The Charleston Battery kick off their home schedule against Charlotte Independence on Friday, May 14 at Patriots Point. This will be the first meeting between the two clubs since their clash in the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs Eastern Conference Quarterfinals match.
The Battery return home after a 1-1 draw on the road against New York Red Bulls II, where a Zeiko Lewis equalizer in the second half earned the team a point in New Jersey. The score was set up by an AJ Paterson interception that found its way to Lewis via a ball into the box from Stavros Zarokostas. Three newcomers made their Charleston debuts: Ben Di Rosa, Geobel Perez and Burke Fahling. Last season, both matches against Charlotte were in North Carolina, meaning Friday’s fixture is the Independence’s first trip to Patriots Point.
Charlotte started their season a week earlier than Charleston but were off last week. The Jacks fell in their season opener 3-0 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in St. Petersburg. The result doesn’t tell the full picture, however, as the match was scoreless at the half and Tampa Bay didn’t score until the 59th minute, which was then followed by two more by the hosts. The Independence were without veterans Enzo Martinez and Joel Johnson, who could have shored up the squad’s offense and defense.
Head to head, the Battery lead the series with a 9-2-6 record and the two sides have met every year since the Independence’s inaugural season in 2015. The single 2020 regular season match ended in a 1-1 draw, where a Dane Kelly goal was nullified by an Independence own goal, which came off a ricochet from a Zeiko Lewis shot. The second meeting was in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, a dramatic 1-2 Battery victory that featured an Arthur Bosua goal at the 105th minute in extra time to see the Black and Yellow advance.
The Friday duel will be played in front of a sold-out Patriots Point crowd and will be the first of five home matches across the next six weeks for the Battery. The Black and Yellow host a match at Patriots Point for the first time since September 20, 2020, a 2-0 victory over The Miami FC.
Dean was the most involved for Charlotte and played a key role in their ball distribution. The veteran defender led the squad in successful passes (44), total passes in the opposition’s half (22) and key passes (2), while tallying two interceptions and three clearances. Dean’s efforts earned him the highest grading for Charlotte during the match from FotMob.com at 7.2 (out of 10). Dean had been retired since November 1, 2018, prior to this season, but expect him to play a key role once in his return to the game in setting up Charlotte’s scheme from the back line.
Parra was an offseason acquisition for the Independence, signing from San Diego Loyal SC, adding a new threat the Battery did not see in the previous two meetings with Charlotte. Parra played with Las Vegas Lights FC prior to the Loyal and he developed a penchant for scoring, amassing 15 goals across 31 matches. Prior, he had acquired experience in Germany for five years before returning to the United States. Parra was unable to open his Charlotte account against Tampa Bay in his two total shots, but expect him to be searching for his first goal on Friday.
Kelly played a key role in the Battery’s season opener and earned Heineken Man of the Match honors for his efforts. Angelo commanded a presence throughout the midfield, leading the team with 35 successful passes and four tackles in a full 90 minutes of action. FotMob.com graded Kelly’s performance with a 7.7 rating, tied for second-best among all players during the match. Look for Angelo to continue his strong play in front of the sold-out home crowd at Patriots Point.
Di Rosa made his professional debut against New York and made an instant impact on the lineup. He racked up an impressive stat line, completing 31 of 40 passes while tallying three clearances (team-high), three interceptions, 15 possessions gained (team-high) and two shots. Di Rosa’s efforts up and down the pitch earned him USLChampionship.com Man of the Match honors and attained the highest FotMob.com rating of the match at 8.1. Di Rosa showed capability on defense and offense that could keep things interesting in transition when Charlotte come to town.
The Battery returned from their first road trip on Saturday and were back on the training pitch Monday to prepare for the Independence.
“Charlotte for us, they could lose seven-nil, win five-nil, and then our game is going to be a battle. It’s a rivalry game,” Coach Mike Anhaueser said, looking ahead to the match against the Jacks. “We’ve got to be prepared. They play open and that’s what we’re hoping. If they do, we can really catch them on the counter-attack or with our play getting wide,” he continued.
Looking at Charlotte’s first match, a 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay, Coach added, “defensively they looked pretty sound. Roberts in the back and Miller in the goal, they’re going to be sound defensively. We need to take the game to them because if we don’t, they have the quality pieces and some young players that can do some damage.”
As of posting, Nico Rittmeyer is out. Erik McCue and Mauro Cichero are both listed as questionable.
Charleston Battery vs. Charlotte Independence
Friday, May 14 – 7:00 p.m. EST Kickoff
HOW TO WATCH:
Fans with tickets will be the only ones able to enter the stadium on matchday as the game is sold out! All Battery matches will be streaming on ESPN+ and the match is the featured broadcast on SiriusXM’s SiriusXM FC (channel 157) broadcast.