It was a frustrating night for the Charleston Battery, who suffered only their third loss of the season against St Louis FC on Saturday night.
The game was quite open for long periods of the game, but both sides seemed a little skittish and disconnected in the attacking third, often relying on set pieces to create chances, and it was a free kick that was the Battery’s undoing, when Octavio Guzman squeezed a free kick at the near post past Odisnel Cooper in goal. Despite their best efforts, which included no less than four corners following the goal, the Battery couldn’t find themselves an equalizer, and fell to their third defeat of the season.
In the third minute, St. Louis got a cross into the box which was redirected on goal, but wouldn’t trouble Odisnel Cooper between the sticks as it went wide.
There was trouble of a different sort for the Battery when Dante Marini went down under a challenge on the far side of the pitch, and would then have to be replaced by Kotaro Higashi shortly after receiving treatment. With Romario Williams on international duty, and Attaula Guerra also sidelined through injury, the knock to Marini couldn’t come at a worse time for the Black and Yellow.
The Battery’s first chance came just before the quarter of an hour mark when Ricky Garbanzo would pass to Heviel Cordoves, whose shot low and two the left was saved by Adam Grinwis in goal as he palmed it behind for a corner, which was taken short and crossed to the back post to Skylar Thomas, but he couldn’t keep his header on target.
Justin Portillo would have a chance a couple minutes later, when he lined up a free kick just outside the box. His shot at goal looked menacing off his boot, but was deflected behind by the wall for a corner, which would eventually fizzle out as they couldn’t fashion a chance from a succession of corners from either side.
In the 21st, Quinton Griffith found himself in a spot of bother when he got beat down the right side which would eventually force Odisnel Cooper into a save, before the ball was cleared.
A St. Louis corner on 27′ would be cleared off the line in what was the Battery’s first real scare of the evening, and they survived thanks to Heviel Cordoves, who was, ironically, the last to get in position to defend the set piece.
On 29′, Cordoves would play set up man when he would control a ball from deep and lay off for Maikel Chang, who would drop a shoulder to give himself some space for a shot before he would curl an effort toward the top corner that would go painstakingly wide.
A Battery free kick was wasted when a whistle would blow for a foul on a St. Louis player in the box, which meant the ball would go the other way.
Odisnel Cooper would make a save from a shot from the top of the box and distribute quickly to find Naveal Hackshaw, who combined with Chang, and then the winger would find Cordoves who would again be denied by the home side’s ‘keeper, and the corner that followed would go wanting.
The Battery had one more chance before the break in another free kick, that went begging again as it went over the bar.
The game in itself was stop-start, given that the referee seemed to want to be too involved in the first 45, but both teams would have to find a way to overcome that if they wanted to get anything out of the game.
Naveal Hackshaw would give away a dangerous free kick when he leaned into a player trying to stop a break on 49’, and Octavio Guzman would step up, eventually giving Cooper no chance as he was flat footed, though the referee would again spot an infringement, blowing his whistle and waving the goal off as the Battery would breathe a sigh of relief.
A Battery corner at the other end a minute later would be headed wide by Taylor Mueller, who came off of a head-to-head collision the worse for wear, though he would be cleared to play on after receiving treatment.
There were more scares for the visitors on 54′, when an errant pass in the back led to a rushed clearance before a chance could be fashioned, but it wouldn’t bode well for the defense.
The home side would have a corner a couple minutes later, which would only go harmlessly across goal and wide.
On the hour mark came a chance for the Battery at the other end, when Cordoves and Chang would combine on the left before Chang’s lay off to Justin Portillo set him up for a shot, but the effort was straight at the ‘keeper.
A St. Louis free kick would be cleared a few minutes later and the Battery would be quick to start a counter, only for it to break down when they got to the top of the box.
On 64′ a Quinton Griffith cross would force the goalkeeper to redirect as it seemed to give him a little more trouble as it was meant to, curling toward goal, and so he would stretch to palm away long enough so that not even the oncoming Kotaro Higashi could make much of the chance.
Two minutes later, the Battery had a free kick cleared, but would reset and send the ball back in and force a corner, which would again be wasted.
On 71’ the referee would give a free kick to St. Louis on the left of the box, taken again by Octavio Guzman. He took his time to line up what he was going to do with the chance, and then formed the ball around the wall and down into the bottom near corner of the goal. Odisnel Cooper would get a hand to the effort, but was caught off guard, expecting a cross from such a position. He maybe would say he could’ve done better with the effort, as a ‘keeper shouldn’t get beat at his near post, but the Battery as a team had themselves to blame for not taking the game to the home side earlier.
Going behind did seem to pick the visitors up a little bit. They had a free kick in a threatening position on 73′, but it would only lead to a goal kick for St. Louis.
A corner taken by Justin Portillo on 81′ was sent away, but back in before the goalkeeper would come and claim to snuff out the danger.
On 84’ a Battery corner was punched away, only for Naveal Hackshaw to arrow a shot back in, but it would rise well over the bar.
The Battery would again force a corner a minute later, but this one would perhaps be the least dangerous and be cleared easily.
On 88, Cordeves would pick the pocket of a defender, and though he couldn’t find room to force an effort on goal, his cross would find a teammate, though no one could control but the home side would smuggle away for another corner, which would again be forced away.
And though four minutes of added time would be added on, the Battery couldn’t break down the defense, giving them their third loss of the season.
They face a tough test next, too, travelling to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies on July 22nd. Kick off is at 7:30PM, and you can watch the match on MyTV Charleston, or stream it on the club’s website.
TOP IMAGE: TAH BRIAN ANUNGA BATTLES FOR A HEADER IN THE BATTERY’S PREVIOUS MEETING WITH STLFC THIS YEAR. ANUNGA WAS AN UNUSED SUB TONIGHT. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY