CHARLESTON, S.C. – The field for the 2018 Carolina Challenge Cup was announced on Thursday morning, with the USL’s Charleston Battery set to welcome Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United FC, Columbus Crew SC and Minnesota United FC to MUSC Health Stadium next February for the 14th edition of the traditional preseason tournament.
“We’re really excited about this year’s Challenge Cup,” said Battery Chairman Eric Bowman. “We’ve put together a great tournament that will feature some of the best teams and players in Major League Soccer. We’re looking forward to providing another unforgettable experience for soccer fans here in Charleston.”
The Battery first hosted the Carolina Challenge Cup in 2004, becoming one of the first lower-division American soccer clubs to host multiple MLS teams for preseason. The tournament has offered soccer fans in South Carolina the opportunity to see international superstars play in Charleston for more than a decade.
The 2018 Challenge Cup will feature two of Major League Soccer’s newest franchises and one of its oldest. The Battery will welcome back Atlanta United FC and reigning CCC champions, Columbus Crew SC, for the second consecutive year, while Minnesota United FC will make its first trip to Charleston.
Among those set to feature in the tournament are the dynamic Atlanta duo of Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez, who have set MLS alight in leading the 2017 expansion side to a playoff berth in its first season. A Venezuelan international, Martinez is one of the league’s leading scorers this season with 18 goals this season, while Paraguay international Almiron has recorded 13 assists and nine goals in the 2017 regular season.
Also set to feature in the tournament is former two-time USL Most Valuable Player Kevin Molino, who has become one of the top playmakers in Major League Soccer over the past two seasons. The Trinidad & Tobago international has recorded seven goals and nine assists for Minnesota in its inaugural season, and has recorded 18 goals and 18 assists over his past two seasons.
Columbus Crew SC also boasts a strong squad, with the club announcing this week it had re-signed Argentinian Designated Player Federico Higuain. Crew SC also boasts the likes of Justin Meram and Ola Kamara, both of whom have played a key role in the club earning a place in the 2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
The four participating teams will play in a round robin style tournament with doubleheaders on February 17, 21, and 24. A tentative schedule for the tournament can be found below.
2018 Carolina Challenge Cup
Saturday, February 17th
Atlanta United FC vs. Columbus Crew SC, 5 p.m. ET
Charleston Battery vs. Minnesota United FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, February 21st
Charleston Battery vs. Columbus Crew SC, 5 p.m. ET
Atlanta United FC vs. Minnesota United FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, February 24th
Columbus Crew SC vs. Minnesota United FC, 5 p.m. ET
Charleston Battery vs. Atlanta United FC, 7:30 p.m. ET