Ian Svantesson’s second goal in as many games wasn’t enough Wednesday night as the Charleston Battery lost, 2-1, to Columbus Crew on match day two of Carolina Challenge Cup at MUSC Health Stadium.
Both teams started bright in the first half, with each creating a quality scoring chance inside of the first 15 minutes. Quinton Griffith and Ataulla Guerra created several opportunities for the Battery, while Cristian Martinez and Pedro Santos both threatened in Columbus’ attacking third.
The Battery broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when Tah Brian Anunga nicked the ball from a Columbus midfielder high up the field and slotted Svantesson through. The 6-6 center forward collected Anunga’s pass and calmly tucked the ball past Zack Steffen to put the home side in front.
“It feels like we’re clicking more and more each game,” said Svantesson. “We’re getting more familiar with each other as we work our way through preseason. Tah and I made eye contact and he played a perfect ball through to me and I was able to slot it past the goalkeeper.”
As is normal during Challenge Cup, both coaches made several changes at halftime, with Columbus Head Coach Gregg Berhalter going with completely knew eleven. Columbus' second half team included Gyasi Zardes who would find the back of the net twice in the final 35 minutes to help his side to the win.
Zardes’ first came in the 56th minute when Edward Opoku swung in a cross towards the near post. Zardes beat his marker to the ball and nodded it past Odisnel Cooper to equalize.
Columbus’ second goal came in almost identical fashion to their first, but this time Harrison Afful was the provider. Afful floated a cross in towards the six yard box to Zardes who was making a slashing run. Zardes flicked a header to the back post, beating Cooper and putting his side in front.
With the win, Columbus now sits firmly in first place in the Carolina Challenge Cup standings with six points. Columbus will look to repeat as tournament champions when they take on Minnesota United Saturday night at 5:00 PM. Following that match, the Battery will take on Atlanta United in Challenge Cup finale.
-per Charleston Battery