Indy Eleven photo.
The Charleston Battery (6-3-8) hosts Indy Eleven (8-5-4) at MUSC Health Stadium for the first time in history Wednesday night. The two clubs drew, 3-3, in their only previous meeting which came on May 30 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The sixth-place Battery returns home Wednesday night after earning four points from back-to-back road matches in Toronto and North Carolina. After exploding for four goals against TFC II on July 1, the Battery were held to a 1-1 draw with North Carolina FC last Saturday.
Ataulla Guerra scored his league-leading ninth goal in the draw in Cary. The Trinidadian striker collected a pass from Tah Brian Anunga, beat two defenders, and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Alex Tambakis to score his second goal in as many games.
NCFC’s Daniel Rios was able to equalize in the 83rd minute, drawing himself level on nine goals with Guerra and four other players in the golden boot race. NCFC hit the post and had a shot cleared off the line in the dying minutes of the match and the Battery escaped with their eleventh road point of the season.
Indy Eleven came from behind to earn a 2-1 win against Charlotte Independence at home in their last outing. Ben Speas and Carlyle Mitchell scored Indy’s goals, helping them close out a three-match week with a win.
Indy will travel to Charleston on Wednesday to play their first of four straight road matches, while the Battery will stay at home for back-to-back games. The Battery will be looking to use their home field advantage to close the two-point gap between themselves and fourth-place Indy.
The Eleven are one of the Eastern Conference’s best road teams, while the Battery has proven difficult to beat at MUSC Health Stadium. Indy’s only loss away from Lucas Oil Stadium this season came to New York Red Bulls II on May 27. The Battery is unbeaten in their previous nine matches at home, with their only loss in 2018 coming to FC Cincinnati on the opening day of the season.
The last meeting between Indy and Charleston was a six-goal affair despite both being amongst the league’s top defensive teams. The Battery battled back from behind to go ahead 2-1 in the 80th minute, only to see themselves fall behind again after Ayoze Garcia scored goals in the 86th and 91st minutes. Anunga rescued a point for the Battery with a 94th minute equalizer.
Wednesday’s match will likely be more defensive than the first; neither team has given up more than two goals in a match since the 3-3 draw on May 30. The Battery has earned five shutouts at home this season, giving up just three goals in eight games at MUSC Health Stadium. Expect that defensive form to continue Saturday night, regardless of who’s playing in the back.
At the other end of the field, Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser will continue to rely on Guerra to score goals, but will be hopeful that Kotaro Higashi and Gordon Wild can continue their scoring form. After failing to score during the entire 2017 season, Higashi has scored twice in his last four games. Wild tallied his fourth goal of the season against Toronto FC II, putting him behind Guerra for the second-most on the team. Both will be looking to take advantage of the spaces created by Guerra in the attacking third against Indy to add to their goal totals.
The Battery will remain at home following Wednesday’s match with Indy. They’ll take on reigning USL Champions Louisville City FC Saturday night at 7:00 PM, followed by fireworks on the field with the team.