The Charleston Battery announced Monday the initial slate of roster moves heading into the 2023 season, featuring 10 key players returning from the 2022 squad. The returnees range from veterans to second-year players eager to seize upon the momentum of the rookie campaigns.
Returning players include defenders AJ Paterson, Leland Archer and Benji Ettienne; midfielders Andrew Booth (above right), Robbie Crawford, Fidel Barajas, Avionne Flanagan and Joe Schmidt; forwards Augustine Williams and Aidan Apodaca. The squad will serve as a foundation to build upon as the Battery progress toward the opening match of the season.
“We are thrilled to have these 10 young men return to the Battery for the 2023 season,” said Coach Ben Pirmann. “We have a great mixture of experienced veterans and young players ready to break out. One thing all 10 have in common is they’re ready and willing to serve this club and community, and play with energy and selflessness.
“The USL Championship season is grueling and will undoubtedly have highs and lows. In order to achieve greatness on and off the field, we must have players that are willing to suffer together and persevere through the tough moments, and this group reflects those qualities.”
The backline partnership of AJ Paterson and Leland Archer continues for a fifth consecutive season, with Grenada international Benji Ettienne entering his second club season alongside his compatriot Paterson. Archer comes into the 2023 season as the longest-tenured player on the Battery with 100 matches played across all competitions since 2018.
In the midfield, Robbie Crawford enters his third season with the club and Andrew Booth will look to build upon his exciting first year in Charleston. Fidel Barajas and Joe Schmidt will both aim to seize the momentum of their productive rookie campaigns. Avionne Flanagan’s versatility along the left flank sees him transition to the midfield.
Returning to Charleston are their top-two goalscorers from 2022 in forwards Augustine Williams and Aidan Apodaca. Williams bagged 16 goals in what was a banner year for the Sierra Leone international that was capped off with All-League honors. Apodaca, six goals, made the most regular season appearances (33) and was tied for the most chances created (32) for the Battery last year.
“Even though I’ve only been on the job a short amount of time, I am really enjoying the opportunity to get to know all these guys,” said Coach Pirmann. “AJ is a great leader who is willing to do it all for this club and our community, as he has for multiple years. Leland is a tough competitor with loads of experience for the Battery, I’m excited to see him have a breakout season as a top center-back in this league.
“Augustine will be targeted by our opponents after a great individual 2022 season, but he’ll be ready for the competition and eager to drive this team forward up top. Andrew has proven to be a consistent playmaking midfielder at the Championship level and I believe that his game is about to take off.”
Along with the players who are returning, the club can confirm the status of the following players who have entered free agency: Joe Kuzminsky, Patrick Hogan, Matt Sheldon, DZ Harmon, Caden Theobald, Joel Bunting, Alexander Dexter, Burke Fahling; contract options declined: Brett St. Martin, Dominic Oduro, Romario Piggott, Geobel Perez Jr., Preston Kilwien, Mauro Cichero, Enock Kwakwa, Daniel Kuzemka and Nicque Daley. The Battery thanks the players who are moving on for their contributions to the club and wishes them well in the next chapters of their careers.
The Battery will continue to assess and evaluate players to finalize the 2023 roster and updates will be provided in due time.
Coach Pirmann is looking forward to working with the returnees, as that group will lay the foundation for the rest of the roster.
“These 10 returning players will serve as the core for the 2023 season, we need to build off of these young men to make our squad one of the toughest in the league,” said Coach Pirmann. “We are excited to coach hungry individuals that want to serve each other and fight together, and these returning players truly emulate that.”
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