The Charleston Battery showed definite signs of rust in what was only their second game in the space of five weeks on Saturday, falling to a demoralizing 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
After a disastrous month of July that included having three matches postponed due to weather, and a traffic accident on the way to a game, the Battery returned home on Saturday hoping to find momentum for the second half of their season, though it wasn’t to be on this particular evening.
The night started off poorly for the home side, with Tah Brian Anunga being dispossessed on the wing straight from kick off, which led to a swift Rowdies counter attack as Sebastian Guenzatti found Lucky Mkosana in the middle of the area with a cross from the right, who opened the scoring past a sprawling Joe Kuzminsky in goal.
It was the worst possible start for the Battery, and it would only get worse as the Rowdies were quick to create another chance, creating overloads on the left side of the box and finding space, Guenzatti having the shot after turning his defender, beating Kuzminsky with a shot, but hitting the post, though a missed clearance would fall to the feet of the goalscorer Mkosana, who would pick up the pieces and double the lead.
And so, the home side found themselves down by a pair of goals before they even had a chance to breathe. After such a horrible month filled with uncertainty and false starts, a slow start would’ve been warranted, but two goals in such a short space of time was not what the Battery would’ve wanted.
A Tampa free kick was given after 13′, roughly 25 yards from goal, but went high and wide over Joe Kuzminsky’s goal.
After 21′, Attaula Guerra was booked for a collision outside the Tampa Bay penalty area as he tried to earn the ball back. He would clearly take issue with being handed the caution, which would become one to monitor as the first half went on.
The Battery gained a bit of a foothold in the game after that, though the Rowdies worked hard to keep the game in front of them and wouldn’t budge much in terms of clear cut chances.
Shortly after the half hour mark, the Rowdies would earn a corner, and put set up a marker in front of Kuzminsky as it was taken in from the left, catching Kuzminsky off guard and beating him at the far post straight from the corner.
Just before half time, Attaula Guerra was once again pulled up for a foul, this time given his marching orders after a second bookable offense, meaning that the Battery, who had already dug themselves a hole, would play injury time in the first half, and the entirety of the second, with 10 men.
The half time whistle blew shortly after, with Jay Bolt replacing Kotaro Higashi at half time. Coach Mike Anhaeuser is rarely known for making substitutions at half time, though at three goals and a man down, the thinking may’ve been that the added defensive abilities of Bolt would provide something the Battery needed.
The Battery started the second half just as they had the first, and the Rowdies again would score with their first chance. A cross in from the right by Malik Johnson would find Zach Steinberger in space, who would slot the ball home for 4-0.
The three man back line of Leland Archer, Taylor Mueller, and Jarad van Schaik were too narrow all night, and in a back three, you need the wing backs to track back and effectively play both sides of the ball, which simply was not happening, and the Rowdies were taking advantage.
After 57′, the Rowdies had a free kick in a dangerous area that cracked the post and popped out before it was shuffled away by the Battery defense.
Shortly after the hour mark, substitute Dante Marini would go the closest his side would come to finding a consolation goal to that point, with his curling effort going narrowly wide of the far post from distance.
As we reached the 78th minute, a last ditch tackle from Taylor Mueller would be the difference between the Rowdies and a fifth on the night, and the corner that followed was caught by Kuzminsky, who would launch a counter.
The break would lead to the first Battery shot on target with a little over ten minutes to go, as Marini took space up the left side, playing a 1-2 pass with fellow substitute Ian Svantesson, though his shot from the edge of the box would be deflected into the arms of the Tampa ‘keeper.
But Tampa would have one more chance, this time down their right side, with some good play before finding themselves in the box, with Sebastian Guenzatti available in the middle to tap in at the front post, as the Battery went 5-0 down.
All in all, it was a bad night for the Battery. Though the rust was to be expected with the amount of postponements in the last month, a 5-0 loss at home is not at all what the Battery needed.
And yet, the only way to get past it is to move on to the next game, which, for the Battery comes away from home against St Louis FC on Saturday, August 10. Kick off is at 8:30.
PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY