Photo courtesy Zach Bland / Charleston Battery
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery and Louisville City FC played to a 1-1 draw at MUSC Health Stadium on Saturday night, keeping the Battery’s lead at six points at the top of the USL Eastern Conference standings over their visitors. Louisville (8-2-5, 29pts) almost took the lead in the second minute as a clever lifted pass by George Davis IV into the penalty area found Brian Ownby, and deflected to Kyle Smith, whose shot hit both posts before rebounding to safety. The Battery (10-2-5, 35pts) took the lead in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot, however, as a foul on Dante Marini gave Justin Portillo the chance to convert, and the midfielder shot low into the left corner of the net. Louisville responded quickly, as four minutes later a corner was headed off the crossbar by Sean Totsch, but Ilija Ilic fired home the rebound. The visitors went close again three minutes later as Smith fired low to the right corner, only for Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper to just turn it around the post. Neither side was able to create many clear chances to start the second half, but the Battery almost grabbed the lead with 15 minutes to go as a long throw-in by O’Brian Woodbine wasn’t cleared, and Maikel Chang had his shot cleared off the line by Sean Reynolds with City goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh stranded. Louisville substitute Richard Ballard forced a save by Cooper a few minutes later with a low shot, while Davis flashed a shot over the crossbar as the visitors threatened again, but honors ended even for the second time this season between the championship contenders.
23’ – CHS – Justin Portillo (penalty)
27’ – LOU – Ilija Ilic
Three Things That Matter:
1. The second meeting of the season between the Charleston Battery and Louisville City FC ended all square, as did the first, but it wasn’t without chances for both in a compelling contest at MUSC Health Stadium. As it stood, the result will likely be looked as a more positive one for the Battery, who managed to maintain their six-point lead in the Eastern Conference despite having played two games more than Louisville. In humid conditions, both teams pushed hard in an entertaining contest, and one that sets up the final meeting of the season at Slugger Field later this season very nicely.
2. The Battery had to withstand pressure early as Louisville’s attacking three caused them problems, but the hosts as always looked dangerous on the counterattack, and it ended up creating the opening goal of the game. Fullback Quinton Griffith found space on the overlap down the right, and put in a good back-post cross for Dante Marini, who gained position on Kyle Smith resulting in his being pushed down from behind as he went to finish. Justin Portillo was calm from the penalty spot, converting to the left corner.
3. Louisville’s danger in attack could have seen the side both either the scoring, or find a winner late in the second half as George Davis IV’s shot over the crossbar from 14 yards gave the visitors a golden opportunity with nine minutes to go. After a back-and-forth contest, though, City will likely also be happy with a point on the road, particularly after the Battery had the best chance of the second half that saw Maikel Chang’s shot cleared off the line with goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh stranded after he failed to claim a long throw-in by O’Brian Woodbine. While it wasn’t their 4-4 thriller in the first meeting of the season, the matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference certainly lived up to expectations.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Sean Reynolds, Louisville City FC – Reynolds was strong throughout in defense, and made a crucial goal line clearance to keep the game level in the second half as City earned a point.
Charleston Battery at Saint Louis FC – July 15, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis
Louisville City FC vs. FC Cincinnati – July 15, 7:30 p.m. ET, Slugger Field