Friday, March 30, 2012

More Results, More Recruits!

With only days before the start of the USLPRO regular season, the Charleston Battery has been hard at work fine tuning the squad with preseason fixtures and player signings.  If you missed any news, here's all the latest:

Preseason Match Results

Coastal Carolina 0-1 Charleston Battery

In a midweek scrimmage at Myrtle Beach, the Battery outdid the likes of CCU winning one goal to nil.  Charleston scored just before halftime as Charlie Romero converted a corner kick from teammate Jose Cuevas.  The two have combined nicely several times throughout the preseason and look to be a feisty scoring tandem in the upcoming season.

Charleston Battery 0-2 Wilmington Hammerheads

The Low Country boys suffered a defeat against their derby foes from just up the road.  The Hammerheads struck early capitalizing on an early chance inside the six yard box.  Wilmington netted again in the second half with a deflection from a Battery defender.

Carolina Railhawks 0-1 Charleston Battery

One goal at the quarter-hour mark was enough to clip the wings of the Railhawks at WakeMed Stadium Thursday afternoon.  Midfielder Amadou Sanyang cleaned up a Cuevas corner to put Charleston ahead. The Battery survived a second half surge from the Hawks and our defense stood tall.  Kyle Hoffer managed a critical headed save to keep the Battery in front.  Coach Anhaeuser was very pleased with the squad's performance in their final preseason tangle, commenting on a solid backline as well as plenty of energy upfront.

New Player Signings:

Bundu at Blackbaud to stay
Sallieu Bundu
Coming from Sierra Leone, Bundu is a gifted striker with fantastic USL experience.  Debuting for the Cleveland City Stars in 2008, he scored the game winner in the USL-2 Championship match.   Moving up, Bundu joined the ranks of the Railhawks the following year.  After several years with the Hawks, he spent the past season on loan with the Charlotte Eagles.  Fleet of foot and smart in front of goal, Bundu will prove a valuable asset to the Battery's strike force.  Paired with the quickness of Dane Kelly, who knows how many goals the two will tally this year!

Alec Kann
Kann makes a save in the CCC
This goalkeeper comes to Charleston from Furman University.  A four year starter between the sticks, the lad looks a promising talent and good addition to the line-up.

Kevin Klasila
Another keeper fresh out of college, the LA native was picked up by Coach Anhaeuser at the Ventura County Fusion Combine earlier this year.  With an impressive trial in Charleston, Klasila's steady hands will add depth to a loaded Battery defense.  

Tony Donatelli
With a rich experience throughout the continent, Donatelli will bring a commanding presence to Charleston's midfield.  He is no stranger to trophies having won the '06 USL-1 title with the Vancouver Whitecaps.  Donatelli was traded after three years to the Montreal Impact, and subsequently led his team to victory, scoring as Montreal defeated his former club, the Whitecaps, in the '09 USL-1 Championship match.  Earning a call up from the San Jose Quakes in 2011, the Pennsylvania native eventually signed with the Rochester Rhinos.  With the departure of Mike Zaher (to the Rhinos, in fact) Donatelli will add composure and experience in the middle of the pitch.  
Donatelli in action for the Impact
Ryan Richter
Richter was drafted last year by the Philadelphia Union but made his professional debut for the Harrisburg City Islanders.  Featuring against the Battery last summer, the midfielder has since changed allegiances and joined Charleston.

Cody Ellison
Teammate of Jose Cuevas with the PDL's Fresno Fuego, Ellison joins the Battery midfield after impressing after an invitation to player trials.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

MLS Rewind: Week 3

"Zip it"
Seattle Sounders 2-0 Houston Dynamo
The boys in rave green are getting the right results.  Another dominant performance in front of another sellout crowd at CenturyLink Field proves that the Sounders are clearly one of the heavyweights in Major League Soccer.  Estrada bagged his fourth of the season, rifling home a wayward clearance.  Scoring from a good distance, the newfound hero was assisted by a deflection from the Dynamo defense.  Brad Evans converted a penalty only minutes later, the result of an awkward foul in the box.  Seattle are looking sharp and had their finishing been a touch more polished, the score would've been four or five nil easily.  Houston's stern backline were not themselves and the offense tested the Sounders GK perhaps only twice (if that).  Confident football from the Sounders.

Toronto FC 0-3 San Jose Earthquakes
TFC got their butts handed to them Saturday afternoon in their home opener at BMO Field.  The Reds lost their lynchpin, Tornsten Frings, to injury last week against Seattle.  And a day before the match, lost their starting keeper to broken leg in a training accident.  It was all wrong from the beginning.  Chris Wondolowski had already scored before ten minutes had elapsed.  With so many alterations, the hosts failed to find the cohesiveness and fluidity that twice punished the Galaxy less than a fortnight ago.  The Quakes were rolling after the early goal had to wait for their second until shortly after the restart.  Before it was over, Wondo completed his brace with a good effort that encapsulated San Jose's evening.  Unfortunately, things are looking pretty grim for Toronto as they await their tangle with deadly Santos in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Columbus Crew 2-0 Montreal Impact
Well, Montreal can't win for losing...or so it would seem.  The start of the game was very promising indeed for the Impact, but after some poor officiating early on, Columbus were practically handed the game in a gift basket.  That's not to say they didn't earn the goals, but had the Crew stumbled here, it would've raised some serious questions about their potential this season.  The Impact had a player sent off early for what seemed to be a 50-50 challenge.  Shortly after, the Crew were awarded a penalty for a less than convincing foul inside the area.  The Crew took the goal and pressed their advantage in numbers.  Ricketts' in-goal heroics kept the visitors in the fight, but Montreal could simply not keep up.  Early in the second half, Vargas netted an incisive header to finish out the scoring.  The Impact nearly scored with three minutes in regulation but it proved too little too late.  Solid result from Columbus, but they had plenty of help from the man in black.

New England Revolution 1-0 Portland Timbers
Saer Sene was the man of the match, earning the title after only twenty-eight seconds.  The Revs' front man utilized the underside of the bar to head in an early early goal and  New England were able to see off the pressure, foiling another Timbers comeback.  It was the perfect start for the Revolution at home as they showed some pluck in snatching the quick goal and tenacity by thwarting a well balanced Portland team.

Chicago Fire 1-0 Philadelphia Union
This one was all Chicago.  The Fire played like a team with something to prove and their attack is starting to come together.  Oduro's headed goal was fantastic, but he and his teammates definitely should've had a few more.  Philly had better snap out it...and quick.  The fans aren't happy, the team isn't happy...Peter Nowak had better figure things out quick before someone else gets the chance.    

Real Salt Lake 0-1 Chivas USA
Surprise! Surprise!!  What happened??  Kudos to the Goats, wins at the Rio Tinto don't come easy.  While RSL controlled much of the match, they squandered most of their scoring opportunities.  And when the Chivas found the net so late in the game, the wheels came off for Real.  Everyone panicked and they were fortunate to end the game only one goal down.

Vancouver Whitecaps 0-0 DC United
In football, there's usually a lot more to the story than simply the score.  Not so here.  In terms of entertainment, competition, or humor, this match earned a zero ranking...two of them, actually.  Maybe it was just an off day for the Caps but DC United always seems to be bursting with hype before the season starts...when it comes to getting results they are desperately lacking.

New York Red Bulls 4-1 Colorado Rapids
Henry + Cooper = Double Brace!
WHAT DID I TELL YOU?!?  The Red Bulls reinvented their lineup, starting Kenny Cooper alongside Thierry Henry.  Adding Marquez in the midfield with some other minor changes and this looked like an entirely different team.  Granted, the Rapids were easy pickin's with three crucial starters absent, New York decimated Colorado, going two goals up in under six minutes.  The game had really just begun when Henry seized upon a poor backpass and exploded the goal moments later.  Next it was Kenny Cooper's turn, with good position and perfect ball placement made fools of the Rapids was a long afternoon for them anyhow.  In the second half, Omar Cummings had a brilliant strike, chipping the keeper from a long ways out.  The only problem with the goal is that is was bookended by Henry's second shortly after the restart and Cooper's brace and the end of the game.  TH14 almost had a hat trick in stoppage time, but for once the defense actually managed to keep it out.  This is what New York are capable of.  The Red Bulls should be posting these results every week, but then again, consistency has always been their biggest enemy.  Colorado won't take the loss to heart, they'll be themselves again when the missing pieces are back in the lineup.

