The Week That Was
Last Wednesday, Charleston took on the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in the third round of the US Open Cup. While Ft. Lauderdale has not fared well in their NASL season, they came to Blackbaud Stadium with intentions to upset. They were on the right track, with Bruno Nunes finding the net in the first 7 minutes of the match. The Battery tied it up around the 30th minute when a cross from Navion Boyd slid passed both the GK and Dane Kelly, but did not get passed Ricky Garbanzo, as the rookie put the shot in from inches away. The tie did not hold long as the Strikers again found a first half goal, this time via the foot of Dani Sanchez. Still trailing by a goal as the second half pressed on, the Battery showed size doesn't matter, as they substituted 5'3 Dante Marini in for 6'5 giant Forrest Lasso. As usual, Coach Mike Anhaeuser made the right move, as Marini found Dane Kelly, who found Zach Prince for the equalizer. Around the 80th minute, the Battery took the match on a beautiful ball from Garbanzo to Kelly, who found the net and advanced the Battery to Round 4. "Cool Runnings" Dane Kelly frustrated Ft. Lauderdale all match with his elite speed and top class effort, resulting in a series of hard tackles on the forward later. When I asked how he felt about it after the match, he asserted that they were probably wise to do so, because he may have had a hat trick if not. I can't help but agree. The Battery now advance to host Orlando City SC on June 17th in the next round of the USOC15. Check out the match highlights HERE.
As last week was another dual match week, the Battery were back in action a few days later as they hosted Wilmington FC at home wearing their Military Night kits. Again despite their league play woes, another Charleston opponent came for the win. A very aggressive Hammerheads club tried to force the action and take advantage of a visibly fatigued Battery club. The only scoring came in the 18th minute, when set piece go to man Justin Portillo found the back of the net on a PK. No further scoring occured, even with Wilmington losing a man to a red card in the 37th minute. The Battery were truly happy to just secure three points at home after such a tough stretch of matches. Check out the highlights HERE.
The Good Guys: Charleston Battery (6-1-4)
The Battery still find themselves in a favorable 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, trailing only the Rochester Rhinos by 3 points. This week the club was represented by Taylor Mueller and Justin Portillo on the USL Team of the Week. Mueller led a top notch defensive effort in the clean sheet victory vs. Wilmington. Portillo scored the only goal and proved he is Mr. Cool stepping up to take a PK. The club auctioned off each player's Military Night jersey for a good cause and I for one, loved those kits!
The Bad Guys: Wilmington Hammerheads FC (1-6-3)
Long time no see Wilmington! After a 1-0 defeat to the Battery this past Saturday, the NYCFC affiliate club returns home to host Charleston on June 6th, in hopes of gaining momentum as the season rolls on with a victory. The Hammerheads played a spirited match in Charleston last week and we will have to see if they continue that aggressive mindset in front of their home crowd.
The Dirty Details
6/6 At Legion Stadium. 7:30pm kickoff
Watch it live HERE
The Hired Gun
Memo Rodriguez was not in attendance for the Ft Lauderdale match as he was summoned back to Houston in anticipation of the Dynamo's match against Manchester City. As we know, that match didn't take place, but Memo was back in Charleston and back on the pitch against Wilmington. As usual, he provided a spark off the bench with strong defensive pressure and a few creative passes in the attacking area.
The Cool Runnings
Dane Kelly leads the club in goals in the 2015 season, just as he did in the 2014 campaign. "Cool Runnings" combines a blazing pace, constant pressure and a knack for the net around the goal. The Jamaican forward should be on the radar of any MLS club. As a fellow 24 year old, I respect the attitude and mindset Dane has. As we chatted for awhile following the Strikers match, he reassured me, all you can do is work hard. He knows the right things happen at the right time, so he will continue to work on his craft, and continue to improve and someday, an MLS club will strike gold when they make a move for Dane Kelly. But for now, any soccer fans in the Charleston area or in another USL city, go check out the Battery and #9 because he and his club bring exciting futbol wherever they play.