The Charleston Battery were defeated 4-1 by Atlanta United 2 on Sunday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Aidan Apodaca scored his first goal for the Battery early in the contest, but the hosts managed to rally in the second half to take the three points. Charleston conclude their early road stand and return to Patriots Point on Friday, April 1, in search of a bounce-back performance.
The Battery were quick to start the match with some intensity and were awarded a free kick just outside the box within the first three minutes. Charleston broke through in the 6th minute when DZ Harmon found Aidan Apodaca near the six-yard box and Apodaca buried the close-range shot.
The action started from the back line and was a strong display of build-up play from the Battery, initiated by Preston Kilwien. Kilwien passed the ball forward to Andrew Booth who played it to Harmon, and the Liberian midfielder then worked his way into the box to ultimately find Apodaca after a pair of redirects from Atlanta. Aidan needed just one touch to fire the ball into the back of the net for his first goal as a Charleston player.
Both sides began to find footing in their forward advances and goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky was called upon at the 20-minute mark to make a save on a free-kick. Kuzminsky would make another save moments later to preserve the lead. Atlanta gained momentum going forward but the Charleston back line, anchored by Kilwien and Pat Hogan, held strong against the threats.
A defining moment in the match came in stoppage time before the end of the half when Matt Sheldon was shown a second yellow card, reducing the Battery to 10 men for the remainder of the contest. Collectively, 23 fouls were called between both sides in the first half.
Play resumed with Atlanta eager to capitalize on the one-man advantage. The hosts would equalize roughly 10 minutes into the new half when Jackson Conway scored with a short-range header near the left post. Conway would add two more goals through the 78th minute to give Atlanta at 3-1 advantage over the 10-man Battery squad.
Substitutes EJ Johnson and Mauro Cichero provided the Battery some forward momentum as the side tried to level the scoreline. Cichero came close to getting one back for Charleston in the 76th minute with a shot from near the right post that went wide past the face of the goal. Enock Kwakwa played in a good ball into the box for the dangerous opportunity. Johnson had a good look on goal in the 90th minute with a strong shot that ultimately was wide right of the post. Atlanta would add a fourth goal in stoppage time to see out their first victory of the year.
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey will look to see more from the squad the next time out.
“There wasn’t the press or aggression we wanted to after the early moments in the first half,” said Coach Casey. “We paid the price for that tonight, unfortunately.”
Coach Casey said the team will look to address the areas for improvement ahead of the next match on Friday.
“We’ll come back home and have some time to digest what happened tonight,” said Coach Casey. “We’ll really evaluate ourselves in training and make sure on Friday that we come out with the right intensity for 90 minutes.”
Battery midfielder Andrew Booth believes the early success that led to the Apodaca goal is something to build on.
“That goal came from something we’ve been talking about in practice, finding success between the lines, and it definitely paid off there,” said Booth. “Preston saw me with a good pass between the lines and I was able to then find DZ, which then led to the goal. So, I think that’s something we can look at building on.”
Booth said the team will look to turn the page from the night’s result with a relatively quick week before Friday’s match against Las Vegas Lights FC.
“It’s sometimes good when you have a quick turnaround between games because you have a chance to make things right quickly,” said Booth. “Looking to Las Vegas, hopefully we can start in a similar way as we have been, putting teams under pressure and getting an early goal, but then continuing to keep pushing and not letting our foot off the gas the rest of the game.”
The Battery will host Las Vegas on Friday, April 1, in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs. Kickoff for the match is slated for 7 p.m. ET at Patriots Point. Fans can purchase tickets through SeatGeek.com, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing partner.