Battery drop home opener to Charlotte, 3-0
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Battery fell in their sold out home opener, 0-3, to Charlotte Independence. Nearly 2,000 fans were back in the stands at Patriots Point as the club opened up the stadium to 50% capacity. The Independence scored early and often for the first victory in their history visiting Charleston. Marcelo Palomino did the initial damage in the 12th minute, and he was followed up by an Irvin Parra brace (18th and 49th minute). Charleston had chances throughout the match, but Charlotte keeper Brandon Miller was there to make the necessary stops and keep the Battery at bay for the full 90 minutes.
The Battery started off aggressive, nearly opening the match up with a Stavros Zarokostas goal, but his 3rd-minute shot rattled off the post and went out. The Black and Yellow then got behind early, giving up two goals in the first 20 minutes of play. The first came in the 12th minute after a Battery foul at the top of the box gave Charlotte a well-placed free kick. Charlotte’s Jake Areman took the kick which deflected off the right post directly in front of Palomino, who sent the ball past Battery keeper Joe Kuzminsky with a header off the rebound. The second came in the 18th minute, when Thomas de Villardi sent a cross into the box just over Battery defender AJ Paterson to Irvin Parra. Parra placed a header right out of Kuzminsky’s reach and into the net. The goal was Parra’s first with the Independence.
The Battery showed some fight, starting in the 31st minute, when Zeiko Lewis worked his way into the 18-yard box for a shot that was blocked. Again, in the 40th minute, Zarokostas willed his way into dangerous territory, but was unable to convert for a goal. The Battery were able to make their way into the final third, retaining possession for the majority of the first half, but unable to come away with anything on the board.
Charlotte picked up where they left off to open the second half, converting on a penalty to give them a three-nil lead. Midfielder Brunallergene Etou drew the foul in the penalty area in the 48th minute and Irvin Parra converted from the spot a minute later for his second goal of the evening. The third score all but put the match away for the Independence. Charleston showed some bite again in the 63rd minute when Geobel Perez sent a bending shot right after coming into the game off the bench, but his attempt was saved by Miller.
A pair of Battery players made their debuts for the Black and Yellow. Erik McCue and DZ Harmon both saw the pitch for the first time when substituting in during the 69th minute. Harmon had an instant impact tallying a shot on target and showing flashes of skill during the final push as the clock wore on. McCue had a pair of clearances and possessions gained during his debut off the bench.
It was the first time Charleston has lost at home to the Independence. Currently sitting sixth in the Atlantic Division, the Battery will look to secure points with two consecutive matches at home over the next two weeks.
”Definitely not the way we want to start, very disappointing. I think we can definitely do better as a team,” said Battery forward Stavros Zarokostas. “Not the way we want to start, but the atmosphere was amazing. We were very thankful for the fans for coming out. For me it was a dream come true playing in front of a crowd like this, and we definitely want to have a better product [on the field] next time.”
Looking at the early deficit, Battery Head Coach Michael Anhaeuser noted, “We had so much energy and everything else and that it kind of just deflated us so now you’re trying an uphill battle. I think that really kind of just hit us at the beginning.”
”It’s very disappointing for us, you know, to have this result happen with such a great crowd and everything, but we’re gonna be okay,” he continued. “Our guys will regroup and we’ve got to get back together and just get organized and play the way we do. We saw it in New York last week; we were successful against them.”
Assessing the opponent’s performance, Coach added, “I gotta give Charlotte credit, they came out, they were organized and they got pressure on us, which they didn’t do in their first game.”The Battery will look to shake off the loss with a weeklong break before hosting New York Red Bulls II on Sunday, May 23rd. Limited tickets for the Sunday afternoon match are still available at tickets.charlestonbattery.com.