The Charleston Battery (4-2-2; 14 pts) enters Saturday’s match against Bethlehem Steel FC (2-3-2; 8 pts) in search of their fourth win in a row. The Battery are coming off of a 2-0 win over Charlotte Independence at MUSC Health Stadium.
Ataulla Guerra scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season in the 31st minute against the Independence. Guerra received a pass from Gordon Wild on a counterattack and calmly tucked his shot into the bottom right corner of Andrew Dykstra’s goal. Guerra’s four goals have him tied for fourth-most in the USL. The goal against Charlotte was his third in four games.
Substitute Victor Mansaray scored his first goal for the Club in the 87th minute to seal the victory. Mansaray received a drop pass from Kotaro Higashi and finished it first-time from about 20 yards out.
Joe Kuzminsky earned his third consecutive shutout in the match. Kuzminsky and the Battery have not given up a goal in 270 minutes of USL play. Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser applauded his side’s defensive effort after the win and identified Tah Brian Anunga and Vincenzo Candela as key to shutting down opposing teams.
Along with the defensive midfielders, the Battery’s back three of Taylor Mueller, Skylar Thomas, and Neveal Hackshaw have been solid throughout the team’s five game unbeaten run. The trio has only given up ten shots on target and two goals in their previous five matches.
Bethlehem also enters Saturday’s match with winning momentum after defeating the Richmond Kickers, 3-1, at home last Sunday. The Steel conceded first, but battled back to earn their second win of the season against the Kickers. Chris Nanco, Matt Real, and Santi Moar all scored in the victory.
Bethlehem is winless on the road so far this season, losing their only two matches away from home. The Steel lost, 3-1, to Louisville City FC on April 28 and were beaten, 1-0, by the Tampa Bay Rowdies on March 24. Following the match against the Battery, Bethlehem will return home for one game before heading out on a three-game road trip.
The two sides split the points in the first meeting on April 8 at Goodman Stadium. Skylar Thomas scored his first goal in a Battery jersey to put Charleston ahead in the 42nd minute, but Cory Burke equalized minutes later. The game ended 1-1, with both teams feeling like they could have gotten more.
Saturday’s match will likely be vastly different than the one in April. The Battery will be pressing hard to push their winning streak to four games, while the Steel will be looking to get their first road win of the season.