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 FC Dallas
This match was a prime example of what MLS is all about.  Spirited play by both sides and an even match between the two.  Livestrong Park was silenced in the 25th minute as Villar effortlessly beat the wall on a set piece and put FCD on top.  Set piece revenge helped Sporting level things deep into stoppage time of the first half.  After the break it was a free-for-all.  Kansas City enjoyed more chances on goal.  They also enjoyed wasting most of them.  In the end, Kei Kamara proved the deciding factor, finishing a slick run of passes and sliding in a goal with two minutes to spare.  It was atonement for a failed penalty, saved earlier by Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman.  Hartman had an incredible night, and save after save, he kept his in the match til the 88th minute.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MLS Rewind: Week 2

It was another exciting week in Major League Soccer, and this time the results were a little more predictable.  The real powerhouse teams got all the right results, and the league's perennial strugglers got what they deserved.

Its also worth mentioning the CONCACAF Champs League games at midweek as well; Toronto beat LA 2-1 on the road to oust the reigning MLS champs from the tournament and Seattle got whalloped 6-1 in Mexico.  That means Toronto FC are the only MLS side left!

But on to the weekend's league games, here's the recap:

Montreal Impact 1-1 Chicago Fire
Davy Arnaud was the Impact's hero as the expansion side earned their first goal and first point of the season.  Over 58,000 filled Montreal's Olympic Stadium and were singing and chanting the full 90 minutes.  It was a big day for the new boys and there seems to be plenty of football pride and culture just north of the border.  The Fire earned their point as well, with Oduro equalizing in the 71st minute.  The draw seemed a fair result.

San Jose Earthquakes 0-1 Houston Dynamo
The Dynamo are lucky to still have Brian Ching.  The MLS vet drew a penalty fifteen minutes on and Davis' conversion was the only goal of the match.  Houston's stubborn defense may just take them somewhere this season.  They're already looking much better than last year.   The Quakes?...well, this was uninspiring stuff from San Jose.

FC Dallas 1-1 Portland Timbers
Dallas brought the attack early on and the pressure payed off.  Scoring in the 22nd minute, Blas Perez cleaned up a nice strike from the academy kid Leyna.  Something tells me we're going to see Perez dancing all over the highlight reels this season.  The Timbers bounced back and launched a series of their own assaults with several near misses and an unlucky bounce off the left post.  Capitalizing on a defensive error just after the break, Nagbe erased the Hoops advantage with an equalizer for the Timbers.  There were several more good cracks by Portland and were it not for Hartman's efforts in goal for Dallas, we'd see a very different scoreline.

Sporting KC 3-0 New England Revolution
In their 2012 home opener, Kansas City eased by a complacent Revs side that played almost the entire match with only ten men.  A rather harsh red card decision left New England a man down only fourteen minutes into the match.  From that point on, it seemed as if GK Matt Reis was the only Revs player who cared about winning...or even playing for that matter.  Poor, poor defense from NE allowed Sporting far too much room and the hosts made good use of the numerical advantage.  Zusi grabbed the first goal with an amazing second effort from the ground, Kamara headed in the second, and two minutes after the restart Sapong netted the third.  Late in the game, Sapong had a great one-on-one opportunity with the keeper, but failed to make the most of the chance.

Real Salt Lake 2-0 New York Red Bulls
Despite being one of the most expensive sides in MLS, New York have very little to show for it.  Kicking off the season at Rio Tinto, RSL overpowered one of the league's "money" teams for the second consecutive week.  The Clarets looked unstoppable on the evening, always threatening to attack.  Espindola might be the most dynamic player in this league, scoring the first goal and sparking the second early after halftime.  New York really need to start Kenny Cooper alongside Henry, and build their strategy around the talent up top.  Good show by RSL; at home or away, they're ensuring any tangle with a Western conference team will not be an easy one.

Estrada ecstatic with his three goal tally
Seattle Sounders 3-1 Toronto FC
A young man by the name of David Estrada set Centurylink Field ablaze Saturday night.  A brilliant bit of tifo by the Emerald City Supporters set the tone for the match and a brilliant game of football followed.  Unfortunately for the Reds, the early loss of Tornsten Frings will prove far more costly than surrendering the three points.  Alvaro Fernandes supplied the in form striker as Estrada celebrated "St. Hat-trick's Day" in style.  Ryan Johnson notched an impressive goal in the sixty-second to make the score 2-1, but it was too little too late as Estrada iced the cake with his third goal less than a minute later.  Despite the surprising midweek blowout, this was a convincing show by the Sounders.

