Friday, March 2, 2012

United lift Coffee Pot Cup

The Charleston Battery had another strong performance against D.C. United during Wednesday's game in the Carolina Challenge Cup.  Having beaten Chicago 1-0 in the opening match, D.C. have all but lifted the CCC trophy for the third straight year with a 3-1 win over Charleston.  With a win or draw this Saturday, the Eagle's will have taken the Cup three years running.

The stands were not nearly as crowed as last Saturday's match, but the Battery faithful still managed good numbers and a great atmosphere for both games.  In the early fixture, Chicago edged out the Crew 1-0.  Frederico Puppo's late strike put the Fire on top late in the second half.  A good game for sure, but most fans were waiting for the battle over the Coffee Pot Cup.  D.C. United first played against the Charleston Battery in the Third round of the 1999 Open Cup.  Charleston shocked D.C. with a thrilling 4-3 upset in extra time to oust them from the competition.  The US Soccer Federation hailed it as 'one of the biggest upsets ever seen in American soccer history ...'  So these MLS big shots were so frustrated that they trashed the visitor's dressing room...the most notable damages were crimes committed against a certain coffeepot.  Hence the Coffee Pot Cup was born!!  Each time the two teams meet, the victor is awarded this fan trophy.  But on to the match...

The game was lively enough as there are usually some fierce on-field battles when the two collide.  United made the scoresheet first when Maicon Santos found the net in the 13th minute.  Boskovic with the assist, let him strike near post giving the visitors the lead.  Despite the deficit, Charleston played with authority, by no means surrendering their home-field advantage.  The Battery held possession for much of the first half and had several good opportunities on goal.  Charlie Romero provided great offensive impetus with some dangerous crosses and powerful shots of his own.  It also seems that the Battery has found a new midfield maestro in likes of Jose Cuevas.  Scoring in the 28th minute, the latest addition to the squad now has two goals in as many matches for Charleston.  Mark Wiltse threaded his cross into the box, allowing Cuevas to smash home the goal.  D.C. responded quickly and netted a header goal to preserve their lead going into the break.

The second half saw several Battery substitutions and the run of play was more back and forth.  Former Battery GK Andrew Dykstra debuted for his new club and was largely responsible for blanking the Battery in the second half.  Charleston's ambitions were dealt a blow when Wiltse was sent off in the 77th for a dangerous tackle.  Reduced to ten men, the Battery held on but succumbed to another United goal only three minutes from time.  So D.C. took the CCC and the Coffee Pot Cup...but maybe we'll see a rematch later this summer!

In spite of the scoreline, this was yet another promising display from the Battery.  The offense looked incredible in the first half and its obvious that our returning players are working well with the new recruits.  There were a few defensive lapses in the second half, but considering the number of subs, the red card, and conditioning this early in the preseason, there's no cause for alarm.  Also, I believe we've seen no less than three keepers so far in goal for Charleston.  Who will lead the team between the sticks??  The Carolina Challenge Cup concludes Saturday as United square off against the Crew in the early game.  Then the Battery will attempt to put out the Fire and finish the Cup in second place!!  We're only three games in and Charleston's preseason in heating up!!  Go Black and Yellow!!

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