Charleston Battery and Louisville City FC drew, 1-1, Saturday night at MUSC Health Stadium, preserving Charleston’s six point lead at the top of the USL Eastern Conference standings.
Despite a shaky start in the opening ten minutes, the Battery struck first on another sweltering night in the Lowcountry. Outside midfielder Maikel Chang collected the ball on the right flank and looped a cross into the penalty area. Chang’s cross was about to fall to Dante Marini who made a darting run into the box, but just as Marini went to collect the pass, he was run over by Kyle Smith drawing a penalty.
Justin Portillo stepped up to the penalty and sent Greg Ranjitsingh the wrong way, driving the spot kick in at the goalkeeper’s right post. Portillo now has five goals and five assists on the year, which has him behind just Romario Williams, who missed Saturday’s match due to international duty, for the second-highest point total on the team.
Louisville struck back with a set piece goal of their own just minutes after Portillo’s goal. Oscar Jimenez swung in a corner from the right side and Sean Totsch rose up and flicked it on frame. Totsch’s flick rung off Odisnel Cooper’s near post and fell to Ilija Ilic who knocked it in for his first goal of the year.
The Eastern Conference heavyweights traded chances in the second half as both teams tired, but neither could find the back of the net. The draw extends Charleston’s unbeaten streak at MUSC Health Stadium to nine matches and keeps the gap between themselves and Louisville at six points.
“We picked up seven points from these three home games, which is very good when you consider that we played the number two and number three teams in our conference,” said Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser. “Now we have to go get results on the road. If we can pick up six or seven points from these next three games, that’ll be huge. We know we’re going to some tough places, but we’ve done well on the road so far this season and we’re looking forward to the next game.”
Following their three game homestand, the Battery will head out on the road for three consecutive matches. Charleston will play at Saint Louis FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and Pittsburgh Riverhounds before returning home to face Orlando City B for the first time this season on July 29th.
-per Charleston Battery