Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Battery are coming off their biggest margin of victory this season after defeating Toronto FC II, 6-1, last week at MUSC Health Stadium. Charleston’s win and Louisville and Tampa’s losses extended the Battery’s lead at the top of the table. The favorable results pushed Charleston’s lead over third-place Tampa to seven points with a game in hand.
Romario Williams and Dante Marini each scored two goals and had an assist in the 6-1 demolition of Toronto last week. Williams’ brace brings his season goal total to 13, which has him atop the league leaders. Forrest Lasso and Justin Portillo also scored in the match against TFC II. Charleston leads the USL in goals, scoring 34 in 15 games.
The Battery haven’t lost at home since Week 3 of the USL season. Since that loss to Pittsburgh, Charleston have recorded a 5-0-2 record, outscored opponents 20-7 and earned four shutouts.
Tampa have struggled to find wins of late following their impressive start to their first season in USL. The Rowdies are winless in their previous six games, drawing three and losing three during that run. Tampa’s last win came on May 19th against Toronto FC II at Ontario Soccer Centre. The 3-1 victory over bottom-of-the-table TFC II is Tampa’s only win on the road this season.
The Rowdies will likely be without Michael Nanchoff and Leo Fernandes Saturday night against the Battery. The Club announced late last week that both Nanchoff and Fernandes picked up injuries and did not set a timetable for their return. Both midfielders have been integral in Tampa’s success this season, each starting more than ten matches and playing big minutes for the Club in the first half of 2017.
The Charleston Battery handed Tampa Bay their only loss at Al Lang Stadium so far this season when the two teams met back in April. Tampa struck first in the match through Joe Cole, but the Battery answered immediately with goals in quick succession from Romario Williams and Maikel Chang just before halftime. Georgi Hristov drew the sides level again in the 62nd minute, setting the stage for Tah Brian Anunga’s 89th minute game-winner. The Battery have held the top spot in the Eastern Conference since the 3-2 win over Tampa in April.