Charleston Battery News Release - www.charlestonbattery.com
Thursday, March 11, 2010
CHARLESTON, SC -- The seventh edition of the Carolina Challenge Cup kicks off Saturday night at Blackbaud Stadium with a doubleheader pitting Major League Soccer Champions Real Salt Lake against MLS’s most successful franchise DC United, and Toronto FC versus tournament host, the Charleston Battery.
The round robin format opens with Real Salt Lake facing DC at 5 p.m., followed by the Battery and Toronto at 7:15 p.m.
“The CCC is a fantastic tournament for the Charleston Battery players, fans and community as we will get to see our team up against some of the best Clubs in the MLS in Real Salt Lake, DC United and Toronto FC,” said Battery head coach Mike Anhaeuser.
“We look forward to the challenge and I know our players and fans are ready to see some great soccer action at Blackbaud Stadium.”
The Battery enters the tournament with just a week of preseason training in the books. Sixth-year head coach Michael Anhaeuser has revamped the Battery squad for the 2010 campaign with notable new signings, including Brazilian striker Amaury Nunes and Senegalese midfielder Alioune Gueye.
Anhaeuser also added a pair of Europeans in English midfielder Mark Briggs and Irish defender Colin Falvey plus signed former Atlanta Silverbacks midfielder Josh Bolton. The 21-year-old prospect Pierre-Rudolph Mayard joins the Battery on a season-long loan.
Returnees from the Battery’s 2009 squad that fell in the USL-1 playoffs include defenders Yeniel Bermudez, Nigel Marples, O’Brian Woodbine and Patrick Tate. Goalkeeper Keith Wiggans and forwards Stephen Armstrong and Tom Heinemann also return with veteran defender and Seneca, SC native John Wilson, who is also expected to join the squad in time for the Challenge Cup matches.
Most notably absent from the Battery roster is all-time leading goalkeeper Dusty Hudock, who retired after suffering an ACL tear late in the 2009 season. Former College of Charleston goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap who grew up in Lexington, SC and also attended Clemson University is on trial with the Club and could feature this weekend.
As usual the tournament will also be used as a testing ground for several trialists brought in to compete for roster spots. This year’s crop of prospects include San Jose Earthquakes defender Mike Zaher, Jamaican defender Lance Laing and Virginia Wesleyan College striker Brandon Massie.
Former Wilmington Hammerheads winger Chris Murray, Rollins College stand-out Jon Gruenewald and recent College of Charleston product Zach Prince will provide some attacking options in midfield.
Forward Levi Coleman, who impressed at the recent USL Showcase has been training with the team this week, as has former Charleston Battery midfielder Kevin Jackson, who was a member of Charleston’s 2003 USL-1 Championship winning side.
Real Salt Lake
The defending MLS champs enter this year’s tournament looking to repeat their success of 2009 when they won the Carolina Challenge Cup at the first time of asking. Head coach Jason Kreis led Salt Lake to its first postseason playoff appearance in 2008, and in 2009 he coached the team to its first MLS Cup championship. He is the youngest coach in MLS history to win the MLS Cup.
Real Salt Lake’s roster includes two players who have a chance to earn a spot on the US men’s national team roster for next summer’s FIFA World Cup. Midfielder Kyle Beckerman has made 10 appearances for the US and forward Robbie Findley started for the US in last week’s 2-1 loss versus the Netherlands.
Following Saturday’s Challenge Cup opener versus DC United, RSL take on the Battery at 5 PM on Wednesday and then close out the tournament with a 5 PM match on March 20 versus TFC.
United returns to the Carolina Challenge Cup for a fifth appearance. DC participated from 2004–06 and then again in 2009, but somewhat surprisingly has yet to lift the trophy.
The Battery’s rivalry with DC United extends back to 1999 when Charleston ousted United from that year’s US Open Cup in a third round meeting. More recently the two sides met in the final of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in 2008 with DC defeating the Charleston Battery by a score of two goals to one. United returned to the Open Cup final in 2009, but were edged by expansion MLS side Seattle Sounders.
D.C. United is the most successful professional soccer organization in the US. United is a four-time MLS Cup Champion (1996, 1997, 1999 and 2004) and winners of the 1996 and 2008 U.S. Open Cup, the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup, the 1998 Interamerican Cup and the 1997, 1999, 2006 and 2007 MLS Supporters Shield.
This is the fourth consecutive year that TFC will have visited Charleston for its preseason. After a third stellar season at the turnstiles that saw anther 15 consecutive sell-outs, Toronto F.C. just missed the MLS postseason, finishing in 5th position in the Eastern Standings, one point outside the playoffs.
Toronto signed its first designated player towards the end of the 2009 season, signing Canadian national team midfielder Julian DeGuzman to a three-year contract. DeGuzman has played 42 times for Canada and arrived in Toronto from Spanish La Liga side, Deportivo La Coruña.
Toronto have also made a coaching change during the offseason, bringing in 2007 MLS Coach of the Year Preki. Preki spent the last three seasons as the head coach with Chivas USA. His last visit to Blackbaud Stadium was on June 30, 2009 when the Battery knocked Chivas out of the US Open Cup.
Preki is the only player to be awarded the MLS MVP Award and the MLS Scoring Champion honor twice, winning both in 1997 and 2003. He still holds the record for all-time league leader in points scored (270 on 79 goals and 112 assists, plus an additional 25 points on 10 goals and 5 assists in the playoffs). Preki played his last competitive game at the age of 42.
Carolina Challenge Cup Tickets - Free Schedule Cup courtesy of Blue Water Benefits
Everyone in attendance on Saturday will receive a complimentary Charleston Battery schedule cup courtesy of Blue Water Benefits. Fans can enjoy $2 drafts until kick off in the Battery Beer Garden and children will have access to the Charleston County Parks Fun Zone.
Tickets for the 2010 Carolina Challenge Cup are on sale now with prices frozen at 2009 levels ($15 - $25, (843) 971-GOAL (4625) / www.Charlestonbattery.com). Charleston Battery Season Ticket holders receive complimentary tickets to all three Carolina Challenge Cup doubleheaders.
Carolina Challenge Cup and MLS success
There is a remarkable correlation between success in the Carolina Challenge Cup and success in Major League Soccer. Each year, excluding 2008, the winner of the Carolina Challenge Cup has gone on to win either that season’s MLS Supporters Shield (regular season championship) or MLS Cup.
Despite not creating an MLS champion in 2008, two of that year’s participants came very close to winning a major trophy as the Charleston Battery lost to DC United in the final of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and the New York Red Bulls lost to the Columbus Crew in the MLS Cup final.
Carolina Challenge Cup past winners
2004 - Columbus Crew (MLS)
2005 - San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
2006 - Houston Dynamo (MLS)
2007 - Houston Dynamo (MLS)
2008 - San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
2009 - Real Salt Lake (MLS)
Blackbaud and Charleston Battery Philanthropy Partnership
Halos is the first featured non-profit
As part of an ongoing philanthropy partnership, Blackbaud and the Charleston Battery professional soccer team are incorporating a different philanthropic theme to every home match. Blackbaud and the Charleston Battery share the corporate value of “service to others makes the world a better place” and will bring that to life at 13 home matches by featuring a nonprofit-of-the-match, raising awareness for a local nonprofit organization.
The first featured nonprofit-of-the-match this season is HALOS on March 13. The HALOS mission is to provide resources and special opportunities to abused and neglected children and their caregivers in the Lowcountry. At the soccer match, the organization will be highlighted at halftime and will be there to share its mission and raise awareness. HALOS staff and volunteers will be on hand to talk about how the local community can get involved.