Toronto FC II photo.
Coming off their first win in six weeks, the Charleston Battery (6-3-7) travels to Cary, NC this weekend to take on North Carolina FC (5-8-3) at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday night.
The Battery earned three points last Sunday, defeating Toronto FC II, 4-0, at BMO Field. The win was Charleston’s first since May 12. During the winless run, the Battery lost just once, managing five draws along the way to keep them in a playoff position within striking distance of the top four.
In the win at BMO Field, the Battery scored multiple goals in a game for the first time since May 30 and picked up their first road win since April 24. Ataulla Guerra opened the scoring against, netting his team-high eighth goal of the season. Guerra’s eight goals have him tied for third most in the league, one off league-leader Kharlton Belmar of Swope Park Rangers.
North Carolina FC also have a prolific goal scorer in Daniel Rios. Rios scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season in a 2-2 draw with Louisville City FC on June 23 in Cary. The 23-year old forward came on as a second-half substitute in NCFC’s last outing, a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh Riverhounds on the Fourth of July.
The Battery have been strong defensively throughout the season, including the six game winless streak, conceding just 16 goals in 16 games. Joe Kuzminsky earned his sixth and the team’s seventh shutout in Toronto on Sunday, but was only forced to make one save due to solid efforts of Taylor Mueller and the rest of the Battery defense.
O’Brian Woodbine shined on both ends of BMO Field Sunday night. Being deployed as a wing back, Woodbine moved up and down the right flank freely tracking back to defend and getting into the attacking third to create chances. The Jamaican defender recorded two assists and scored a goal, which landed him on the USL Team of the Week for Week 16. Woodbine now has two assists and two goals in four USL appearances this season.
The Battery will be looking for more of the same from Woodbine in the attacking third Saturday night in Cary. Charleston found the attacking rhythm that was lacking in the three matches prior to the win in Toronto Sunday night and will be aiming to keep it going against a North Carolina team that has forced former Battery goalkeeper Alex Tambakis into an Eastern Conference-high 51 saves so far this season.
Despite the distance between the two sides in the table, thirteenth-place North Carolina is only seven points behind the sixth-place Battery heading into Saturday’s match. Both teams will be pressing hard for three points to move up the Eastern Conference Standings as we pass the halfway point of the season.