The Battery face New York Red Bulls II on Sunday, May 23, a rematch of the Black and Yellow’s season opener in New Jersey. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST at Patriots Point. This is the first trip to Patriots Point for Red Bulls II.
The first match ended in a 1-1 draw on May 7, with goals from Jake LaCava and Zeiko Lewis canceling each other out to share the points. Since this meeting, Red Bulls II have lost to Miami FC and beat Loudoun United FC, and the Battery have lost to Charlotte Independence. New York and Charleston are slotted at 4th and 6th in the Atlantic Division table, respectively.
Although their first victory came on Tuesday against Loudoun, Red Bulls II have shown signs of being a dangerous club, forcing a draw against the Battery and narrowly falling to Hartford Athletic and Miami FC. Offensively, they are led by Jake LaCava, who has two goals on the year, including one against Charleston. Mandela Egbo also has two goals and proved to be an offensive threat from the back line during the May 7 fixture.
The Battery will be looking for a bounce-back performance at Patriots Point following last Friday’s defeat against Charlotte. The Black and Yellow opened up the home season to a sold-out Patriots Point crowd, but were unable to find their way against the Jacks. Among the bright spots of the evening were the debuts of Erik McCue and DZ Harmon, who both made entered the game off the bench in the 69th minute. Ben Di Rosa and Geobel Perez also made their home debuts in their second Battery appearances.
The first match between the two sides was not short of intensity with four yellow cards being issued to both sides throughout the game. Expect the Sunday meeting to be intense again as the clubs try to establish a foundation for the young season.
Sowe is coming off a strong performance against Loudoun, scoring an early goal in the 4th minute, his first of the season. He attained an 8.3 (out of 10) rating from FotMob.com while totaling five shots, five tackles and seven duels won. Omar’s efforts during the 1-2 victory earned him Man of the Match honors from USLChampionship.com and FotMob.com. Sowe was the top returning scorer for Red Bulls II heading into this season.
Stavros is still looking to open his account for the 2021 season, after nearly doing so in the 3rd minute of last week’s match, but his curling shot rocked off the woodwork and went out. The Greek striker totaled two shots on the evening in a full 90 minutes and was regularly active in the Battery’s attacking third. “There’s a lot of things we can learn from our last match, so we’ll take it as a learning experience and look forward to the next game.”
The Battery went back to work following Friday’s match, training at Patriots Point ahead of the Sunday fixture.
Head Coach Michael Anhaeuser is optimistic about the team’s ability to bounce back from last week’s match against Charlotte.
“You got to move on and you do try to pick up on the positives, and what we did do well was start the game,” said Coach Anhaeuser. “We really put [Charlotte] under pressure for the first 10 minutes before they picked up the free kick.
“We also need to change a little bit and keep the ball more. We’ve got to get back to being able to handle that pressure, get out of the pressure, and create chances, which we did up [in New Jersey].”
“As a team, we need to attack a little more and I think that will come with time,” said Stavros Zarokostas. “We know New York is a high-pressing team, they’re going to come out with energy and we just need to match that.”
“The big thing isn’t worrying about what [Red Bulls II] do, we need to make sure we come out and we play our game, we have the confidence to get back in there and get ourselves rolling,” said Anhaeuser.
As of posting, Nico Rittmeyer and Mauro Cichero are out.
Charleston Battery vs. New York Red Bulls II
Sunday, May 23 – 2:00 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 also stream on ESPN+.