The Charleston Battery began the Conor Casey era with a hard fought 1-0 win over FC Tulsa on Saturday night as they opened their 2022 USL Championship season
The goal came through Augi Williams as fellow new signing Aidan Apodaca capitalized on a bit of poor control by the Tulsa defense and raced free on the counterattack before finding Williams in the middle just outside the 18 yard box, and the striker opened his account with a bit of nice composure as he picked out the bottom corner.
Williams and Apodaca have been called upon to spearhead a new look Battery which retained 9 players from 2021, including Joe Kuzminsky, AJ Paterson and Leland Archer. The new signings, which include Mateo Rittachio, on loan from Liverpool, Dominic Oduro and former FC Tulsa defender Matt Sheldon have all been called upon to be part of Conor Casey’s high-pressing style.
While this particular game may not be the best metric to judge the style change on based on lack of chances for either side, the Black and Yellow did seem a lot more composed at the back as they held Tulsa to two shots on target, both in the second half, which is a huge improvement upon 60 goals conceded in 2021.
The goal came in just the 10th minute, as Apodaca stole the ball from his marker inside his own half, raced up the pitch beyond the last man, and then found his strike partner Williams, who applied great finesse as he sidefooted the ball home.
There weren’t many other clear-cut chances in the game, but there were many yellow cards. The game itself was not dirty, but it was physical, and there were no fewer than eight yellow cards for both according to stats, though there seemed like more.
It felt, midway through the second half, as players got tired, there would be some reckless challenges going in, and in the 55th minute, Rodrigo Da Costa was given his marching orders for an uncontrolled high boot.
He was first booked in the initial 45 for dissent, which made the second yellow even harder to take for the visitors, who were now without their talisman upfront.
Despite this, Tulsa retooled, but didn’t force Kuzminsky in the Battery goal into a real save until the 88th minute, when a cross from the right found Joaquin Rivas on the opposite side of the area and forced the ‘keeper into a reaction save at his near post to clear for a corner, which led to nothing.
The final whistle blew shortly after, officially giving the Battery all three points to start their new campaign under Conor Casey.
The Battery will next travel to Detroit to take on Detroit City FC. Kick-off is scheduled for 4PM, and the match will be streamed on ESPN+
TOP IMAGE: AUGI WILLIAMS PREPARES TO SLOT HOME THE EVENTUAL WINNING GOAL AGAINST FC TULSA, THE BATTERY’S FIRST OF 2022. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO