Photo courtesy of Charlotte Independence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Southern Derby opened with the Charleston Battery as the victors as Romario Williams and Forrest Lasso tallied in the second half to lead the visiting side to a 2-0 win against the Charlotte Independence on Saturday at Transamerica Field. Williams, who led the Battery last season with 10 goals, opened his scoring account with a 70th-minute tally and seven minutes later it was Lasso off of a Justin Portillo free kick to play the role of spoiler during Charlotte’s season opener. Charleston improves to 2-0-0 (6 points) on the young season. Charlotte, which was without a couple players because of carryover suspensions from the end of the 2016 campaign, was unable to find the back of the net in its first game of 2017.
70’ – CHS – Romario Williams
77’ – CHS – Forrest Lasso (Justin Portillo)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Charleston was certainly outplayed possession-wise for much of the game. The Battery opened the second half with some sense of symmetry, and in the 70th minute they finally broke through. Williams received the ball with his back to the goal and a pair of Independence defenders on him. Nevertheless, Williams made an impressive turn with the ball and snuck his shot inside the left post for the 1-0 advantage. Then, for the second time in two games, Forrest Lasso scored off of a Justin Portillo assist. Portillo’s free kick was delivered to the middle of the box and Lasso showcased his strong set-piece abilities with a vicious header into the back of the net for the two-goal cushion in the 77th minute.
2. Charlotte was behind the 8-ball to open Saturday’s game with 2016 USL MVP finalist Enzo Martinez and Jun Marques Davidson serving one-game suspensions that carried over from last season. Head Coach Mike Jeffries needed his roster to step up. One of the early figures was Charlotte veteran Jorge Herrera, which probably comes as no surprise. Coming off a season in which his playing time was on occasion limited, Herrera had some aggressive sequences right out of the gate. He created one of the best opportunities in the 18th minute when he cut to his right foot and attempted to sneak the ball inside the left post, only to see Atlanta United FC loanee and Charleston goalkeeper Alex Tambakis turn it away and concede a corner.
3. Charlotte on occasion – particularly from Alex Martinez – elected to take some longer-distance attempts as the game wore on. The Independence got away from the possession game that generated some nice spells in the opening half. Without that fluidity, the second half was far more back-and-forth between the two sides. The Independence managed to sustain such play with defensive clearances as the Battery tried to attack with some improved midfield buildup. Ultimately, neither side could find the score sheet.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Forrest Lasso, Charleston Battery – Lasso delivered a beautiful header goal that pretty much iced the game to lead a much-improved Charleston side in the second half.
Charlotte Independence at Orlando City B – April 8, 7:30 p.m. ET, Orlando City Stadium
Charleston Battery vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – April 8, 7 p.m. ET, MUSC Health Stadium