What is there to know about the 2019 Charleston Battery? We go to the source. Drew Bartow writes about the team on Soccer n Sweet Tea, and he took the time to answer some questions in advance of tomorrow’s match.
For Club and Country: It would be unfair to say the season has gone poorly so far, but it might not be up to the Battery’s (admittedly high) standards. What hasn’t worked out so far, and is there confidence that the team can snap out of it and have the type of season expected of them?
Drew Bartow: Two wins, two draws and a loss is not a bad start. Coach Mike Anhaeuser produces a team that makes the playoffs consistently. Sometimes we have limped or like in 2017 finished 2nd. Last year we finished 4th. Several new additions are coming along (Romario Piggott is a rookie out of Coastal Carolina University and has been outstanding up front with his ball control and Zeiko Lewis who is a definite playmaker). Ian Svantesson has scored three goals in four matches and the combo of him, Lewis and Piggott up front backed by Jarad van Schaik is a combo that is producing, definitely an improvement from last season.
FCAC: Ataullah Guerra has been unavailable for Charleston so far in 2019. What’s the latest on his status, and is there confidence he’ll be able to suit up for the Battery this year?
DB: It stems from his Trinidad & Tobago call up for the friendly in Iran [Iran won 1-0]. Visa issues and the process within Homeland Security has been a mess, combined with the government shutdown and then Carnival in the Caribbean did not help.
FCAC: Similarly, Ian Svantesson went out early last weekend with an injury. Is he expected back? If not, how does Anhaeuser compensate for not having either of the primary strikers he probably expected to lead the team?
DB: More than likely Ian will be sitting out Saturday for the lower leg injury. Expect to see rookie Arthur Bosua, another big body, up front with the supporting cast of Lewis, Piggott, Kotaro Higashi with van Schaik and Vince Candela in the midfield feeding the attack.
FCAC: Who has stood out defensively for this team?
DB: I coin them the Wall of Doom. Jay Bolt, Taylor Mueller, Leland Archer (USL Team of the Week selection in Week 5) and O’Brian Woodbine. This season, that quartet has recorded 60 clearances, 7 blocks, 19 INTs. All four are some of the top passers on the team with passing completion percentages in the high 70s to mid 80s.
FCAC: With the offseason rumors that Charleston might be in bad enough financial straits to fold – and then the more credible update that they’re exploring a sale of MUSC stadium – has the on-field product been distracted at all by the activity off the pitch?
DB: Every USL team is losing money. That is not a secret. The team is not being sold or scuttling operations. A possible deal to sell the stadium and practice grounds to the same company who recently bought the former Blackbaud HQ, parking lot and surrounding acreage for 35.5 mil appears to be stalled with land-use restrictions. The possibility of moving the team back downtown where they started in 1993 and played until 1999 is exciting. It did not detract from the shutout we doled out to Charlotte and if the farthest thing in the teams mind as the prepare to remain undefeated against Nashville.
FCAC: Lastly, any specific predictions for the game (including a final score)?
DB: Last two results where both draws, with the Battery playing with 10 holding off a NSC win at Nashville. The Battery was able to control Lancaster at LCFC last year and Rios was neutralized in all three NCFC matches. So they know how to contain and properly defend against that threat. Battery prevails 2-1 on a late minute goal, barring any heroics by referee Kevin Broadley.
Thanks again to Drew for taking the time to fill us in on the Battery. Check out his work art Soccer n Sweet Tea or on Twitter at @drewontarget.