The Charleston Battery battle the Charlotte Independence on Friday night at the Sportsplex at Matthews.
Charleston beat Charlotte in an early-season match back in Week 5 by a score of 2-0 at MUSC Health Stadium. Ian Svantesson scored his third goal in the opening four matches of the season to give the Battery a 1-0 lead before Zeiko Lewis curled in a stunning goal to double the lead in the 71st minute. Charlotte nearly grabbed one back following a corner in the 78th minute as defender Hugh Roberts header hit the right post before coming out to the feet of Andrew Gutman, whose shot was cleared from goal by Kotaro Higashi.
Charlotte lost 3-1 to Indy Eleven last Sunday and has yet to win a match on the road this season playing out to nine draws and five losses. The good news? Friday's match against the Battery is at home. The Independence have won five matches at home, lost six, and tied only once. Enzo and Alex Martinez will need to bring their A-game(s) if Charlotte wants to pick up a win against the Battery, as the Martinez brothers lead the team in chances created, with 46 and 35 respectively.
The Battery have dropped their last two matches in the final minutes of play. George Davis IV scored the match-winner for Louisville in the 88th minute at MUSC Health Stadium on August 17th while Nashville's Bolu Akinyode tallied his first goal of the campaign in the third minute of stoppage time last Saturday. Joe Kuzminsky made four saves against Nashville and will be called on once again to lead the Battery defense in what could prove to be a challenging out.
Southern Derby Cup - Southern Derby Cup points are on the line tomorrow as both teams are hopeful for three points.
North Carolina FC lead the Charleston Battery and the Charlotte Independence in the Derby Cup standings entering Friday night's match. With a win, Charlotte would draw level with Charleston (4 points) while a tie or loss would see the Independence finish last in the competition. A win for Charleston would see the Battery leapfrog North Carolina into first place, with a pivotal final match set for Sunday, September 22nd between the two sides at MUSC Health Stadium. Splitting points with Charlotte would see Charleston tie North Carolina (5 points) while a loss would put Charlotte level with the Battery (4 points).
Playoff Pressure - More importantly, USL Championship regular-season points are up for grabs. Charlotte and Charleston are both desperate for points as things heat up around the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
As it stands Charlotte are on the outside looking in, sitting 12th in the East, five points behind the Battery. The Independence have played 26 games this season, tied with Hartford, Nashville, New York, and North Carolina for the most played in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte have lost four of their last five outings, conceding three goals in three straight contests and must solve their defensive problems if they want a shot at post-season play.
Charleston have a four-point cushion over 11th place Saint Louis, and a win on Friday would go a long way in helping the Battery secure a playoff berth. After Birmingham played to a 1-1 draw against Loudoun on Wednesday night, and with a win, the Battery have a chance to go level on points with the Legion. Birmingham occupy the 9th spot and holds a tie-break over Charleston with more league wins. Points of any kind on Friday will benefit the Battery ahead of a tough match at home next Saturday against Indy Eleven.
Charlotte Independence: USL Championship Record, 5-11-10
Goals: Oduro (7)
Assists: E. Martinez (6)
Chances Created: E. Martinez (46)
Saves: Miller (68)
Clean Sheets: Miller (3)
Charleston Battery: USL Championship Record, 7-7-9
Goals: Lewis (6)
Assists: Higashi (4)
Chances Created: Lewis (25)
Saves: Kuzminsky (55)
Clean Sheets: Kuzminsky (3)