Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence got a late goal by Mutaya Mwape as they earned a 1-1 draw with the Charleston Battery at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Saturday night. Charlotte threatened in the sixth minute as a good overlap by Kay Voser allowed a cross that found Eamon Zayed, whose header forced a tipped save by Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky. The Battery’s first good chance arrived 12 minutes later as a near-post cross by Jarad van Schaik found Gordon Wild, but his shot went just wide of the left upright, but in the 25th minute the visitors took the lead as Ataulla Guerra slipped in Kotaro Higashi for a low finish. Charleston tried to doubled its lead 10 minutes into the second half as a flicked header by Ataulla Guerra released Wild into the left channel, and the forward’s finish went just wide of the left post from 20 yards, and Wild went close again on a breakaway that he shot high as Dykstra came off his line to the top of the penalty area to try and close down the angle. Those missed opportunities came back to hurt the Battery as the Independence leveled with 11 minutes to go as Mwape chipped a finish from the right side of the penalty area that landed softly in the left corner of the net. Charlotte pushed to try and find a late winner, but honors ended even between the regional rivals as they took a point apiece.
25’ – CHS – Kotaro Higashi (Ataulla Guerra)
79’ – CLT – Mutaya Mwape
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Battery looked to have things under control as the game entered its final 15 minutes as Kotaro Higashi’s goal had the visitors once again on their way to victory against their regional rivals, but the chances that Charleston had to secure the game will be ones the side will look back on and shake their heads over as the emerged with only a point. Gordon Wild’s 67th-minute chance, which he sent high with only Charlotte goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra to beat, stood out as a moment the Battery would like to have back.
2. The Independence on the other hand, hadn’t created very much at all before Mutaya Mwape found the back of the net on just Charlotte’s fourth shot of the game. There might be questions for Mwape as to what his intention was with a chipped ball from the right side of the penalty area that ended up arcing perfectly to land softly in the left side of the net, but after the misfortune the side suffered on Wednesday night in conceding a late equalizer, this might have been the break that evened that out and allowed the crowd that set a new attendance record for the club to go home relatively happy.
3. The Battery are now winless in their last five games, and while they’ve drawn four of those contests the side has slid down the Eastern Conference as a result. After a night when the visitors will think they should probably have taken all three points, getting back in the win column next Saturday night when the club returns to MUSC Health Stadium is going to be imperative to solidify the club’s place in the Eastern Conference, but with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC coming to town it won’t be an easy task.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Ataulla Guerra, Charleston Battery – Guerra didn’t find the net, but put in another fine display as he set up Kotaro Higashi’s goal and recorded three key passes for the visitors.
Charlotte Independence at Richmond Kickers – June 23, 7 p.m. ET, City Stadium
Charleston Battery vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – June 23, 7 p.m. ET, MUSC Health Stadium