Heviel Cordoves logged his first professional hat trick and his fellow Cuban teammate Maikel Chang scored his first goal as a pro Saturday to lead the Charleston Battery to a 4-0 win over visiting Panama City Beach Pirates in the second round of the 2014 US Open Cup. Second-year forward Cordoves scored twice in the first half, missed a penalty kick in first-half stoppage time, and then took a pass from rookie midfielder Dante Marini, shrugged off a defender and finished strong in the box in the 50th minute.
It was also a big night for Chang, who came to Charleston after defecting from the Cuban National Team in Canada in 2012. He missed almost all of 2013 with injuries, but has been asserting himself in early 2014. Not only did he volley home a nice cross from rookie midfielder Justin Portillo in the 5th minute, he went the distance for the first time since turning pro.
The game was delayed by 15 minutes as the Panama City Beach staff and officials from U.S. Soccer tussled over the eligibility of three players on the Pirates roster. Eventually the Pirates removed the three — Andrew Beasley, Vitor Silva and Jack Wilson — from their starting XI and the game began. With only four reserves traveling with the Pirates to Charleston, Panama City Beach had no choice but to suit up reserve goalkeeper Andrea Giombetti as an outfield player in the 19th minute when defender Anderson Savage went down with an injury.
“That’s the only time I’ve ever had to (substitute a goalkeeper for an outfield player) at this level,” said Pirates Coach Greg DeVito. “But I’m very proud of the way our guys played tonight.”
The score could have been far worse. With a last-minute lineup change, no substitutes and a brand new squad playing its first game on the road at traditional Cup power Charleston, the Pirates looked in disarray during the first half hour. By the time they settled into the game the Battery were up 3-0.
“I always try hard,” Cordoves said. “For my team, for my city, for my flag. Charleston is my flag.”
While Cordoves and Chang got the goals, three rookies got credit for the assists: Midfielders Justin Portillo (2), Dante Marini (1) and Andre Lewis (1). The Battery went on to out-shoot the Pirates 21-5, but took the foot off the gas in the final 15 minutes.
Charleston will host the Orlando City’s U-23 PDL team at Blackbaud on May 28th in the Third Round of the Open Cup.
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