The Charleston Battery fell 1-0 to Inter Miami CF on day two of the Breeze Airways™ Carolina Challenge Cup on Tuesday, February 15. It was a scoreless contest for much of the evening until a goal from Ariel Lassiter in the 77th broke the deadlock and proved to be the difference-maker. The Battery showed ample fight but were unable to find an equalizer. Charleston will look to bounce back in their final Cup match against the Columbus Crew on Friday, February 18th.
The Black and Yellow picked up where they left off Saturday in applying early pressure to their opponents. Matteo Ritaccio sought to find Augustine Williams in a dangerous spot in the box in the first minute with a throughball, however Miami were able to disrupt the threat in time. Miami made an advance of their own in the 10th minute to test goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky with a shot, who ultimately made an easy save. Leland Archer made a strong impression on the Miami offense when he stopped Ariel Lassiter in his tracks after a dangerous run at the 20-minute mark.
The best look of the first half for the Battery came 30 minutes in when Ritaccio delivered a well-placed ball over the top to Romario Piggott. The Panamanian went for goal on a volley but his attempt went just north of the crossbar. Battery Head Coach Conor Casey made a squad swap minutes later for a side composed entirely of trialists. A duo of trialists nearly found the goal towards the end of the half with a cross into the box, however the header attempt was also too tall for the net. The sides would head into the break scoreless.
Play resumed in the second half with Andrew Booth’s introduction to the match being the major change following the intermission. The Battery continued to press against Miami and were rewarded with opportunities. A Trialist nearly found the back of the net with a strong shot that went just narrowly wide right of the post. The Battery tactician once again called to his bench around the hour mark for a swap that brought Pat Hogan, Benji Ettienne, Geobel Perez and EJ Johnson into the action.
Johnson almost converted on an acrobatic attempt on goal following a solid cross from a trialist, as the Battery continued to press into the Miami box. Pat Hogan nearly scored in the 73rd minute off a corner kick, but his attempt rattled off the right post and out.Miami would break ahead in the 77th minute with a goal from Lassiter, assisted by Harvey Neville, in the middle of the box with a curler that beat the trialist goalkeeper, who had just moments earlier made a strong save. EJ continued to provide options for the Battery through the right side, however Miami saw out the match to secure the victory.
Despite the result, Coach Casey commended his squad for their efforts throughout the evening.
“It was super positive, the energy was great, I asked them to be relentless in their pressure and they did that all night long,” said Coach Casey. “We’re still learning from each other and a different way of doing things. All in all, we had a lot of great chances, but we were unable at the moment to put them away. Sometimes that comes back to bite you a little, but I’m very happy overall.”
Casey additionally thought the team made a step in the right direction in forming their identity in just their second match of the preseason.
“It’s a learning process, it’s our second game and we haven’t had a lot of training sessions,” said Coach Casey. “So, I think the players are taking on the information well and they’re applying it, so I think it’s good progress.”
Midfielder Andrew Booth believes the squad made strides during the match, as evidenced by the number of chances the Battery produced.
“We spoke [as a team] briefly after, we’re just trying to work on how we’re going to play during the season,” said Booth. “Being aggressive and pressing, I think as you watch the game, you see we’re making teams uncomfortable and we’re competing.
“We had a few chances there and Miami had the one chance when they scored and that was the difference tonight. Overall, I think we’re showing that we can compete and we’re playing at a good level.”
Columbus, Charlotte share points in 0-0 draw
The second day of the Breeze Airways™ Carolina Challenge Cup opened up with a contentious match between the Columbus Crew and Charlotte FC that ended in a 0-0 draw. Charlotte nearly took the lead in the dying minutes of the match, however the Columbus defense was able to dig the ball off the line and prevent it from crossing over completely for a goal.
Miami now sit top the tournament table after their win with four points. They are followed by Charleston with three points, Columbus with two points and Charlotte with one point.
The Battery are back Friday, February 18, in their final Cup match as they take on the Columbus Crew at 8 p.m. Tickets are still available for the Charleston’s CCC22 finale via SeatGeek, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing partner.