The Charleston Battery fell 1-2 to Las Vegas Lights FC on Friday in the first meeting between the two clubs. Augustine Williams opened the scoring in the 8th minute to electrify the packed Patriots Point crowd. A brace from Las Vegas’ Danny Trejo, however, proved to make the difference in lifting the visitors to victory. Charleston return to action at home Wednesday, April 6, when they host South Georgia Tormenta FC in the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The night started off with the Battery applying early pressure against Las Vegas. Charleston’s efforts bore fruit in the 7th minute when they were awarded a penalty following a foul inside the box, won by Aidan Apodaca. Augustine Williams lined up from the spot and made no mistake, burying his second goal of the season to put the Battery ahead 1-0. The Black and Yellow have enjoyed success in the early stages of matches, leading the league with three goals within the first 15 minutes of the first half.
The Black and Yellow continued to live in Lights FC’s defensive third and Brett St. Martin nearly doubled the lead in the 12th minute with a shot that went narrowly wide of the left post. Andrew Booth and Preston Kilwien would also fire in shots through the first 25 minutes, both blocked, however. Las Vegas looked to counter after the half-hour mark by forcing goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky to make a save in the 33rd minute, his first of the night.
Lights FC managed to equalize in stoppage time when Danny Trejo found the back of the net after weaving his way through the box. The Battery saw improvement in winning challenges in the first half compared to previous matches, outnumbering Las Vegas in tackles won five-to-one.
The Battery came out of the break eager to retake the lead. Williams and Apodaca led the charge up top and nearly broke through in the 52nd minute when a flurry of chances were available for Charleston. The Lights FC defense, however, was able to hold off the Battery’s advances despite goalkeeper Abraham Romero being caught off his line. Las Vegas capitalized on the defensive stand minutes later when Trejo scored in the 56th minute, his second of the night.
The Battery began to make player swaps at the hour mark in hopes of breaking through the Las Vegas defense. Geobel Perez nearly did that just minutes after coming on, sending in a right-footed strike that was redirected narrowly wide of the near post. Leland Archer sent in a shot on frame during the ensuing corner kick but Romero was able to get to the ball in time for the save.
The waning moments of the half continued to play out without either side giving much ground. Kuzminsky made a stellar save in the 80th minute to keep the deficit at one. A particularly noteworthy moment occurred in the 83rd minute when Benji Ettienne came into the match off the bench, making his club and USL Championship debut. EJ Johnson drew a foul just outside the box that earned the Battery their final chance, but the following free-kick taken by Weber was wide of the goal. Las Vegas saw out in the victory 1-2.
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey complimented the team for the strong start to the night but said there is still more work to be done in the later stages.
“We came out with good energy tonight, we got on the front foot and got a goal, I think we put them under pretty good pressure,” said Coach Casey. “But, we’ve had two games scoring goals in the lead-up, so I think that’s a bit of the mental part that we’re still trying to improve.”
Coach Casey credited Las Vegas for making the most of their opportunities to take the three points.
“We had our chances, we had plenty of chances to go ahead and we were caught in the transition,” said Coach Casey. “[Las Vegas] caught us in both one-on-one attacking and one-on-one defending. We weren’t good enough there on the night and they beat us in that category.”
Battery defender Leland Archer admitted the performance was not up to par, but he believes the squad will be able to bounce back and improve.
“It’s a little frustrating going up 1-0 and losing the game, but I think we should be able to fix these and just need to come back stronger,” said Archer.
Archer was happy to be back with the squad after being abroad with the Trinidad and Tobago national team.
“It felt good to be back, missing last weekend [on international duty], it’s just good to be with the team again,” said Archer.
Coach Casey applauded the home fans for their display throughout the contest in supporting the Battery.
“I think we felt the energy all night, we felt the fans pushing us on,” said Coach Casey. “We’re thankful for the support and the atmosphere [they created] tonight.”
Charleston will look to turn the page quickly on Wednesday when they take on Tormenta FC in the Second Round of the U.S. Open Cup at Patriots Point. The April 6 match will be the first meeting between the two sides since squaring off the Open Cup in 2018. Tickets for the match are still available and can be purchased via SeatGeek.com, the club’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.
Fans can use the Access Code “843” to match tickets for just $8.43! Get yours now: