Presented by MUSC Health
The Charleston Battery head west for their second game of the season, taking on Sacramento Republic FC on Sat., March 18. Kickoff at Heart Health Park is slated for 10 p.m. ET.
In the historical series between Charleston and Sacramento, the California club has come away victorious in the two meetings, once in 2014 and again in 2022. The Battery will look to avenge last year’s result.
The Battery started the year with a stellar performance against Phoenix Rising FC, despite settling for a 1-1 draw. Charleston’s high press was influential throughout the night and led to Andrew Booth scoring the night’s opening tally. With an xG (expected goals) rating of 2.90 by Opta against Phoenix, the highest of any USLC club on opening weekend, Charleston will look to bring that same offensive prowess to California and capitalize on their chances.
Sacramento opened their campaign with a 0–1 road victory over El Paso Locomotive FC. Republic FC’s lone goal came from ex-Pittsburgh forward Russell Cicerone, who the Battery are familiar with from his tenure in Steel City. Another Sacramento player the Battery are incredibly familiar with is Zeiko Lewis, who enters his second year with the team after spending three seasons in the Lowcountry.
Saturday’s game will be a homecoming for Fidel Barajas, who is a native of Sacramento and previously played for the Republic FC Academy. Additionally, Augustine Williams, Aidan Apodaca and Tristan Trager will return to the state they grew up in.
Cicerone is the player to watch for Sacramento. Given his recent familiarity with the Eastern Conference and strong debut with Republic FC, he will be poised to make an impact on Saturday.
Chris Allan is one to keep an eye on for the Battery. Allan commanded the midfield throughout the evening against Phoenix, completing 82% of his passes while tallying five interceptions, five duels won, one shot on target and 10 recoveries.
From the training ground
Head Coach Ben Pirmann and midfielder Chris Allan discussed the away match before departing to California, with key quotes to follow.
Coach Pirmann on the message to the team this week after the home opener…
The biggest message was that [Saturday] was a really good performance. We were really gutted and disappointed we didn’t get all three points, especially in front of a great crowd in the first time out of the season. We always want to reflect, analyze and improve; so back at it this week, we were focused on improving and then prepping for Sacramento.
Coach Pirmann on what to expect from Saturday’s hosts…
We know they’re a really tough opponent. They’ve got a top coach [in Mark Briggs], Mark does an amazing job. I would say they’re, if not the best, top-two or top-three in the whole league. They’ve added some top players, got an unbelievably strong midfield and don’t miss a beat. We got to find the balance of going for the result and getting points with just improving and making that sure that, by the end of the season, we’re improved and better with our identity.
Allan on the mindset within the locker room in the second week of the season…
We’re in good spirits. For the most part, we put in a good performance [against Phoenix], especially for the first game of the year. So, we’re definitely happy but there are a lot of areas to improve. I thought we had a lot of chances, but being more clinical is something we’re going to have to really focus on and make sure we do right on the day.
Allan on preparing for Sacramento…
With Sacramento coming up, they’re very hard to break down and every team in the league knows they have a solid back five. We really need to be clinical and break their lines, move the ball quickly and then we need to watch for them in transition, since they’re very quick going forward, especially out wide. We really have to communicate and be solid, structurally, and match them.
As of writing, Handwalla Bwana is listed as out.
Sacramento Republic FC vs. Charleston Battery
Saturday, March 18 – 10 p.m. ET Kickoff
Heart Health Park
HOW TO WATCH:
All Battery matches stream on ESPN+ domestically and through the league’s YouTube channel for free internationally.