The Charleston Battery emphatically defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 at home on Saturday in front of a packed Patriots Point crowd for Military Appreciation Night. After the visitors took the lead in the 3rd minute, Andrew Booth scored twice to power Charleston past Tampa Bay, sealing the comeback victory. The win was the Battery’s first over the Rowdies since 2020 and they remain undefeated against Tampa Bay in 2022.
Action began quickly with Tampa Bay opening the scoring in the 3rd minute via Sebastian Guenzatti. The Rowdies drove the ball down the right flank and William Antley found Guenzatti with a cross into the box that was redirected to the back of the net with a header. Charleston had opportunities inside the box through the quarter-hour mark but could not find an equalizer.
The Battery were rewarded for their persistence in the 21st minute when Andrew Booth sent a bullet past goalkeeper CJ Cochran. Augustine Williams crossed the ball into the box and the pass was deflected, only for a charging Booth to deliver a perfect strike. The goal was Booth’s second of the season.
As the half wore on, Charleston continued to knock on the door to take the lead, with Booth and Williams providing the pressure. Williams and Booth nearly combined in the 27th minute on a counterattack, however Williams’ shot was saved by Cochran. Williams again came close in the 38th minute but was unable to send Booth’s cross inside the far post.
Charleston had another near goal in stoppage time as they continued to apply the pressure. Mauro Cichero rocked a shot off the crossbar that fell fortunately to Williams but his shot was saved again by Cochran. The teams went into the break level 1-1, although the Battery would have liked more after out-shooting the Rowdies, nine to three.
Play resumed in the second half with the Battery still on the front foot and in search of another goal. Charleston broke the deadlock in the 67th minute when Booth bagged his second goal of the night, his first brace with the club. Aidan Apodaca, who subbed into the match just a minute earlier, assisted Booth with a perfect pass through Tampa Bay’s defense. Booth then slotted the ball right past Cochran and into the back of the net.
The Battery pressed forward following Booth’s goal in hopes of adding another. Apodaca had a breakaway opportunity in the 71st minute against Cochran one-on-one but opted to pass the ball square to Williams, but Williams wasn’t able to get the shot on target. On the opposite side, Charleston’s substitutions indicated prioritizing the defense and they began to tighten their grip on the match as Tampa Bay threw numbers forward. Goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux commanded the defensive third and made a pair of saves just before the 90th minute to preserve the one-goal lead.
After seven tense minutes of stoppage time, Charleston held off Tampa Bay’s desperate advances for an equalizer to see out the 2-1 victory.
The win was the Battery’s first over the Rowdies since October 2020 as they also were undefeated against the Florida club this season. The result also marked the first time Tampa Bay lost after scoring the opening goal in the USL Championship since June 23, 2018, against Penn FC (73 games without defeat).
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey and midfielder Andrew Booth discussed the victory after the final whistle.
Coach Casey on what was clicking with the squad tonight…
They came out ready to compete, they were confident. They knew it was a very good team to play against, but we came out [on top]. We were very good with the ball, we didn’t give in all night. We made incredible plays at the end and showed a lot of guts. So, I’m extremely proud of the group.
They responded very well [to conceding]. We started games like that before and it has gone the other direction, but I think this team’s got a bit stronger backbone now. So, it was just great to see that they remain confident.
Coach Casey on delivering a victory like this for the home fans…
It’s so important. [The fans] have been here and they’ve supported us all year long, regardless of results. They’ve brought an incredible atmosphere and we’ve been just so eager to give them something to cheer about. Tonight was the best performance of the year and the energy in the stadium was top-notch.
So, applause to the fans for coming out and continuing to support us. We’re going to keep pushing the rest of the year, every home game, to try and give them the same experience. I am very proud and excited. Nights like these make you excited to go out and compete every weekend. Thanks to the fans and great job to the team.
Coach Casey on Booth’s performance tonight…
Andrew has made such incredible progress this year and he’s become a really big part of this team. He’s very good at training every day. It’s so great to see him get his rewards, I know he’s worked so hard all year.
Booth on what was working well for the team tonight…
We had a game plan and everyone played well. We came out with good energy. I think a really good thing we did was we solved problems and we adapted well. After the first 10 minutes, we were able to figure them out and from there, I think we dominated the rest of the game.
We knew the space that they would give us to play and we exploited it. Everyone did a really good job, not only at finding good spots, but opening space for other players; unselfish movement. When everybody’s on the same page, you find those good combinations.
Booth on what led to the comeback victory after conceding an early goal…
I think on the first goal we got caught pressing in a way that wasn’t really suited to the way Tampa Bay were playing. After that, we were able to solve problems on the field, which is a testament to the guys on the field and the coaching staff. We just came together and realized we had to change something, and we did. After that, I don’t really think Tampa Bay had much more in the game and we were controlling the game from there.
Booth on the atmosphere at Patriots Point tonight…
We can’t ask for anything more from the home fans. I want to thank all the fans for coming out and that hopefully we can finish the season strong. It feels great anytime you score at home. The crowd goes crazy and that’s a great feeling, you can celebrate with the whole team and all the fans.
The Battery will travel to Memphis for an away match this Friday and then will be back at Patriots Point on Friday, September 23, for their next home match against the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. The club will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Night with Berkeley Electric Cooperative and tickets are available now via SeatGeek, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.