan Schwartz, who was highly touted by many MLS teams, including Toronto FC. They picked up forward Kolby LaCrone, who looks to be a promising young prospect.

What to Expect:
The Battery will, again, come out in a 4-4-2. The Starting XI will probably look something like this:
Marples Wilson Zaher Dugoni
Prince Peverly Paterson Armstrong
Coleman Kelly
We should see Dykstra in goal this Saturday. He played fair against Charlotte, but got caught way off his line once, but luckily John Wilson was their to save the day (and Dykstra's starting job).

The back line should stay the same as last week. Marples and Zaher both had solid performances in the back and both got forward well. Wilson was the man of the match last week. He showed that he really hasn't lost a step, and honestly if we didn't have him to anchor our back, we'd be very shaky. Dugoni played well in his debut for the Battery, showing he could defend crosses well, and I see him starting again today. Colin Falvey is back for this match, I could see him coming in for Dugoni later in the game, but it wouldn't surprise me if he got the start.

Not many changes to the midfield. The only change I have from last week is Nicki Paterson for Kevin Jackson. Jackson just didn't play effectively enough for me, and Paterson had some great diagonal balls into the box late in the game. Armstrong, Prince, and Peverly all played well enough to get spots in the starting XI.

I was really pleased with Coleman's performance last Saturday. He kept the ball well, and showed that he could use his physical presence to make himself space. Kelly played well, creating some pressure throughout the game and showing off his speed, but seemed to have bad stretches occasionally where he couldn't keep the ball. A little more help coming from behind him, instead of the wings could help him a lot.

For Dayton, it looks like some variation of 4-4-2, possibly a diamond:
Copier Tait Hall Schwartz
Magill         Wille
Van der Pluijm
Davis IV Lacrone
We're looking at a fairly young team hear. The back line looks good, but inexperienced. The midfield should be strong with Wille and Magill working the ball forward. The diamond 4-4-2 will naturally open up the passing triangles for these young players to work it forward to Lacrone and Davis IV.

For more information on Dayton and their roster, check out this link.

Bottom line: Charleston could easily win this game. Playing your first road game of the season is always a learning experience, but with a young Dayton team (plus this being their opener), we could easily out-match and out-class them.

You can watch the game live on The kick off is set for 7:30 this Saturday, April the 16th.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Highlights and Full Game Film of the Charleston-Charlotte Match

Here's the highlight I put together of the Battery's match last Saturday against the Charlotte Eagles:
The full game is at USL Live as well.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Charleston Battery: Sean Flatley Signs, Wilson and Kelly Receive Awards

Former College of Charleston defender, Sean Flatley, has signed with the Charleston Battery for the remainder of the 2011 USL Pro Season.

Flatley, born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was a SoCon All-Conference First Team last year with the Cougars, and scored 6 points in his 20 appearances as a Senior. He transferred to Charleston after playing one year at the University of Maryland.

Flatley is a valuable asset to the Battery's back line. He performed well in this year's USL Combine, as well as Charleston's preseason matches.

Here's a short video on Flatley, with an interview and a short bio.

Earlier today, the USL announced their USL Pro Team of the Week. Though Richmond's Matt Delicate (deservedly) earned the award for Player of the Week, two players for Charleston earned spots on the Team of the Week.

Forward Dane Kelly and Defender John Wilson were both awarded for their performances in the Battery's game against Charlotte last Saturday.

Wilson had a great performance against the Eagles, with one spectacular goal-saving header on the line.

Kelly played well against Charlotte, and created the own goal that would give Charleston the win, when he crossed the ball into Charlotte's net off Mark Bloom.

Here is the rest of the Team of the Week (apparently they come out in a 4-3-3):

Miguel Gallardo     
Orlando City
John Wilson
Josh Rife
Ryan Roushandel
Sevilla FC PR
Luke Vercollone
Ben Horner
Owen Morrison
F.C. New York
Mauricio Turizo
Puerto Rico Utd
Matt Delicâte
Max Griffin
Orlando City
Dane Kelly

Charleston will be playing at Dayton this Saturday at 7:30. You can watch the game on

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Charleston Defeats Charlotte in Their Season Opener

Last night, in front of 4,083 spectators at Blackbaud Stadium, the Charleston Battery opened up their 2011 USL Pro campaign with a 1-0 win over the Charlotte Eagles.

The first 10 minutes of the match was dominated by Charlotte. Most of the possession was in Charleston's half, and the Eagles managed a couple of shots.

The Battery did have their chances though. Zaher and Coleman showed good chemistry in the 8th minute, when Zaher came down the left wing and had a good give and go with Coleman to give himself some space. He then crossed to Coleman, who was just outside of the 18 yard box, for a shot, but he couldn't get it on goal.

Charleston's arguably best chance of the first half came in the 13th minute, when Stephen Armstrong stepped up to take a free kick from about 20 yards out. His shot was deflected off the wall, but came out to Kevin Jackson for a volley that was saved by Eric Reed. Reed couldn't get a clean handle on the powerful shot, and it came out to Kelly who was caught offside.

Kelly and Coleman showed good chemistry with each other in the first half, and this would lead to some early opportunities that they couldn't capitalize on.

The first half was highlighted by Charlotte's opportunities on the counter attack. Charleston lost many balls in the midfield that led to quick counters by the Eagles, but they couldn't find the back of the net.

In the 41st minute came the Eagle's chance to take the lead.

After a scrum just outside of the 18, the ball came down to Moore who found Dykstra off his line. He attempted to chip Dykstra, but the Battery's John Wilson was on the line to make a jumping headed save. This was the play of the game.

Going into the half, the Battery showed some signs of promise, but Charlotte seemed to dominate possession. The play by Wilson gave Charleston some real momentum going into the half.

No teams made any changes to the line up coming out of the half.

Charleston went on the attack in the second half, getting some early crosses in. Zach Prince tried to receive one of these crosses, but committed a handball and got a yellow card.

Nicki Paterson came in for Zach Prince in the 56th minute, just as the game started to open up.

Finally, in the 58th minute the Battery broke through, when Dane Kelly got around his man on the right and ran onto goal. His attempted cross for Levi Coleman was deflected by Charlotte's Mark Bloom and into the net.

After the goal, Kelly really stepped his game up after playing poorly in the first half. The one thing that Kelly did that I didn't like was after he shot the ball off Bloom and into the net, he went over to the crowd pointing to his name on the back of his jersey.

Now I think that celebrating your goals in soccer is perfectly fine, but when you cross in a ball that hits off a defender and into the net, pointing at your name just makes you look like a cocky moron. I was happy that Charleston scored nonetheless.

Charleston and Charlotte would continue to make substitutions, and the Battery's defense held strong. They had many younger players step up and make crucial tackles in the last 30 minutes of the game to preserve this victory.

Charlotte's last chance was in the 88th minute, when a ball was crossed in from the right and into second half substitute Miguel Ferrer.

Ferrer had what looked to be an open shot on net, but he shot the ball off one of his own players and it went wide.

After 4 minutes of added time, the whistle blew and Charleston attained their first 3 points of this young USL Pro season.

Player Reviews:
Dane Kelly: Kelly created the only goal for Charleston, and after a slow start played he was very effective in the second half. In the first half he had trouble keeping the ball, and took some shots that were speculative to say the least. He showed how fast he is, getting around Charlotte's back multiple times, but being caught offsides a few times as well.
Levi Coleman: You could tell that Coleman had been playing with some of the veterans for awhile now, as he had some good passing with the experienced midfield. He showed his great pace throughout the 70 minutes he played, and earned Charleston multiple free kicks and throws in the attacking third.

Zach Prince: Prince showed a lot of confidence on the ball in the early goings, but trickled off towards the end of the first half and the time he played in the second half. I wanted him to be a little more effective on his passes, and he had trouble gathering a couple long balls that were supplied for him.
Kevin Jackson: Kevin showed that he still has it today. He didn't play outstanding, and lost a couple of balls in the center of the midfield (which seemed to be the theme of the night for the whole team), but he played well enough to stay in the starting eleven for next week.
Cole Peverley: Peverley was very effective in getting the ball forward from the back, and showed that he could cross the ball well. He had a couple of diagonal balls from near the half-way line that resulted in some chances for Charleston, and made some nice tackles as well.
Stephen Armstrong: Armstrong, as usual, had the best performance by a midfielder today. He was all over the place, making tackles in our own third, moving the ball forward down the wings, as well as supporting Coleman, Kelly, and Bah well up front.

