Photo courtesy Zach Bland / Charleston Battery
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery announced on Monday they would return at least nine players from its 2017 squad after the club exercised contract options on Taylor Mueller, Kotaro Higashi, Quinton Griffith, and Skylar Thomas and re-signed Tah Brian Anunga and Joe Kuzminsky, pending league and federation approval
The trio of Jarad van Schaik, Neveal Hackshaw, and Ataulla Guerra – who notched six goals and two assists in the 2017 regular season – were previously under contract for the 2018 season.
A 2017 USL All-League Second Team selection, Mueller played every minute of the regular season and playoffs for the Battery in, captaining the team to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference, its highest finish in the USL’s modern era. The 2018 season will be Mueller’s seventh with the Battery. The center back is currently fourth all-time in appearances for the Battery, trailing only Dusty Hudock, John Wilson, and Paul Conway.
Mueller will be joined on the back line by fellow Battery veteran Griffith, who is set for sixth season for the club after logging more than 2,000 minutes of action in the 2017 season. Thomas also had a solid first year for the Battery after his arrival from Toronto FC II, making 21 appearances and playing a role in eight of the team’s 13 shutouts in the regular season.
Higashi and Anunga both return to the Battery after successful first seasons with the club. Higashi made 23 starts for Charleston in 2017 and recorded assists, the second-highest total on the team. The 21-year-old Anunga, meanwhile, made 20 starts in 2017 and recorded 29 interceptions and won 106 of 188 duels in midfield. His lone goal of the season proved the game-winner in Charleston’s 3-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on April 22.