As the 2019 USL season moves into sharper focus for the Charleston Battery, the club have announced their full slate of pre-season fixtures before their opener against the Ottawa Fury on March 9.
The Black and Yellow will host the 2019 edition of the Carolina Challenge Cup, along with FC Cincinnati, Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew beginning on February 16th, with double headers that Saturday, Wednesday, February 20th, and the following Saturday, the 23rd, but before then will face the College of Charleston on February 10th.
Kick off is scheduled for 10AM, but the site of the match is still to be determined.
It’ll be Cincinnati first up in the CCC for the Battery, as the late kick off in the first double header at 7:30. This mimics FC Cincy’s time in USL, where the Battery would regularly open their regular season against MLS’ newest entrants.
Then, on the second CCC matchday, it’ll be the Columbus Crew in the early, 5PM kick off of the midweek doubleheader. Last year’s winners have had a busy time in 2018, with their fans fighting to keep their team in Ohio, new ownership that promised as such, and a new coach in Caleb Porter after Gregg Berhalter became manager of the US Men’s National Team, it’ll be interesting to see what changes have been made after such an eventful year.
The Battery then close out the CCC with the late, 7:30 kick off against the Chicago Fire. The Fire see the return of Bastian Schweinsteiger ahead of their 2019 season, and the possibility of seeing a World Cup winner in Charleston is perhaps the biggest draw of this year’s tournament. It was a year to forget for the Fire in 2018, who failed to capitalize on the promise of the year before and failed to make the playoffs. Despite this, they gave their manager a contract extension and retained some key players from last year, so it’ll be interesting to see the early days of any changes they will have made.
Four days later, February 27th, the Battery will host Coastal Carolina at 7PM. Like CofC, Coastal is a regular preseason opponent. The two schools have a good relationship with the club, with players from both institutions counting the Battery as a step in their professional careers.
The Black and Yellow will then close out the preseason against North Carolina FC on March 2nd. Kick off is at 2PM, and will serve as a real litmus test against a USL opponent for the new season. The group of players will have been together for around a month by then, so whilst the tests against MLS opposition will be mouthwatering, the NCFC game will perhaps be more indicative of where the squad is at after time and shared experience together.
And then, seven days later, is the start of the USL season. Everything seems a little bit closer now given the first preseason game is only ten games away, and with everything finally announced, we can finally say we’re truly into the home stretch.