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:
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
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
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 USLLive.com tomorrow at 7:30, or attend the game at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina.
If you need to contact me, e-mail me at SCSoccerblog@gmail.com.