The Slump Buster
Yes ladies and gentlemen, the Charleston Battery won. To quote the late, great Sam Cooke, it's been a loooooooong, long time coming. Their last win was back in mid July. The club traveled to Richmond on Saturday for a high stakes match for playoff position with the Kickers. The Kickers came out aggressive in front of a packed home crowd and actually out shot Charleston 6-4 in the first half. Unfortunately for Richmond, 2 of Charleston's 4 shots found the net. The first came on a penalty kick by Justin Portillo, awarded after DC United loanee keeper Travis Worra committed a foul in the box. The second was a strike from Zach Prince off a beautiful find by Quinton Griffith. The second half often featured a barrage of offense by the Kickers trying to level the score. Unfortunately for Richmond, El Gato was on his A-game. Odisnel Cooper allowed no goals, though the chances were there. His official line noted five saves, but Cooper made countless strong defensive plays. His athleticism as he snatched up Richmond crosses drew high compliments from the Kickers broadcast team. Even the Kickers aggressive formation and substitutions in the second half couldn't conquer Cooper Saturday night.
The Good Guys: Charleston Battery (10-6-9)
The Battery moved ahead of Richmond in the playoff standings, making it a 2-way tie for 3rd with the New York Red Bulls II. Charleston was well represented on this week's USL Team of the Week. Odisnel Cooper and Shawn Ferguson were selected on the first team after their impressive clean sheet victory Saturday. Zach Prince made the squad as a reserve after his impressive goal and strong physical play against the Kickers. The Battery will be without four players this week: 2 due to injury, 2 due to international duty. Obi Woodbine and Austin Savage are both working their way back from lower body injuries, knee and ankle respectively. Woodbine says he is feeling better and is anxious to return once he is fully healed to help his team in the stretch run. Both Savage and himself are working extremely hard to recover and help the team's playoff push. Quinton Griffith and Sebastien Thuriere will be missing this week as they help their countries in qualifying matches. Griffith captains the Antiqua and Barbuda's Benna Boys. Thuriere plays for his mother's homeland Haiti. He expressed to me his excitement, saying it's always an honor to represent on the national side. Both players will be missed, as Thuriere is a top quality sub and Griffith has been providing his usual incredible pace from his deep fullback position.
The Bad Guys: Pittsburgh Riverhounds (10-9-5)
Yet again, Charleston faces a team fighting for its playoff lives. Currently sitting at the precarious 6th and final playoff slot, the Riverhounds only lead in-state rivals Harrisburg City by 1 point. Pittsburgh's lead leading scoring is done primarily by Liverpool born Rob Vincent, he is 2nd in the USL with 18 goals on the season. After a loss to Louisville FC on Saturday, the Riverhounds will certainly be hungry for a much needed victory at home.
The Dirty Details
September 5th at Highmark Stadium 7pm
Watch it live on the Riverhounds Youtube Channel.
The Hired Gun
Despite my urging on Twitter, Memo Rodriguez was not subbed in late in the match at Richmond. However, the Houston Dynamo loanee is sure to be one of the first choices off the bench this week as fellow midfielder Thuriere will be on international duty.