DANIEL ISLAND, SC - Charleston's one-two scoring punch of forwards Heviel Cordoves and Dane Kelly overpowered Harrisburg City Islanders Saturday night at Blackbaud Stadium, propelling the Battery to their best start in 12 years.
Cordoves, who scored twice in relief of the injured Kelly last week at Charlotte, broke the scoreless draw in the 62nd minute, running down a ball that took him to the left side of the penalty area. The tall Cuban got of his fifth shot of the night, and this one avoided both the Harrisburg defense and goalkeeper Nick Noble to find the net near the far post.
Kelly replaced him just moments after his goal celebration, and needed just nine minutes to double the score. The speedy Jamaican forward converted a pass from Cuban midfielder Maikel Chang.
It was a case of role reversal for the two forwards. Typically Kelly is the starter, with Cordoves subbing on in the second half. But Coach Mike Anhaeuser said the roles were unimportant.
"One can start, one can come off the bench, Ricky (Garbanzo) does his job," Anhaeuser said. "We have a lot of depth, we have a bunch of guys hitting the back of the net right now, and that's all that matters. It's not about who starts and who doesn't start."
The win lifted the Battery to 3-0-0, making the team the first to three victories in USL this season. It was the first three-win start to a season since the 2003 squad, which went 4-0-0 and didn't lose until the sixth match of the year. Charleston is on a bye next weekend.
Jarad van Schaik, the Battery captain, said the team emphasized getting off to a strong start in the first 15 minutes all week. Charleston gave up two goals in each of its two previous wins, and both the players and the coaching staff have seemed annoyed by the defensive lapses.
"That was a big, big focus for us," van Schaik said. "I think we put in a much more professional performance out there. Not very many mistakes, no big ones, a lot cleaner. I thought it was a really big improvement over our first two games."
It was good news for goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, who led the league in saves coming into Saturday's match. Against Harrisburg (0-2-0), he faced only one shot on goal for a single save.
The night was another step forward in the evolution of midfielder Chang. An injured afterthought in his first season, a spot player in his second, Chang is one of seven Battery players who made their third consecutive starts Saturday.
"He's got the ability to play balls in with either foot and he makes those forwards score," Anhaeuser said. "If we can get it from the wing with him, Navion (Boyd), Zach (Prince)… all the guys who've been playing out wide have been doing a great job of getting it in to the forwards."
Harrisburg began the night in a defensive crouch, routinely keeping at least nine men behind the ball and only occasionally threatening the Battery with counterattacks. The Battery out-shot the Islanders 13-6 on the night. Once the deadlock was broken, the hosts were able to close out their first clean sheet of 2015 with relative ease.