Nigel Marples: Not much to say about Marples. The whole back line played outstanding, but Marples didn't do anything to special. A couple of decent clearances, and one or two crosses after getting forward.
Graham Dugoni: For his debut, Dugoni played very well. He did really well defending corners and crosses, having some great headed clearances to preserve the Battery's lead late in the game. He also came up for corners and got one shot on goal.
John Wilson: Wilson played magnificently. He had many tackles inside the 18, moved the ball forward the best of any of our defenders, and had that goal-stopping save off the line in the 41st minute. Wilson showed that he can still stand tall on the back line.
Mike Zaher: Zaher played very attacking today. The highlight of his play was a nice give-and-go with Coleman, on one of the few times that he got far forward.

Andrew Dykstra: Dykstra played pretty well today. Obviously, anytime you keep a clean sheet, your play will be considered a success, but Dykstra looked like a true keeper today. He had one major mistake, when he came off his line in the 41st minute, but Wilson saved him from giving up the goal.

Nicki Paterson: Paterson made his debut today, and took the half of an hour he played to put forward a couple of good long balls, and he fed Coleman well once, but Coleman took a shot that was well wide.
Seedy Bah: Bah came in for Coleman, and was quiet. He showed some decent play when teamed up with Kelly up front. Had one or two shots on target.
Brandon Massie: Came in for Stephen Armstrong and did well enough. He had one nice clearance to clean up a mess in Charleston's 18 yard box in the 81st.
Alex Caskey: Caskey replaced Jackson. He got very few touches, and didn't do anything of note.
Mark Wiltse: Wiltse was brought in for Kelly to add another defender to the group to preserve the Battery's lead late in the game. He had a fair clearance in added time.

Man of the Match: John Wilson
Wilson was the biggest player for either side today. The play he had to prevent the goal was huge, and gave the Battery so much momentum going into the second half. He moved the ball forward very well, and really led the back line.

Players: Andrew Dykstra, Nigel Marples, John Wilson, Graham Dugoni, Mike Zaher, Zach Prince (Nicki Paterson 57), Kevin Jackson (Alex Caskey 79), Cole Peverley, Stephen Armstrong (Brandon Massie 72), Dane Kelly (Mark Wiltse 89), Levi Coleman (Seedy Bah 69)
Shots (on goal): 13(6)
Saves: 2
Fouls: 8
Offsides: 5
Corners: 2
Cards: Prince 52nd (Yellow)
Players: Eric Reed, Mark Bloom, Jo Connor, Josh Rife, Luke Williams (Chad Smith 79), Alan Sanchez (Diego Matrins 60), Jorge Herrera, Walter Moore (Miguel Ferrer 72), Juan Guzman (Ben Page 66), Darren Toby, Sallieu Bundu (Chris Salvaggione 69)
Shots (on goal): 12(2)
Saves: 6
Fouls: 7
Offsides: 2
Corners: 5
Cards: Moore 70th (Yellow)

Charleston plays next Saturday, April 16th away, at the Dayton Dutch Lions.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Charleston Battery 1-0 Charlotte Eagles

Tonight the Charleston Battery defeated the Charlotte Eagles by a score of 1-0 at Blackbaud Stadium. Josh Rife scored an own goal off a Dane Kelly cross in the 58th minute. The Battery then held on for the remaining time to gain their first 3 points of the season.
Come back to SC Soccer Blog tomorrow for a full recap, player ratings, and more.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Preview: Charleston Battery-Charlotte Eagles

Well the Charleston Battery are returning for their 18th season of soccer in the Lowcountry.

The Battery start off their 24 game USL Pro season with a home fixture against their long time rival, the Charlotte Eagles. Here's a lowdown on what to expect from this game:

Charlotte Eagles:
Last Year: In 2010, Charlotte finished 4th in the USL Second Division, missing the playoffs by one spot. They were 7 points behind third place, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and 16 points behind Charleston who was in first.
Who's Back: Charlotte returns all 11 starters (plus 5 others) from last year's team, so chemistry should not be a problem. Greg Dalby and Josh Rife return to keep the midfield strong, along with a solid back line returning for the Eagles.
Who's New: One of the best pick-ups for Charlotte was the 2006 PDL Goalkeeper of the year Eric Reed. Reed helped the Cleveland City Stars win the 2008 USL-2 Championship, and he was with the Carolina Railhawks last year when they advanced to the USSF D2 championship. Forwards, Chris Salvaggione and Sallieu Bundu were also picked up in the offseason.

