Victor Mansaray of the Charleston Battery delivers a cross in a 2018 US Open Cup match against South Georgia Tormenta FC. Photo: Ross Almers Photography
Courtesy of Soccer ‘N’ Sweet Tea
For the 13th consecutive year, the Charleston Battery won their first match in US Open Cup play and advance to the next round, this year beating South Georgia Tormenta FC, 1–0 on Wednesday night. The win extends the Battery’s winning streak to five in a row in all competitions after defeating Bethlehem Steel FC at home this past Saturday.
The Battery started in a 3–4–1–2 formation, giving veteran keeper Odisnel “Super” Cooper the start, as well as Ryan Arambula and Angelo Kelly. Swedish Ian Svantesson and Patrick Okonkwo drove Coach Michael Anhaeuser’s offense up front on a humid Carolina evening.
The Battery played defensively, focusing on holding a physically aggressive Tormenta FC in the beginning of the first half. Head referee David Erbacher was on his whistle consistently stopping play. Each side lost any momentum as play started and stopped over and over.
In the 21st minute, the Battery scored the match’s only goal in dramatic fashion. Patrick Okonkwo, on loan from Atlanta United, opened his Battery scoring account with his first professional goal, playing a cross from Victor Mansaray off his head and putting the Battery up for the rest of the match.
In the 63rd minute, Nico Rittmeyer, already shown a yellow card in the 48th minute for a questionable tackle, was shown a second yellow card and sent off.
Having to play a man down for the remaining 27 minutes, the Battery then substituted out Okonkwo and Vincenzo Candela for Tah Brian Anunga and Kotaro Higashi to better control possession and manage the tempo.
The Battery frustrated Tormenta the remainder of the match, and that frustration caught up with them in the 87th minute. Tormenta midfielder Nils Vinyals was overly aggressive on his challenge to Higashi and also saw his second yellow of the night, sent off for the remainder of the match.
With an additional three minutes of stoppage time added on at 90th minute, the 10-men Tormenta squad failed to mount an attack and fell short at the final whistle.
When asked about tonight’s performance, Coach Anhaeuser had this to say: “The key is win and move on … We were unfortunate to get the red card there, but the guys defended well. I don’t think we gave up a shot which is fantastic for our defense.”
The Battery then host the Third Round of US Open Cup play the following Wednesday. Elm City Express of the NPSL will make the trek down from the northeast to Charleston. The match is tentatively scheduled for May 23rd with a 7 p.m. kickoff.