The Charleston Battery will head to Florida this weekend for the Saturday duel against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium. Kickoff in St. Petersburg is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.
The matchup is the first between Charleston and Tampa Bay in the 2022 season, but there’s no lack of familiarity between the two East Coast clubs. In the 2020 regular season, the Battery beat the Rowdies three times in four matches. However, in 2021, Tampa Bay got the better of the series and won each match, three of which were decided by a difference of one goal. Charleston will look for revenge this weekend.
Tampa Bay return home following a 1-2 away victory over Miami FC. The Rowdies secured a 0-2 advantage through the hour-mark via a Miami own goal and a penalty spot conversion from Leo Fernandes. The hosts cut into Tampa Bay’s lead in the 64th minute when Othello Bah found the back of the net. Fernandes’ goal would prove to make the difference as the Rowdies held on for the victory. The win placed Tampa Bay at third in the Eastern Conference table, just two points off the pace of leaders Memphis 901 FC.
Charleston will look to build upon their best performance of the season after they blanked Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 3-0 at home. Augustine Williams opened the scoring in the 2nd minute, his fifth of the year, to set up the Black and Yellow with an ideal start. Before the break, Andrew Booth and Romario Piggott would connect on two separate occasions to give the Battery a commanding 3-0 lead. From there, Charleston’s defense firmed up to prevent any ability for Pittsburgh to get back into the game. Goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux needed to make just one save and tallied his first clean sheet with the team.
Defensive midfielder Dominic Oduro will return to his old stomping grounds for the first time as a member of the Battery – Oduro played for the Rowdies from 2018 to 2020. Preston Kilwien also makes a return to St. Pete after competing for the Rowdies’ U23 squad in 2017 while attending Florida Gulf Coast University.
Absent from Tampa Bay’s squad this year is the center-back-goalkeeper duo of Forrest Lasso and Evan Louro. Both were with the team during their Eastern Conference title-winning seasons of 2020 and 2021.
Saturday will also kickoff the No Quarter Derby, a supporter group-led rivalry between the fans that spans the season series. The fans of the winning team will receive a cooler chest full of beers from the fans of the losing team. The final result will be determined after the reverse fixture on September 10 when the Battery host the Rowdies at Patriots Point.
Ones to watch
LaCava is a name fans will recall from his time with New York Red Bulls II and he is now with the Rowdies, on loan from the Red Bulls first team. The winger is Tampa Bay’s leading scorer with six goals and is one of three players to appear in all 15 league games. LaCava has also tallied two assists and 16 chances created so far. Against the Battery last year, LaCava had two goals and one assist across the four matches. He’ll be a player Charleston will want to keep in check on Saturday.
Piggott was a true tour de force against Pittsburgh, having involvement in every goal the Battery scored. The Panamanian helped set up Williams’ opening goal with pressure against the Hounds that forced them into an errant backward pass that fell to Augi before he scored. Piggott assisted Booth in the second goal and then scored the third one himself. Look for Romario to play another important role against Tampa Bay as the Black and Yellow aim to seize the momentum of their recent performances.
From the training ground
The Battery returned to training on Tuesday following a period of recovery following the Pittsburgh match.
Head Coach Conor Casey said the team is working to build upon the performance against the Hounds.
“We’ve been working a lot on both sides of the ball, but more specifically, some of those one-on-one duels and defending,” said Coach Casey. “Having the shutout last week, there was a huge lift for us. To play a first half where you don’t have any goals conceded is something that we’ve been preaching a lot.”
The team’s focus now shifts to Tampa Bay, who have been a familiar, and formidable, foe the past few seasons.
“Tampa Bay are a very good team, they’re leading in the top of pretty much every offensive stat in the league right now,” said Coach Casey. “It will be a great test for us, they’re organized, they have a lot of weapons up front and they have a lot of experience.”
Defender AJ Paterson, back from international duty with Grenada in the Concacaf Nations League, said there’s plenty of positivity around the squad given the recent matches.
“The mood in the locker room is good coming off a big result against Pittsburgh,” said Paterson. “We’re looking to use that momentum, bring it down to Tampa Bay, and give them a really good game.”
After securing a clean sheet against Pittsburgh, who were tied for seventh in most goals scored in the league coming into that match, Paterson said the team will aim to carry that form into Florida.
“I think the communication along the back line and with the goalkeeper was great,” said Paterson. “We kept Pittsburgh to very few shots, zero goals, that’s something we want to pride ourselves on as defenders and as a team, we want to continue to do that.”
Paterson’s presence will be welcomed back along the back line and he is looking forward to logging more minutes of game action.
“It’s always nice to get back on the pitch, whether for the Battery or Grenada, I’ve got about five games under my belt since returning,” said Paterson. “Every day, I am feeling better. Hopefully, we can continue that and bring some results.”
On Saturday’s match, Coach Casey expects the defensive units to make the difference.
“I think it will come down to our defending and if we’re able to really go in there with that same mindset we had last week, of not giving up any goals,” said Coach Casey.
As of posting, Enock Kwakwa is questionable, and Joe Kuzminsky, Patrick Hogan, Kyle Holcomb and Matteo Ritaccio are out.
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Charleston Battery
Saturday, June 18 – 7:30 p.m. ET Kickoff
Al Lang Stadium
HOW TO WATCH:
The club is hosting the next Battery Watch Party at Madra Rua in Park Circle (North Charleston)! Join supporters and the staff cheer on the Black and Yellow from afar – fans in Battery merch can enjoy drink specials on Bud Light and Heineken (21+). Start time for the watch party is 6:30 p.m., one hour ahead of kickoff.
Can’t make it to Madra Rua? All Battery matches will stream on ESPN+ domestically and through the league’s YouTube channel for free internationally.