What to Expect:
The Battery will most likely come out in a 4-4-2. My prediction for the line up would be something like this:
Wilson Marples Zaher Falvey
Prince Peverley Jackson Armstrong
Coleman Kelly
Dysktra looks to be the number one option for goal right now. Wiggans is just going to have to wait and see how Dykstra performs. He'll get his chance eventually.

Not much to argue about on the back. That group is the most experienced, and best for that matter. Dugoni did play in the last preseason match against the Puerto Rico Islanders, but I give the edge to Falvey.
The midfield returns a lot of experience with Stephen Armstrong and Jackson, and Zach Prince and Cole Peverley have something to prove. Prince scored 1 goal in 16 appearances with the Battery, and is looking to capitalize on some consistent playing time this year. Peverley will be coming into his first season with the Battery, and is looking to be successful.

Up front we have Levi Coleman and Dane Kelly. Coleman is entering his second season with Charleston. Last year he scored 2 goals and had 2 assists in 16 appearances. Dane Kelly looks like the brightest young star on the Battery this year. The 20 year old was very successful in the preseason, scoring 2 goals (and drawing a crucial penalty against Toronto) in the preseason.

Charlotte will look to come out in a a 4-4-2 as well:
Bryant Bloom Smith Moore
Bryant Dalby Rife Herrera Page
Salvaggione Bundu
Newcomers Chris Salvaggione and Sallieu Bundu are look to be a dangerous duo up top, but Charlotte's main goal scoring threat seems to be Jorge Herrera, who had 22 goals for the Eagles in the last few seasons.

For more information on the Eagles roster, check out this link.

Now the Battery haven't lost a home game since September 6th, 2009, and I don't see that streak being broken by the Eagles. But it's a new season, so it's hard to tell what will happen.

You can watch the game on tomorrow at 7:30, or attend the game at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

USL Pro Week 2: What to Watch For

After a successful opening weekend of the inaugural USL Pro season, the second set of games is set to kick off this weekend. Bullet time:
  • Can Richmond continue their early success?: I would think so. Richmond dominated a solid Orlando City side last Saturday, and their attack is looking dangerous. Last week's USL Pro Player of the Week, Mike Callahan, returns to the line up for Richmond after an admirable effort last week. They will host the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Saturday, April 9th at City Stadium.
  • Will FC New York be successful this year?: An expansion franchise's first season is usually rough, even harder when you start from scratch. FC New York's debut will be down in the Citrus Bowl, when they play Orlando City SC this Saturday. New York is bringing a young team to the pitch this year, but have some experience in captain Paul Shaw, who played for many years over in England. City is looking to rebound off a loss to Richmond.
  • Can Puerto Rico United find chemistry early in the season?: We'll see what happens, but United is my choice for last in the International Division. Their whole team looks to be a mess, and especially so in the midfield. They will host Sevilla FC Puerto Rico, who played River Plate Puerto Rico level last weekend. Sevilla looks to have a team that could compete for an International Division Championship.
  • Will Charleston open up the season with a win?: Come back to the blog tomorrow for my preview and thoughts of the game.
Luckily, 3 of the 4 games this weekend will be broadcasted live on The only exception to this will be Richmond vs. Pittsburgh.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Real Salt Lake Advances to CCL Final, Plus Cobras News

First off, I'd like to give a big congratulations to Real Salt Lake, who are advancing to the Final of the CONCACAF Champions League.

This is a huge accomplishment, as they are the first MLS team to go to the Final since the LA Galaxy in 2000.

They advanced to the Final after defeating Saprissa on a 3-2 aggregate. Last night they had to go down to Saprissa (located in San Jose, Costa Rica), and defend a 2-0 lead.

Saprissa's Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá is a tough place to play in the least.

After Saprissa's first goal, the fans were shaking the stadium, and everything in it. If you were watching the TV broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel, you know what I mean.

Salt Lake lost 2-1 last night, but the 2-0 win they had at Rio Tinto Stadium would see them through.

Central SC Cobras FC will open their season of friendlies on Friday, May 6th at 7:00 PM against the Charlotte Lady Eagles.

Adult tickets are only $5 and kid's tickets are $2, so make sure to head out to that match in a couple of weeks.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Charleston Falls to the Islanders 1-0 in Final Preseason Match

Today, the Charleston Battery took on the Puerto Rico Islanders in their final preseason match of the season, at Blackbaud Stadium.

The Battery's Starting XI in the 4-4-2 was: Dykstra started in goal, with Wilson, Marples, Zaher, and Dugoni on the back, Armstrong, Jackson, Pervely, and Prince in the midfield, and Coleman and Kelly up front.

That is definitely a possible starting line up for the season opener this Saturday.

The game went into halftime with a 0-0 score line. One substitution was made in the first half, and that was Seedy Bah coming in for Levi Coleman late in the second half.

Keith Wiggans would come in for Andrew Dykstra, and Nicki Paterson would come in for Zach Prince.

Charleston's best chance would come in the 60th minute, when Dane Kelly would have a goal called back for offsides.

In the 63rd minute, Brandon Massie, unsigned Mark Wiltse, JC Mack, and Alex Caskey would come in for Dugoni, Kelly, Jackson, Wilson, and Armstrong. Evan Taylor would also come in for Peverly in the 70th minute.

In the 76th minute Matt Bouraee would score a goal for the Islanders, which would end up being the only goal of the game.

A disappointing result for the Battery, but not necessarily a bad loss. Charleston was looking to get as many players as possible, some playing time before their season opener this Saturday, when they will play host to the Charlotte Eagles. And in that sense it was successful.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Charleston Battery: The Week Ahead

The Charleston Battery will be very busy this week, with their preparations for the beginning of their 2011 USL Pro season.

It starts tomorrow, Tuesday, April 5th, when the Battery will host last year's USSF Division 2 Professional League Champions, the Puerto Rico Islanders, in the final preseason match of the season for the Battery.

The Battery have some history with Islanders, including a 2006 2-leg playoff series which the Battery won on a 3-2 aggregate. That included this amazing goal by Stephen Armstrong.

The game will be played at 5:30 PM at Blackbaud Stadium, and admission's free. Make sure to come out and support the Battery.

Then on Saturday, April 9th, we have Charleston's opening match of the 2011 USL Pro season, against the Charlotte Eagles. This game will also be played at Blackbaud Stadium, and kick off is set for 7:30 PM. The game will be broadcast live on

I'll be posting a preview of the game later this week, so watch out for that.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

USL Pro: Week 1 Observations

Well we have finished the first round of games for this brand new, USL Pro season. Yesterday we saw the Richmond Kickers take on Orlando City SC, and River Plate Puerto Rico play Sevilla FC Puerto Rico.

In the first game of the day, Richmond defeated Orlando City 2-0 in front of 1,650 spectators at City Stadium. The first goal came when Ryan Heins earned a penalty in the 39th minute. Stanley Nyazamba stepped up for Richmond and slotted it home. This would give Richmond a 1-0 lead at the half.

Richmond would dominate the chances in the second half, and the Kickers added to their tally in the 83rd minute, when Matt Delicate scored off a cross Sascha Görres. Richmond would walk off the pitch with their first win of the young season.

At 8:00 PM EST, River Plate hosted Sevilla FC in the first International game of the season, and this game proved to be the more exciting of the two. Sevilla opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, when Ryan Massoud connected with a cross from Erik Hort, which would send Sevilla in to the locker rooms with a half-time lead.

River Plate came out of the half swinging, and scored on a give-and-go between Peter Villegas and Matias Arce, with Villegas finishing to the left for an equalizer. Sevilla would take the lead in the 71st minute, when Nick Cardenas connected on another corner from Erik Hort.

The lead wouldn't last long, as Yaikel Perez headed in a cross from Julio Maya to tie the game at 2-2.

This would be the final score, as both teams would earn their first points of the season.

Here are some of my observations from this pair of games:
  • Richmond Leading the League: Well technically anyway. The Kickers came out and put it on Orlando City, and really just dominated the game. Richmond had 15 shots to Orlando's 5, and had 6 corners, to Orlando's 1. It really was a dominating performance by Richmond. Now we'll see how this game effects the standings at the end of the year, but head-to-head, it looks like Richmond's the better team.
  • International Division Could be a Close Race: Now that's a lot to take away from a 2-2 draw, but the sides looked to be even on the day. If you read my preview of the International Division, you'll see that I had Sevilla finishing 3rd and River Plate finishing in 1st. We'll see how Barracuda FC play, but we could see a very tight race in the International Division.
  • USL Live Successful Debut: The River Plate-Sevilla FC game was the first game to be broadcast live on I'm happy to see this being successful, and hopefully we can see this carried on to the seasons ahead.
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