Maikel Chang celebrates his winning goal against Charlotte on August 27, 2016
Charleston Battery will travel to North Carolina to take on the Charlotte Independence in this season’s first Southern Derby Saturday night at Transamerica Field. The Battery heads into the rivalry match with positive momentum behind them from the 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati last week.
Justin Portillo lifted Charleston past Cincinnati at MUSC Health Stadium in the team’s home opener on March 25th. Portillo, who earned Team of the Week honors for his performance, recorded a goal and an assist against the Eastern Conference foe. The midfielder assisted Forrest Lasso’s opening goal from a corner kick in the 38th minute and scored the game-winning goal in the 71st minute, knocking in a rebound from his own saved penalty.
Romario Williams and Ataulla Guerra were also influential in the Battery’s opening night victory. Williams and Guerra carried their preseason form into the new campaign, causing the Cincinnati defense trouble throughout the night. Although they were kept off the scoresheet, the two created several scoring chances and linked up to earn the penalty that led to Portillo’s game winner.
Charlotte remained idle last weekend while Charleston picked up its first three points of the season. The Independence earned a draw against Jacksonville Armada of the NASL in a friendly on the USL’s opening night. Bilal Duckett and David Spies scored Charlotte’s goals against the Armada to earn the draw that brought the team’s preseason record to 2-1-2.
“It could go either way,” said Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser when asked whether Charlotte’s bye or Charleston’s week one momentum is a bigger advantage. “Maybe we’ll be able to catch them a bit in the opening twenty minutes or so now that we have a league game under our belts; but on the other end, they have the rested legs. We were in a physical battle last week that’s hard to replicate in a friendly, so they may be a bit fresher.”
The Southern Derby rivals split their three-game series last season, with each team taking four points. Charlotte and Charleston met on week two of the USL season a year ago at Ramblewood Soccer Complex. The Independence won, 3-2, in a game that had plenty of fireworks; Enzo Martinez, Brian Brown, and Jorge Herrera scored Charlotte’s goals, and Portillo and Williams found the back of the net for Charleston. Neither Martinez (suspended) nor Brown (Reno 1868) will feature for the Independence this Saturday.
Maikel Chang scored the only goal in the Battery’s 1-0 win at MUSC Health Stadium in the second game between the rivals last August. The teams split points in the final match of the 2016 Southern Derby series, with Williams and Caleb Calvert (Colorado Rapids) scoring in the 1-1 draw.
This weekend’s match is the first of three Southern Derbies throughout the 2017 season. The two teams will meet at MUSC Health Stadium on September 9th, then return to Charlotte for the USL season finale on October 14th.
Saturday’s match between the Charleston Battery and the Charlotte Independence kicks off at 7:00pm at Transamerica Field. Fans can watch the match on charlestonbattery.com or My TV Charleston.
The Battery will return home following the road trip to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on April 8th at MUSC Health Stadium. Tickets for the match are available and can be purchased here: charlestonbattery.com