Photo courtesy Charleston Battery
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery had left it late to claim victory in each of their past two outings, with Justin Portillo’s penalty kick against Harrisburg and Romario Williams’ rebound finish against Toronto coming too close to the death for Coach Mike Anhaeuser’s liking.
As a result, the fast start that materialized on Saturday night in Charleston’s 2-0 victory against longtime rival the Richmond Kickers was almost as pleasing as the important three points the side secured at MUSC Health Stadium.
“I’ve been pushing the guys to get back to getting off to a quick start and finding their rhythm early,” Anhaeuser said following the victory. “They’ve done that over the past couple of weeks and it’s been great. They’re finding that balance between defending and attacking. We were dangerous going forward but we also defended very well against a team that always creates chances.”
The Battery could have taken the lead prior to Taylor Mueller’s opening goal in the 29th minute, another textbook near-post corner kick by Portillo from the right side the center back flicked home to the far post. Seven minutes later, another excellent cross by O’Brian Woodbine found the head of Heviel Cordoves – brought on as an early substitute after Williams picked up a knock – and the Cuban flicked home the second of the night.
“[Cordoves] came through and scored a great goal tonight,” Anhaeuser said. “He’s just coming off of a long break with the injury, so we’re still going to be a bit cautious with him. It’s great to have him back to close to 100 percent. We’re going to need him if Romario is out for more than a few days.”
The Battery’s three-game winning streak has allowed the side to keep pace with the other front-runners in the Eastern Conference, with the top four of Louisville, New York, Cincinnati and Charleston having opened a five-point gap to the rest of the playoff contenders.
Next up for Charleston is a trip to Louisville, where the Battery will need to at least match the intensity the hosts typically bring at Slugger Field. Returning to the scene of their elimination in the USL Playoffs a season ago after City ended Charleston’s home undefeated streak last month with a 2-0 win at MUSC Health Stadium, the Battery are feeling good as to where they currently stand.
“We scored some great goals,” Anhaeuser said. “Woodbine’s cross to Cordoves was fantastic, it’s always good to get our outside backs involved in the attacking third. It’s always nice to get a shutout and it’s great to see us attacking as a unit again at home.”