The Week That Was
Winning will never get old. That is a fact. It was Week 3 for the USL and the result mirrored the first two weeks, a Charleston victory. The Battery, USL affiliate of the Houston Dynamo, find themselves at the top of the table in the USL with 9 points through 3 matches. This week's contest against the Philadelphia Union's USL affiliate, Harrisburg City Islanders, was the club's first shutout of 2015. The first half was riddled with scoring opportunities for Charleston, but none could find twine as we went to the locker rooms at 0-0. That changed in the 60th minute, when Ricky Garbanzo set a pass out to Heviel Cordoves streaking down the left side of the pitch. The Cuban forward, starting in place of Dane Kelly for the second week in a row, was able to outpace his marker and tap a ball on the ground past the keeper for his 3rd goal of the season and he follow it up with a nearly equally entertaining celebratory dance. With usual starter Dane Kelly then coming on for Cordoves, Maikel Chang kept his campaign of great assisting rolling as he found Kelly in the box with some room. And a man with that type of scoring pedigree often makes the defense pay, which the Jamaican forward did with a smooth left footed strike past the keeper for a 2-0 lead. Usually if your keeper makes very few saves, it means your defense played well. This was certainly the case against Harrisburg City as Odisnel Cooper only had to make one save on the evening. This effort surely pleased not only El Gato but also Coach Anhaeuser, whose goalkeeper led the league in saves heading into this past week.
Charleston- 2 Harrisburg City- 0
Goals: Cordoves 60', Kelly 69'
The Good Guys- Charleston Battery (3-0-0)
Just like Week 1 & 2, the USL Team of the Week featured a Battery player in its starting 11. This week was midfielder Justin Portillo, who was lauded for his part in the Battery high pressure attack in Saturday's victory. Heviel Cordoves, an honorable mention selection for TOTW, has done a more than admirable job starting in place of Dane Kelly, as he recovers from being banged up. He has notched 3 goals in those two starts and has tested the keeper countless other times, a result of his constant pressure on the attack. The Battery are up 3 points on a handful of teams in the Western Conference, but hold a 5 point lead in their own Eastern Conference. As expected with a first place team, they have multiple players in the top spots in statistics with Chang leading the USL in assists and Cordoves leading in points.
The Hired Guns
Memo Rodriguez, Dynamo Homegrown product and loanee, entered for Ricky Garbanzo in the 74th minute. He put a solid shot on the net but could't find his first USL goal. Known as a defensive midfielder, Memo has been playing more of a attacking central midfield or even a withdrawn striker role, but bringing his defensive mind set to the position over the offensive minded Garbanzo. Rodriguez has done a great job in his appearances, keeping the heat on the man on the ball and pushing the possession when it seems fit. He has done a great job earning minutes and the trust of the staff on a first place USL team in his first professional season. We are still awaiting the regular season Battery debut for rookie Oumar Ballo.
The Heart Hankers For Home Cookin'
As I chatted with Jamaican striker Dane Kelly after the match Saturday, we got to discuss his beautiful native country. Amongst the top things he misses: His family, his friends and his food. I can only assume his friends and family are incredible people, but as a man who has tried Jamaican specialty jerk chicken, I can personally sympathize with that void in his life!