Chivas USA 0-1 Vancouver Whitecaps
The Caps secured their first ever road win in a soggy affair at the Home Depot Center.  An embarrassingly low attendance was treated to a much sharper performance by the Goats.  Vancouver Captain Jay Demeritt scored the lone goal at sixty-eight minutes with a diving header. It was a big milestone for the Whitecaps whose lagging road form plagued them all last season.  Despite the low scoreline, this was an excellent contest...pity that no one was there to see it.

Philadelphia Union 1-2 Colorado Rapids
The Union suffered an unfortunate loss in their home opener against the Rapids.  Philly controlled play for the majority of the first half and had several great strikes.  Danny Mwanga led the charge with an impressive individual performance.  The second half was full of action as the Union continued to control the game.  However, Colorado snatched a quick strike but was soon reduced to ten men after an absurd challenge by Jeff Larentowicz.  The Rapids then grabbed another goal in defiance of the deficit.  Philly would initiate a comeback recovering one score but they simply ran out of time.  The Union are still coping with some major changes from the offseason and have yet to find balance in their squad.

LA Galaxy 3-1 DC United
Not unlike Seattle, the Galaxy rebounded from midweek defeat and put on a fine show for their fans.  Robbie Keane notched a brace, scoring on either side of the break and Sarvas added another near the end.  DC United made the scoresheet with an incredible strike from distance by rookie Nick De Leon, but it was far short of what was required to top Los Angeles.  DC seem to play as if they are still in preseason camp, while it looks LA have finally gotten the ball rolling in the right direction.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Preseason Progress

The Charleston Battery has been busy in preparation for the kickoff of the 2012 season.  The Pride of the Lowcountry just finished another round of preseason matches with some promising results.

Charleston Battery 2-2 Coastal Carolina University

It was a good show by the home side with plenty of tinkering in the lineup.  Charleston dominated play for most of the match and had some good opportunities on goal.   There were several new faces and lots of talent out on the pitch.

Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0 Charleston Battery

Its always disappointing to fall to an old rival, but there's certainly more to the story here than simply the scoreline.  The apes went a goal up in minute twelve.  It seems the match got a little scrappy as both teams were reduced to ten men twenty minutes after the break.  The Battery's match report has precious little details, except that Charleston pressed the second half but found no equalizer.  A lone Battery fan who attended the match, made the case that it was indeed Charleston who controlled the run of play and also questioned the offense warranting Jose Cuevas' red card.  

Charleston Battery 1-0 College of Charleston

In a preseason double-header, the Battery took on the locals at C of C and also Clemson University later in the day.  Midfielder Matt Kassel, on trial with the Battery, scored in the eleventh minute after Jose Cuevas orchestrated the move towards goal.  A perfectly timed Cuevas cut-back allowed Kassel to rifle home, finding the net by means of the left upright.  No Quarter reports that primarily signed players took the field against C of C, whose counter-attack strategies did little to trouble the Battery defensively.  A BIG development was the on-field presence of Amadou Sanyang, former Seattle Sounder who featured for Charleston in a defensive midfield role.  Oh yeah, its gonna be a great season!!

The College of Charleston defeated Clemson 1-0 in between the two Battery fixtures.

Charleston Battery 2-0  Clemson University

Charlie Romero carried over his good form from the CCC and found the net again for Charleston.  Moses Aduny also tallied for the Battery in the win.  A host of unsigned players featured in the game, one of whom wore a different jersey for his last outing at the 'Baud.  Thanks again to No Quarter for the specs on Ryan Richter who scored against Charleston for DC United in the Carolina Challenge Cup.  The young talent looked impressive down the right flank and would add great depth to the Battery's midfield.  

All signs point to a fantastic anniversary year for the Battery!  They host the Wilmington Hammerheads March 24 at Blackbaud and don't forget the 2012 USLPRO season kicks off in Richmond April 7th against the Kickers in the Pioneer Cup!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

MLS FirstKick 2012

Major League Soccer is in full swing after an exciting weekend of season openers.  MLS FirstKick boasted a number of feisty match-ups with a few surprising results.  If you missed any of the games, here's a brief recap of the opening day action.

