Richmond Kickers photo.
The Charleston Battery (9-3-9) returns home to host the Richmond Kickers (5-10-3) Saturday night at MUSC Health Stadium. The Battery enters the match in the middle of a seven-game unbeaten streak that has moved them up the table and into second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Battery’s last loss came on June 9 at the hands of this Saturday’s opponent at City Stadium. The Battery were without leading goal scorer Ataulla Guerra and were shut out for the fourth time this season in the 2-0 loss to Richmond last month.
Since the loss to the Kickers, Charleston has earned four wins and three draws as they worked their way through a difficult stretch of matches that included four games against teams above them in the table at the time. During the seven-game unbeaten run, the Battery has only given up four goals, earning three shutouts along the way. Most recently, the Battery defeated the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 1-0, at Highmark Stadium.
Guerra scored in the 88th minute against the run of play to steal three points for the Battery in Pittsburgh. Charleston were pinned back in their defensive third for the majority of the match, forcing goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky into action on several occasions. Kuzminsky made four saves, including denying Neco Brett from the penalty spot, to earn his seventh shutout and the Battery’s third win on the road this season.
Guerra’s goal was his league-leading 11th of the season and fourth in five games. With 11 goals and two assists, Guerra has had a direct hand in almost half of the Battery’s 28 goals this season. The 30-year old forward also leads the Battery in chances created with 23.
Richmond has won just once since their 2-0 win over the Battery in June, giving up 17 goals in the seven games since. Their lone win came against Penn FC on July 9. The 2-1 victory over Penn was David Bulow’s first win as head coach. Bulow replaced Leigh Cowlishaw after the long-time head coach stepped down from his role at the end of June.
Former Battery striker Heviel Cordoves looks likely to miss Saturday's match after picking up an injury in Richmond's win over Penn FC earlier this month. Cordoves has scored in three of the last four meetings between the rivals, including the decisive goal in his first match against the Battery in June. He's currently second on the Kickers' roster in scoring with four goals.
The Battery is looking for their tenth win of the season and seventh win at MUSC Health Stadium Saturday night against a Kickers team that has a 1-6-0 record on the road in 2018. Richmond has conceded 21 goals in their seven road games this season, but the Battery has only scored 11 in their ten matches at MUSC Health Stadium. Guerra and the other Battery attackers will be hoping to find the back of the net early and often against a Kickers side that is coming off of a mid-week friendly with La Liga's RCD Espanyol to continue their strong form at home.
Saturday’s match is the 63rd meeting between the two sides. The Battery holds a slight advantage at 28-26-9. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.