Finally ladies and gentlemen, we reach Week 1 of the regular season. Based on the success of the preseason, optimism should be the tone as the Charleston Battery, 2015 USL affiliate of the Houston Dynamo, do battle with the brand new Toronto FC II side. Since this is week one, you will be seeing my game week set-up. And yes, of course, the default weekly headings will be Seinfeld styled.
The Good Guys- Charleston Battery (0-0)
Following a preseason which saw the Battery post a 7-1-2 record, hopes are high entering the regular season. Another key of any sport's preseason is health. The Battery were superb in that fashion as well, sporting no major injuries to the club entering the regular season. A lot of familiar faces return to Blackbaud Stadium this year such as mainstays like Quinton Griffith, Jarad van Schaik and of course "El Gato" goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper. 2014 newcomer of the year Justin Portillo has continued his development with his smooth passing in the midfield and forward Austin Savage was a very pleasant surprise as a goal-scoring threat in the friendlies. The MLS's Houston Dynamo have loaned midfielder Memo Rodriguez and defender Oumar Ballo to Charleston, you can read more about them below in The Hired Guns. Two other notable additions are Sebastien Thuriere, a talented defensive midfielder who the Battery are incredibly excited about and Forrest Lasso, a legit 6-4 backline rookie out of Wofford. Ricky Garbanzo is another rookie to keep an eye on, finding the net multiple times this preseason after his career at Coastal Carolina concluded. As usual Mike Anhaeuser will be the one calling the shots for Charleston, primarily implementing a 4-2-3-1 set.
The Bad Guys- Toronto FC II (0-0)
Scouting is a huge part of soccer and sports in general. Scouting is hard to do when you don't know who you are lining up against. Toronto FC II begins their tenure in the USL this season and have not fully announced their roster. They may never have a set in stone club with the loan system being so fluid, but they are expected by many to be very talented despite their predicted youth. Rest assured, one thing I am 99.9% certain of is, we will not see Toronto FC star Jozy Altidore suited up for the club's USL side.
The Dirty Details
7:30 PM EST Kickoff
Streamed via the Charleston Battery YouTube channel
The Hired Guns
As I mentioned above, the Houston Dynamo loaned rookie defender Oumar Ballo and Homegrown midfielder Memo Rodriguez to Charleston. Both arrived late last week, getting to play in both of the Battery's last preseason friendlies. Rodriguez provides another skillful, creative passer in the midfield. Ballo adds great athleticism to the backline with Battery staff members already impressed with his skill in the air and they believe he may even be able to play a good bit of time as an outside back rather than strictly a CB as some project him. I'll keep you posted each week on their play specifically in this section.
The Week That Was
W 2-0 vs Clemson
Goals- Savage and Garbanzo
W 3-2 Carolina Railhawks
Goals- Boyd, Portillo (PK), Garbanzo
The Sense of Humor
I asked Cuban born Maikel Chang if he allowed fellow Cuban Odisnel Cooper to prepare him Cuban dishes while in Charleston. Chang said yes so I followed up by asking if El Gato is a better cook or goalkeeper. A very emphatic goalkeeper response by Chang!