LA Galaxy 1-3 Real Salt Lake
Perhaps the biggest talking point from the weekend was RSL's 3-1 upset of the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.  Reigning MLS champs and undefeated at home last season, with the return of Edson Buddle, LA are heavy favorites to bring home the crown again this year.  However, Real Salt Lake raised some eyebrows and some questions of the Galaxy's title credentials.  Making a big statement by taking all three points from the HDC in week one, it looks like RSL are a good bit stronger than most would have predicted.  RSL's GK Nick Rimando had an outstanding game and at times looked as if he were playing in a cup final.  With all four goals coming in the last twenty minutes, this was a cracker; just the type of game you look for at the start of a new season.
FC Dallas 2-1 NY Red Bulls
Another surprising result, the Hoops avenged last season's wildcard playoff loss with a confident display at FC Dallas Stadium.  From the first whistle, Dallas was all over the pitch and took only eleven minutes to find the net.  New York's defense was atrocious and honestly never gave the Red Bulls a fighting chance.  The atmosphere in Dallas was electric as the sell-out crowd of almost 21,000 harried the already struggling Red Bulls with chants and vuvuzelas.  Panamanian striker Blas Perez shined for the hosts on the afternoon assisting both goals with the second coming at sixty one minutes.  Kenny Cooper came on for NY, scoring a consolation goal late in the game.  It was strange to see him in a Red Bulls kit, but he still managed to extend his record of goals scored on the Dallas home pitch.  This was a very strong showing by FC Dallas, and an equally poor outing for their opposites.  New York have a long way to go if they plan on accomplishing something this year.  

Demerit "impacts" Montreal's Nyassi
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 Montreal Impact
A rivalry now stretching almost two decades, this was the match that began the 2012 MLS season.  The Whitecap's 2011 inaugural season was less than a resounding success, but the expansion side were finally putting together the pieces at the end of last year.  With an offense boosted by the likes of Sebastian Le Toux, the Caps showed this year's newbies how its done.  Le Toux punished the Impact for an early defensive foible and scored three minutes into the game...welcome to the big leagues Montreal!  The Impact were able to hold their own, but simply failed to make the most of their chances.  Vancouver again found the net nine minutes into the second half, and the visitors simply could not rally.  The vocal crowd at BC place were happy with their second consecutive opening day win.
San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 New England Revolution
The first match for these two sides ended along the same lines as did last season for the pair.  Chris Wondolowski, the Quake's goal-scoring hero opened his 2012 account after fifteen minutes, capitalizing on a Revs defensive error.  Despite showing fight in the dying moments of the game, this retooled New England squad were not up to snuff.
DC United 0-1 Sporting KC
CJ Sapong spoiled DC's home opener with a goal that could not have come any later.  Sporting controlled the match and looked like scoring all night.  Opting for the dramatic finish, a Zusi corner supplied the right cross and KC strolled out of United's stomping grounds with all three points.
Colorado Rapids 2-0 Columbus Crew
The fans at DSG Park were treated to a dejavu of last season's wildcard playoff match.  The Rapids showed up ready to play, scoring late in both halves to put Columbus to the sword.  The hosts provided a confident game whereas the Crew essentially failed to assert themselves.  There's a growing rivalry between these two and this year the Rapids have already taken the upper hand.
Chivas USA 0-1 Houston
Another stoppage time winner, Houston were finally able to break the spell, winning on opening day.  In an otherwise unimpressive match, the Dynamo struck two minutes into stoppage time, leaving the Home Depot Center and the hapless Goats with nothing to cheer about.
Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union
The Timbers host the Union Monday night.  It should be a fair fight, but the interesting thing will be to see how each club's new acquisitions fit with their established styles.  Should be a good match.

Look for more MLS updates throughout the season, as well as player profiles, and Open Cup specials.  As always, thanks for the reading The Beautiful Game!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Weekend Washout & What's Ahead

The weather stole the show over the weekend...well, actually the weather drowned the show, as the final two CCC match-ups were called on account of monsoon-like conditions.  Hope our guests packed their swim gear; it was nasty out there!!  But as disappointing as Saturday's fixtures turned out, the good news is that there's still plenty of preseason action on the way!
A dismal night at the 'Baud

The Battery will face Coastal Carolina University Thursday (3/8) at Blackbaud, and then travel to Georgia Saturday (3/10) to face the Atlanta Silverbacks.

A week from Saturday the boys take on Clemson (3/17) and finish out the month with ties against Coastal Carolina, our division rivals the Wilmington Hammerheads, and possibly our old league foes the Carolina Railhawks.

With more players coming into town, the Battery will be able to firm up and sort out the 2012 roster.  Expect to see several more new faces this year as well as some familiar heros.  Best of luck to the boys; we're looking forward to some entertaining matches in the next few weeks!

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!!