The Charleston Battery were eliminated from the US Open Cup by Atlanta United on Thursday night
In a game which had been rearranged and moved due to inclement weather from Tuesday in Charleston, the Battery struck first before conceding late and were forced into extra time, where a Brandon Vazquez brace would be the difference between the Battery and a place in the Round of 16.
The visitors had the better of the early goings, with Romario Piggott creating the first real chance of the game, in space on the right but unable to get any power behind his shot and providing an easy save for Alec Kann in goal.
After 20′, the Battery capitalized on a sleepy start by Atlanta, winning the ball high up the pitch through AJ Paterson, who slid the ball to Ian Svantesson at the top of the box, before the striker would go across goal with a shot that pinged off the far post and opened the scoring for his side.
It was a wonderfully taken finish and came virtually out of nothing, though Paterson did well to stay with play and have the awareness to intercept at just the right moment.
Just a few minutes later, however, the home side would begin to threaten. Andrew Carleton would force a corner that would eventually leave Phil Breno having to make the stop on a shot that was similar to Svantesson’s goal through bodies as the ball was being cleared, but the Battery would survive.
Carleton again would create just past the half hour mark, when he got to the byline and nearly sneaked a ball in at the far post, but his attempt was cleared by an onrushing Taylor Mueller.
Brek Shea then almost capitalized on virtually the same move on 35′, when he went across the ‘keeper at the byline, but this time the effort went behind for a goal kick.
On 44′, Florentin Pogba would nearly head his side level from a corner, but the shot would eventually go wide.
In first half stoppage time, Romario Williams would connect with a cross from the left, forcing Breno into another save as his side went into the break in front.
It was a good start from the visitors, though they would have plenty left to do if they were to qualify for the next round.
Pity Martinez would then set up Williams for another opportunity the other side of half time, once again forcing Breno into a save on 52′.
Atlanta began to apply more and more pressure throughout the course of the second half before Breno would have to get down expertly to his left to save what looked to be a certain goal from a Pity Martinez free kick on 71′ as the ball looked destined for the bottom corner with power, bouncing along the ground.
But then, on 78′, an Atlanta corner beat Phil Breno at the back post, with Miles Robinson there to head it on, and Romario Williams crashed in to equalize.
In truth, it was a goal that was coming. But for it to happen when it did, after such a great effort defensively, was tough for the Battery to handle.
The game would eventually go into extra time, which allowed both teams time to compose themselves, and started as open as two teams with tired legs could be, though Justin Meram had a huge chance just after the second half of extra time began, when he headed a ball from the right down into the ground and forced a reflex save out of Phil Breno.
But then, on 110′, Meram would fit a ball through the defense at the top of the box for the onrushing Brandon Vazquez, who would take a touch to round the ‘keeper and put his side in front.
It was admittedly a great goal, but showed how tired the Black and Yellow were from defending for the majority of the second half. This wasn’t to say that the Battery hadn’t played well, but did lack an outlet up front after doing so much tracking back.
Nicque Daley then thought he had equalized on 116′, following a rebound from a shot from the top of the box that was saved, but he was given offside.
With two minutes of extra time to go, Dante Marini fed the ball through at the top of the box for Arthur Bosua, though he had trouble controlling the ball, and his effort to chip the ‘keeper would bounce off of the bar and back out into the hands of Alec Kann.
Brandon Vazquez would then put the game beyond the Battery’s reach as we approached the 120th minute, latching on to a cross from the left that beat everyone in Black and Yellow as he poked it home for 3-1.
The scoreline flattered the hosts, and was more an indication that the Battery had run out of gas after 120 minutes of hard work, especially given the injury bug that has been plaguing the side all season.
And that’s how it finished, the Battery crashed out of the Open Cup, but gave a good account of themselves, perhaps the only drawback being that they needed to take more of the chances they created earlier in the game before the hosts found their footing.
The Battery next face the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, June 15th. Kick off is at 6:30PM.
TOP IMAGE: FORMER BATTERY STRIKER ROMARIO WILLIAMS (PICTURED DURING 2018 CAROLINA CHALLENGE CUP) SCORED THE EQUALIZER IN A 3-1 ATLANTA WIN OVER THE BATTERY. CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY