Late magic in Magic City from Williams, Trager, Dodson lifts Battery past Birmingham

The Charleston Battery defeated Birmingham Legion FC, 1-2, in thrilling fashion at Protective...
The Charleston Battery defeated Birmingham Legion FC, 1-2, in thrilling fashion at Protective Stadium on Saturday.(Charleston Battery)
Published: Jul. 30, 2023 at 12:13 AM EDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 29, 2023) – The Charleston Battery defeated Birmingham Legion FC, 1-2, in thrilling fashion at Protective Stadium on Saturday. Charleston came back from a 1-0 deficit and scored two late goals, by Tristan Trager (82′) and Derek Dodson (90′+1), to secure their first victory over Legion FC since 2019. Augi Williams provided assists for both goals. The Battery’s undefeated run extends to five matches.

The Charleston and Birmingham defenses dominated the early stages of the first half, only one shot was had in the opening 20 minutes. Derek Dodson and Juan Sebastian Palma provided much of the defensive muscle to keep Birmingham at bay. Nick Markanich and Emilio Ycaza registered strong shots in the 24th minute but they were blocked and saved, respectively.

Goalkeeper Trey Muse made the save of the night to that point with a diving stop in the 32nd minute to deny Neco Brett. Muse put his body on the line and was shaken up after the play, but soldiered on after a couple of minutes to gather himself. The save was the 300th of Muse’s career in the USL Championship regular season.

Birmingham managed to take the lead in the 43rd minute via Prosper Kasim. The 1-0 scoreline held into halftime.

The defensive nature of the first half continued into the second half. Charleston applied heavy pressure and Beto Avila nearly capitalized on goalkeeper Matt van Oekel’s apparent lack of urgency to clear the ball out of his box, lunging and blocking the goalkeeper’s pass from close range that sent the ball just wide of goal.

Charleston continued to press Legion FC while also firming up defensively. Birmingham were held without a shot on target the whole second half.

With less than 10 minutes of normal time remaining, newly-substituted Tristan Trager scored the equalizing goal in the 82nd minute. Augi Williams picked out Trager with a perfect pass and Trager hit a sublime first-time strike that banged off the far post and into the net. The goal was Trager’s third across all competitions this year.

The Battery increasingly took the game to Legion FC as the match entered the waning minutes of the night, showing they had no desire to leave Birmingham with anything less than three points.

Dodson was the man of the moment and scored the match-winner in the 91st minute with a header inside the box. Williams again provided the service with an inviting cross from the left side that Dodson redirected to the far post and past van Oekel’s reach. The goal was Dodson’s second goal of the season and the assists were Williams’ first two of the year.

Charleston held on to steal three points in the Magic City with more later-game magic of their own, 1-2 over Birmingham. Saturday’s win extends the Battery’s undefeated run to five matches and puts their record at 11W-5L-6D (39 pts), second place in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Battery have now won 14 points from losing positions this year, more than any other club in the USL Championship.

In addition to the match-winning goal, Dodson registered four clearances, four duels won, two blocks and five recoveries on defense. Palma tallied seven duels won, four clearances and two tackles won.

With tonight’s tally, Trager’s two league goals this season have both been equalizers in the second half after coming off the bench on the road.

Head Coach Ben Pirmann and forward Augi Williams discussed the victory after the final whistle, with key quotes to follow.

Coach Pirmann on the latest display of the team’s resiliency…

“That showed a lot of very good personality from our young men, the staff, the coaches and the players. It wasn’t our night with our ball speed and our execution, I thought we were a little bit sloppy and didn’t value the ball well enough. Birmingham are as good as there is defensively and in order for us to break them down, we had to use some energy. Our substitutes were tremendous. Robbie [Crawford], Tristan [Trager] and Pierre [Reedy] changed the game with their energy and we were able to play a little bit higher and force [Birmingham] to face their own goal. Those two moments were big for us.”

“It was great to get three points; it showed courage, it showed resilience, because it was tough. We were looking down the barrel, zero points, then to get back and tie it and to go all the way and get all three points, it was tremendous. It’s a huge moment for these players. It’s a huge moment for this club. But, it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t continue to build off that and get better.”

Coach Pirmann on the intensity seen on the pitch throughout the night…

“It was definitely hot. The field was fast, because it’s a nice turf field and it was wet, so it was a good football match. [Birmingham] were more press-resistant than I anticipated, I give them credit, which sucked a little bit of our energy out, which I think, in turn, made us more careless in possession. We have to make sure we find a good balance there.”

“Then the second piece is that [Birmingham] were physical, but they don’t foul. They’re very smart, they’re strong, they’re good players, they’re good athletes. They’re a very good team. So, it goes down to the little individual plays and little moments. We had to change some things up to be more aggressive, more assertive with some energy and athleticism.”

Coach Pirmann on the lessons learned from tonight’s match to build on…

“We said two and a half weeks ago after we tied Indy Eleven 1-1 on the road, ‘every game is a playoff game, everybody’s scouting us, everybody knows our patterns, everybody knows who’s good. So, in order to win games, you either have to be special or you have to be really attentive to detail.’ For us, a big learning lesson is to value the ball more individually. Our patterns were good, our sequences were good, our spacing was good, but good teams are going to stop that. Individually, we have to either make a big play or we have to put our teammates in positions to make a simple play.”

“We’ve got Oakland Roots SC coming in, who are tremendous, so it’s going to be tough every single game. We’ve got 12 more. They’re going to be 12 more playoff games. It’s going to be five or six little moments and hopefully we can tilt it into our favor in those spots.”

Williams on the team securing another late comeback win…

“We kept going. We had the mindset of never giving up. You can see the spirit that we had as a team and that had a huge impact on the win tonight. We were sticking to the plan and making sure that we could push them to the last whistle.”

“Tristan has a very attacking mindset and he wants to be in the box, just like I do. So, I didn’t really look where he would be, it was just one of those moments where I said ‘I’ll put it in a box,’ and it will get to him. Thankfully, he was there to execute that.”

Williams on overcoming the tough opposition and summer heat…

“They’re a really tough opponent. When we first started, the plans that we had didn’t go the way we wanted. We found ourselves chasing the game. I think that break [at halftime] that we had in the locker room helped us a lot when going out and fixing the things that we were not able to manage during the game. Once we were able to do that, the game started to be more in our possession and I think that helped us a lot. "

Williams on the message from Coach in the locker room that helped Charleston take control of the match…

“[Coach Pirmann] was like ‘be more aggressive’ as a collective group. That’s what we struggled with at the time. We were pressing individually. Once we started pressing collectively and then making sure that the things [Birmingham] were having success with, we were limiting that, everything starting to be more in our favor. That helped us a lot to take control of the game and put it in our favor.”

“It gave us the momentum to keep pushing and fighting and to make sure that we go back home and we’re executing in front of our fans. We’re looking forward to that.”

The Battery return to Patriots Point on Fri., Aug 4, to take on Oakland Roots SC. This home game will be the last match to feature the $3 beer promotion. Tickets are available now via, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.