The Charleston Battery head to the Sunshine State for a Saturday night clash with Eastern Conference leaders Tampa Bay Rowdies at 6:30 PM at Al Lang Stadium.
Sebastian Guenzatti, USL Championship
The Rowdies suffered their first defeat of the season last weekend against North Carolina FC. It was an off night for the Rowdies who conceded three goals, the first time all season they have allowed multiple goals in a single match.
Andre Fortune led NCFC scoring two goals in the 3-1 win. Fortune opened the scoring in the 19th minute and doubled the visitors lead three minutes into the second half.
Tampa Bay substitute Zach Steinberger lifted the Rowdies, cutting the NCFC lead in the 54th minute. Dominic Oduro nearly brought the hosts level in the 66th minute striking the crossbar following a free kick opportunity. Steven Miller would seal the win for NCFC in the 77th minute.
The Rowdies remain in the driver's seat in the East, three points ahead of second place New York Red Bulls II.
Ian Svantesson, Arthur Ellis
The Battery exited the U.S. Open Cup in a Fourth Round defeat to Major League Soccer side Atlanta United on Thursday night. It's the third consecutive year that the Battery have lost to Atlanta United in the Open Cup.
Ian Svantesson scored the opening goal of the match in the 20th minute, capitalizing on sloppy play from Atlanta. AJ Paterson created the chance after a well-timed challenge to win the ball finding Svantesson at the top of the box.
Atlanta controlled much of the first half action following the Battery goal but were unable to find an equalizer. Atlanta found their breakthrough in the 79th minute through Romario Williams. A pair of extra time goals from Atlanta substitute Brandon Vazquez would eventually send the hosts through to the Fifth Round of the Open Cup.
What to Watch For
Tampa Bay Row D's - The Rowdies have been the best defensive unit in the Championship conceding just 7 goals in 14 league matches. Prior to last weekends home loss against NCFC, the Rowdies had only allowed 4 goals through the first thirteen matches of the season.
Goalkeeper John McCarthy has played a vital role in the success of the Rowdies defense this season. McCarthy is among the league's leaders in saves (35) and is tied with North Carolina's Alex Tambakis for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
McCarthy tops the charts when it comes to clean sheets (9) highlighted by five straight shutout's earlier this season.
History Repeating? -The Battery have had the Rowdies number since 2017 playing to a 4-1-1 record against the Tampa Bay club. Charleston have won two of the last three meetings between the two sides at Al Lang Stadium and will be looking for another positive result Saturday night.
A midweek match against the Rowdies in August of 2018 produced a 0-0 draw and could be a preview of what to expect on Saturday. The match featured a total of 25 shots of which only 3 were on target. Defense has been a consistent strength for the Battery and Charleston's all-time record against the Rowdies could see the Battery take points on the road in a defensive bout.
Ian Svantesson - Ian Svantesson's goal on Thursday night against Atlanta should give the forward confidence heading into Saturday's match. Svantesson scored three goals in U.S. Open Cup play, matching his total scored in USL Championship this season. With the Battery out of the competition, Svantesson's focus will return to finding the back of the net in league play and will be a welcoming sign for the Battery who currently sit 8th in the East.
Tampa Bay Rowdies: USL Championship Record, 8-1-5 (Home: 4-1-3)
Goals: Guenzatti (6)
Assists: Fernandes, Tinari (4)
Chances Created: Tinari (30)
Saves: McCarthy (35)
Clean Sheets: McCarthy (9)
Charleston Battery: USL Championship Record, 5-3-5 (Away 1-3-1)
Goals: Lewis (4)
Assists: Higashi, Lewis, Woodbine (2)
Chances Created: Lewis (22)
Saves: Kuzminsky (31)
Clean Sheets: Kuzminsky (3)