Atlanta United photo.
The Charleston Battery (13-5-14) travels to Lawrenceville, Georgia to take on Atlanta United 2 (5-17-9) Sunday afternoon at Coolray Field in their second-to-last game of the regular season.
The Battery is coming off of their fifth loss of the season, suffered at the hands of last-place Toronto FC II Saturday night at MUSC Health Stadium. Atlanta United loanee, Patrick Okonkwo, scored his fifth goal of the season in the 52nd minute to put the Battery ahead, but Toronto battled back to score two unanswered goals and steal three points on the road.
Saturday’s match was the first time the Battery failed to earn at least a point when scoring first. Prior to the loss to TFC II, Charleston had taken 46 of a possible 63 points when taking the lead in a match. Despite the loss, the Battery remains in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a five point lead on fifth-place Indy Eleven heading into the weekend.
They’ll have an opportunity to get back to their winning ways on Sunday against a team they’ve beaten twice this season. The Battery defeated Atlanta United 2, 3-0, at Coolray Field in the first ever meeting between the two teams on April 24, then earned a 1-0 win at home in August. Ian Svantesson scored in both games, while Atlanta United loanee, Gordon Wild, netted a brace in the first meeting.
ATL UTD 2 is coming off of a midweek draw with Tampa Bay Rowdies. Atlanta battled from behind to salvage a point against the Rowdies at home with a stoppage time goal from Miles Robinson.
With just five wins on the season, Atlanta has been eliminated from playoff contention. Sunday’s match against the Battery is their fifth of seven straight home games to end the season.
The Battery can clinch a home playoff game Saturday night if Indy Eleven drop points in their match against Bethlehem Steel FC. A draw or an Indy loss would secure a home game for the Battery in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
If Indy take full points against Bethlehem, the Battery would need to beat Atlanta United 2 on Sunday to clinch a home game in the first round. It is still possible for Charleston to move into second or third place if they take a full six points from their final two matches.
Second-place Louisville City FC and third-place Pittsburgh Riverhounds both have 57 points with three games left to play. Pittsburgh hosts FC Cincinnati Saturday night while Louisville will travel to Toronto Friday night. A win for either team will put them out of the Battery’s reach.
Following the trip to Atlanta, the Battery will travel to Canada to take on Ottawa Fury FC in the final match of the regular season. Ottawa is idle this weekend and could be out of the top eight by Saturday night depending on results around the league.