The Charleston Battery defeated New York Red Bulls II 1-3 on Saturday in commanding fashion on the road. The Black and Yellow were propelled by Augustine Williams’ 13th goal of the season and a brace from Aidan Apodaca to secure their first away win of 2022. Charleston will look to build upon the momentum of the result when they head west to face LA Galaxy II on August 20 before returning home on August 27 against Detroit City FC.
The evening started under perfect playing conditions in Montclair, New Jersey, and both sides brought plenty of intensity after the game kicked off. The Battery’s high press yielded close chances through the quarter-hour mark as Charlie Asensio and Robbie Crawford both rocked shots off the woodwork. Avionne Flanagan and Aidan Apodaca connected in the 18th minute with Apodaca firing a shot just wide of the post in a promising progression in the final third.
Charleston opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when Augustine Williams converted from the penalty spot for his fifth-consecutive match with a goal. The penalty was awarded after DZ Harmon was fouled inside the box minutes before and the Sierra Leone international made no mistake going for the top left corner. Williams’ conversion was his 13th goal of the season and 50th career in the USL Championship regular season.
The Battery did not let off the gas pedal and scored again in the 37th minute when Aidan Apodaca slotted home his first goal of the night. Crawford initiated the play with a long ball over the top that Apodaca stayed with and drove inside the box, placing his shot past goalkeeper Ioannis Nikopolidis. Tempers began to flare moments later and New York were reduced to 10 men in the 44th minute after RB Leipzig loanee Caden Clark was shown a red card for violent conduct against Crawford.
The 0-2 scoreline held into the break as the Battery defense held firm, keeping New York without a shot on target in the first half.
Play resumed in the second half with the Battery eager to add to their lead with a one-man advantage. Charleston did just that in the 51st minute when Apodaca found the back of the net again to bag his first brace with the club. The charge came down the left flank and Williams found Apodaca with a cross that just needed to be tapped in by Aidan. The goal was Apodaca’s fourth of the season and the assist was Williams’ third. New York thought they pulled a goal back in the 59th minute via Jordan Adebayo-Smith, but the tally was chalked off by the referee for offside in the build-up.
Charleston kept the pressure on to keep the match out of reach for New York. Romario Piggott, Harmon and Flanagan all registered shots on target after the hour-mark, but Nikopolidis was up to the challenge to deny them. On the opposite end, Preston Kilwien and Matt Sheldon flashed some impressive defense with blocks inside the box in the waning minutes of the match. New York managed to pull a goal back in the very last minute of stoppage time via Zach Ryan, the side’s only shot on target during the match.
Charleston earned their first away victory of the season on the night. Among other notables of the night was the club debut for Avionne Flanagan and the return of Andrew Booth, the latter appearing in his first match since June 26.
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey and forward Aidan Apodaca addressed the match following the final whistle, with key quotes below.
Coach Casey on his overall assessment of the night…
We did very well getting in behind New York’s back line, in the first half especially. We created a lot of chances by being direct, we were aggressive with our defending and we were able to score a couple of goals late in the first half which was going to give us some momentum.
Pat Hogan did well as well coming in, he was a good voice and had a good game. Aidan Apodaca did well, to get the two goals after a couple of missed chances, he kept going, and it was good for him and his confidence. Avionne Flanagan was great, his energy and his speed gave us something a little different than we’ve had this year.
Coach Casey on the team continuing to apply pressure throughout the match…
We’ve talked about that, to be aggressive for 90 minutes, and we knew we were going to have chances. We’ve conceded a lot of goals right after we’ve scored, so the message to the team was to keep pushing and keep being really aggressive, and I think they did a good job doing that.
Coach Casey on the main takeaways to build upon for the next game…
There were some good performances across the board. We had some new guys in the lineup tonight that performed well, which should push the other players to realize there’s competition going on and when they get their chance, they have to perform. I was very pleased with their effort tonight.
Apodaca on what was clicking with the offense…
I think it was just having an understanding of the way we wanted to approach the game tonight. I talked with Robbie [Crawford] before the game about how he was just going to hit the long ball and that’s how I scored my first goal. So, it was understanding each other’s tendencies and it came to fruition.
Apodaca on how it felt to get on the scoresheet again…
It does loads for my confidence, especially with how the season has been going, and it’s all about staying ready. I think there’s healthy competition everywhere, and it feels good. But, we go right back to it with another game coming up next weekend, so that’s where the focus turns to now.
Apodaca on how this result can build momentum for the squad…
I think this game does a lot in boosting our confidence. But, we also conceded at the last minute and none of us were happy with that because we know the standards that we demand from ourselves in staying focused for 90-plus minutes. So, I think that’s where our focus shifts to after the match, staying focused for the entirety of the game. We’re looking forward to another away match next weekend and then back at home after that.
The Battery look to build on their Saturday performance when they travel west to face LA Galaxy II on August 20. The Black and Yellow will then return to the Lowcountry for their next home match, on August 27 versus Detroit City FC. It will be the first time Detroit visit Patriots Point as the club celebrates ‘College Night’ at the stadium. Tickets are still available for the August 27 match via Seatgeek, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.