Zach Bland photo.
The Charleston Battery head to Lehigh Valley on Sunday to take on Bethlehem Steel FC in their second of four straight road games. The match is set to kick off at 3:00 PM at Goodman Stadium.
The Battery suffered a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the New York Red Bulls II last Saturday at Red Bull Arena. Despite the final scoreline, the match was even through the first 45 minutes, with the hosts grabbing a late goal to take a 1-0 lead into the break.
The Red Bulls added four goals in the second half to hand the Battery their second loss of the season. Tah Brian Anunga scored both of Charleston’s goals, doubling his total from last season. The 5-2 defeat was the first time a Mike Anhaeuser led Battery side has given up more than four goals in a USL match.
The Battery will look to bounce back this weekend against Bethlehem Steel FC, a side they’ve had good success against over the last two seasons. Charleston is 3-0-1 in the four matches between the two sides since Bethlehem entered the league in 2016, outscoring the Steel 4-1.
Ataulla Guerra has been especially effective against Bethlehem. The Trinidadian playmaker has scored three of his eight career Charleston Battery goals against the Steel, including the decisive goal in the Battery’s 1-0 win at MUSC Health Stadium last May. Guerra will have the opportunity to add to his goal tally against a Steel team that has allowed 45 shots in their first three matches.
Bethlehem enters the match ahead of the Battery in the table on goal difference. The Steel defeated Richmond, 4-1, in their opening match then dropped results on the road in Tampa and at home to Nashville.
Bethlehem Head Coach Brendan Burke brought back 10 players from his side that reached the playoffs last season and added 15 new faces. Four of Bethlehem’s top five goal-scorers in 2017 are back for 2018 including Cory Burke who has proven a handful for the Battery defense in the past.
Brandon Allen, who joined the Steel after spending last season with MLS side Minnesota United, will be a major threat in the attacking third on Sunday afternoon. Allen scored 15 goals for New York Red Bulls II on their way to the 2016 USL Championship and has picked up where he left off early on in 2018. Allen scored twice in Bethlehem’s victory over Richmond at Goodman Stadium on March 17.
Bethlehem will be without defender Brandon Aubrey against the Battery. Aubrey was sent off in the fifth minute of Bethlehem’s 1-0 loss to Nashville last weekend. Aubrey started all three of the Steel’s matches this season and looked to be a key figure in the team’s plans defensively.
Both teams will be pressing hard for three points Sunday afternoon to keep pace with the top of the Eastern Conference. The match will be broadcast live on MyTV Charleston and streamed live on charlestonbattery.com.