Arthur Ellis photo.
Charleston Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser earned his 200th win Saturday night as his side defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 1-0, at MUSC Health Stadium.
The Battery started on the front foot, creating chances almost immediately. Patrick Okonkwo broke free down the right side and got to the endline in the third minute, but Dominic Oduro intercepted Okonkwo’s cutback and knocked it out for a corner kick.
Nothing came of the ensuing set piece, but the Battery opened the scoring a few minutes later.
Tah Brian Anunga won a strong header in midfield, nodding the ball to Ian Svantesson who slipped Okonkwo through down the right side. Okonkwo outpaced is defender and tucked the ball in off the far post to score his fourth goal in three games.
“It’s confidence,” said Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser of Okonkwo’s form. “Even in training sessions, he’s knocking in goals. He’s kicking it in with his right, his left, he’s knocking it in with his knee, his shoulder, his head… and that’s what you have to do as a striker. He’s on fire.”
The Rowdies’ best chance in the half came in the 35th minute from a set piece that ended with Leo Fernandes free just outside of the penalty area on the left side. Fernandes served a low cross that beat Joe Kuzminsky at the near post and fell to Sebastian Guenzatti’s feet, but the striker couldn’t turn it on frame from five yards out.
The Rowdies kept possession of the ball for a large majority of the second half, but rarely threatened Kuzminsky’s goal. Kuzminsky made three saves on the night to earn his 11th clean sheet of the season. Charleston did not concede a goal in three matches against the Rowdies this year.
The win temporarily moves the Battery into third place, one point above Louisville City FC whose match with FC Cincinnati was suspended in the 38th minute Saturday night.
“It feels amazing to get another win here at home,” said Okonkwo after the match. “We’ve really, really worked hard for the past couple of days. Coming into this day, we had a plan. That plan was to win and get the three points. I’m very grateful that we won and I’m very grateful that I got to score again. I think we’re going to come in next week and keep it going.”
The Battery remains at home next week to take on Charlotte Independence on Saturday, September 15.
CHARLESTON - Joe Kuzminsky, Leland Archer, Taylor Mueller, Skylar Thomas, Jay Bolt (yellow card, 55), Tah Brian Anuga, Angelo Kelly, Nico Rittmeyer, Kotaro Higashi (O’Brian Woodbine, 75), Patrick Okonkwo (goal, 22, Victor Mansaray, 90+1), Ian Svantesson (Gordon Wild, 62)
Substitutes - Odisnel Cooper, Ryan Arambula, Neveal Hackshaw, Dante Marini
TAMPA - Daniel Vega, Pape Diakite, Tarek Morad, Hunter Gorskie, Junior Flemmings (Georgi Hristov, 55), Leo Fernandes (Zac Portillos, 62), Joe Cole (Alex Morell, 68), Afrim Taku, Dominic Oduro, Kwadwo Poku, Sebastian Guenzatti (yellow card, 82)
Substitutes - Akira Fitzgerald, Kyle Porter, Martin Vingaard, Lance Rozeboom