Matchday Two of the Carolina Challenge Cup took place on Wednesday, with the hosts Charleston Battery opening the night against the Columbus Crew.
The Battery and Crew share a little bit of history, as well as the same colors, but the Battery were in Black and White as part of a commemoration of their 25th anniversary, while the Crew donned their Black and Yellow away strip.
The Battery again gave a good showing, and opened the scoring on 25 minutes, when a Justin Portillo corner skimmed off the head of Forrest Lasso and into the bottom corner. The Crew began to press a little more in search of an equalizer toward the end of the first half, but it wasn’t until the second, and an Own Goal on the hour mark from Tah Brian Anunga that Columbus found the telling equalizer.
Defender Harrison Afful created the first chance of the evening after six minutes, when his cross sought out Frederico Higuain. Higuaín scored two goals in the Crew’s opening match, but couldn’t add to his tally here as his shot of the volley was deflected.
A Dante Marini handball led to a free kick about 20 yards out, but the dangerous set piece was sent over the bar.
Jeffery Otoo was involved in a lot of good things tonight, and his first involvement of the night was to play Romario Williams in for a 1v1 with the ‘keeper, but he tried to place it and hit the shot wide.
But the hosts would make the early pressure tell as Justin Portillo was at the controls of a corner kick on 25’. His ball into the mixer found a rising Forrest Lasso, who aimed a header down low and into the bottom corner.
The Battery, on the scheme of things were probably the better side up until that point, and could say that their lead was deserved, but the Crew would come back at them.
The Right Back Afful was very much a threat in the first half, and was involved again as his cross on 24 caused a bit of havoc in the back. The cross was cleared by Forrest Lasso, helping out this time at the back, and the shot on the rebound was then wide.
Romario Williams would then do very well on the edge of the box to slip in Attaula Guerra, but the linesman put his flag up for offside, cancelling out the 1v1 in which the attacker rounded the ‘keeper.
The Crew would have a succession of corners close to half time, but nothing came of the set pieces, and the battery would go in at halftime with the 1-0 advantage.
Romario Williams would set up a counter on 47’, but his cross would be cut out.
A Dante Marini ball would find Williams on 53′ but his shot would go over the bar.
Some good build up play eventually found Nico Hanson in the box, who had the goal at his mercy with the onrushing ‘Keeper, but the shot hit the post. ‘
A Justin Portillo free kick on the left wing near the hour mark would bounce through and hit the post before being cleared by the Crew defense. The ball set up a counter that led to a Crew free kick after Taylor Meuller fouled Justin Miram.
The free kick was powered toward the middle, and in his attempt to hastily clear, Tah Brian Anunga would send the ball on frame and into his own net.
But four minutes later, a great first touch by sub Kotaro Higashi would play in Guerra, who was unlucky as his shot hit the post.
Around the 68th minute, a worrying sight for Battery fans came as Maikel Chang would come off injured, but he’d be replaced by Nico Rittmeyer.
Heviel Cordoves would come on in the second half. and would take down a free kick well on 83 and shoot on the turn, but his effort was saved as it was destined for the top corner.
Four minutes later, the Battery had some good buildup fall to Cordoves again, who played in a pass for the overlapping run, but the ball wouldn’t trouble the defense as it went over the bar.
More late heroics may have been on offer as the Battery got a free kick late on in stoppage time, but the ball didn’t trouble the ‘keeper as it was cleared.
And so, the Battery finished their 2nd game of the tournament with two points in the standings, but they can be pleased with the way they’d performed so early in the season, and will be hopefull of continuing such form as they go into the season proper.
The second match of the evening between Atlanta and Seattle ended 4-2 after Atlanta took a quick early lead through first half goals from Josef Martinez, a penalty from Miguel Almiron and a third from Hector Villalba before Martinez added to his tally with a tasty chip for 4-0 early in the second half, though Seattle would answer with two of their own, making the final score 4-2.
The Carolina Challenge Cup concludes this Saturday, when the Columbus Crew take on the Seattle Sounders, before the Battery and Atlanta United finish out the tournament.
TOP IMAGE: FORREST LASSO RISES HIGHEST ON A CORNER KICK TO PUT THE BATTERY AHEAD. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO