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Match Preview: Charleston Battery v Bethlehem Steel FC

By Evan Peters, 10/18/19, 2:45PM EDT

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The Charleston Battery wrap up the 2019 USL Championship regular season against the Bethlehem Steel FC at 2:00 PM. The match, originally scheduled for 7:30 PM, was moved to avoid an unfavorable weather forecast on Saturday evening.

The Battery are set to play their third match in seven days while Bethlehem will look to end their season with a win. Charleston enter Saturday afternoon's match after beating Memphis 901 FC, 2-0, at home in midweek. Bethlehem are winless in their last five and split points with Ottawa in a 1-1 draw last time out.

Bethlehem took three points in a 3-1 win over the Battery in April, handing the Black and Yellow their first loss of the season. Kacper Przybylko opened the scoring and Fabinho converted on a penalty to doubled the Steel lead before Tah Brian Anunga cut the deficit with his first goal of the season. Przybylko found the net less than a minute after Anunga's goal to secure three points for Bethlehem. Zach Zandi played a big part in April's contest contributing an assist and creating a team-high six scoring chances.

Charleston fielded a strong attacking lineup on Wednesday against Memphis and could feature a similar eleven on Saturday. The attacking trio of Arthur Bosua, Nicque Daley, and Zeiko Lewis took nine of Charleston's fifteen shots as Lewis shined in the 2-0 win. The Bermuda international assisted on Taylor Mueller's first-half goal and scored his seventh of the season in the 63rd minute. Lewis now leads or shares the lead in four offensive categories which include goals, assists, shots, and chances created.

With the Philadelphia Union eyeing a deep run in the MLS Cup Playoffs, Bethlehem Steel will be without Przybylko and Fabinho as the pair have consistently featured for the Union this season. The duo combined for four appearances for Steel FC and scored a total of four goals, three of which against the Battery. Bethlehem will instead turn to Faris Pemi Moumbagna, who has scored ten goals for Steel FC this season. The 19-year old Cameroon international joined the club in 2018 scoring three goals in fifteen appearances and has eclipsed those totals in his 21 starts this season.

While Bethlehem have been eliminated from the USL Championship Playoffs, Charleston are locked in a tight race for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference.  

Battery Win: Three points on Saturday secure a playoff spot for the Black and Yellow. A draw or loss for Birmingham in this scenario would see the Battery finish 9th setting up a play-in match against Ottawa Fury OR North Carolina FC. If Birmingham claim three points the Battery would finish in 10th.

Battery Draw: This is where things get a bit complicated. A draw would see the Battery finish on 44 points and be in danger of missing out on the playoffs. A combination of a Saint Louis win AND Birmingham win/draw would eliminate Charleston from the postseason. However, if Saint Louis are unable to take three points against North Carolina FC, the Battery would be in, regardless of Birmingham's final result. A combination of a Saint Louis draw/loss AND Birmingham loss would see the Battery finish 9th.

Battery Loss: While a loss to Bethlehem wouldn't eliminate Charleston from the playoffs, it's an obvious worst-case scenario. Saint Louis would need just one point to jump back into 10th place, as they own the tiebreaker, and the Battery would be out. If North Carolina beat Saint Louis, the Battery are in.

Charleston Battery: USL Championship Record, 10-10-13

(Home: 7-3-6)

Team Leaders

Goals: Lewis (7)

Assists: Higashi, Lewis (4)

Chances Created: Lewis (39)

Saves: Kuzminsky (88)

Clean Sheets: Kuzminsky (8)

Bethlehem Steel FC: USL Championship Record, 8-18-7

(Away: 4-8-4)

Team Leaders

Goals: Moumbagna (10)

Assists: Zandi (6)

Chances Created: Zandi (33)

Saves: Morton (41)

Clean Sheets: Morton, Romero (2)

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