USOC: Getting to know the Charleston Battery

Quakes open their U.S. Open Cup play against the Charleston Battery on May 28

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Charleston Battery

Tuesday, May 28 - 4:30 p.m. PT

Blackbaud Stadium

BUY TICKETS

Livestream available courtesy of USLnation.com

At first glance, San Jose Earthquakes fans might expect their club to waltz past their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup opponent, the Charleston Battery of the USL PRO – the third division of United States professional soccer.

Not so fast.

The Battery are the defending USL PRO champions after finishing third in the regular season standings with a 12-10-2 mark. The Battery have four championships to their name since being christened in 1993 and are a traditional powerhouse from the many iterations of the USL.

Charleston has more than league competition pedigree. They have eight MLS scalps to their credit in U.S. Open Cup play and host an annual preseason tournament, the Carolina Challenge Cup.

Translation: They’re plenty familiar with playing MLS squads. Their roster is also laden with fringe MLS prospects who would like nothing more than to impress the club’s brass.

To sum it up: The Battery have a tradition of success in the U.S. Open Cup and in their league, a roster with talent and desire and they’re playing at home. That’s the recipe for a dangerous squad.

Now, that being said, the Earthquakes have plenty in their cupboard to compete against the Battery. The 2012 Supporters’ Shield trophy winners have a deep squad that is finally approaching full health after missing a score of key contributors for much of the season. They are the favorites going into the match. However, fans should be wary of the Battery.

Here’s a glance at what the Earthquakes are up against next week at Blackbaud Stadium:

CHARLESTON BATTERY

League: USL PRO

2013 Record: 6-2-0, 15 GF / 8 GA

2013 Home Record: 3-0-0, 10 GF / 2 GA

Players to Watch: M Michael Azira, F Nicki Paterson, M Zach Prince, F Dane Kelly

USL Championships: 1996, 2003, 2010, 2012

Home Venue: Blackbaud Stadium

Record in USOC vs. MLS Teams: 8-11

2012 USOC Results:

W 2-1 vs. Reading United

L 0-3 vs. New York Red Bulls

Goalkeeping at a Glance:

Cuban international Odisnel Cooper is the starter after defecting to the United States in October of 2012 prior to a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier vs. Canada. Cooper suited up for Cuba in their first three matches during the third round of qualification before defecting. Cooper has been the main man in goal with three clean sheets in seven games, but former Santa Clara standout Kevin Klasila is also in the mix. Klasila started and picked up a clean sheet in Charleston’s 1-0 win against the Portland Timbers U-23s in Tuesday’s second round match at JELD-WEN Field.

Defenders at a Glance:

The only Charleston defender to suit up in all eight of their regular season games to date is Irish captain Colin Falvey. The center back anchors a back line that includes five-year MLS veteran John Wilson, former Earthquakes trialist Taylor Mueller, Fresno native Cody Ellison and former University of South Carolina standout Mark Wiltse. The Battery have been tough on opponents at home, allowing just two goals in three games.

Midfielder at a Glance:

Scottish attacker Nicki Paterson was a 2012 USL PRO First Team selection after tallying 10 goals, second most in the league. Zach Prince is another one to keep your eye on. The four-year Charleston veteran has two goals and two assists in eight games this season and also recorded the game-winning assist in the Battery’s 1-0 win against the Portland U-23s. Ugandan Michael Azira is tied for the team lead with three goals from eight games. Former Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders FC man Amadou Samyang and Vancouver Whitecaps FC loanee Bryce Alderson are also in the fold. Much of the offensive production this season has come from the team’s midfield.

Forwards at a Glance:

The two forwards who see most of the time for Charleston are Jamaican Dane Kelly and Cuban Evier Cordovez. Kelly has two goals in eight games this season while Cordovez has one in seven. Kelly is in his third season with the Battery after joining the squad on loan from Jamaican side Tivoli Gardens. He had six goals in 19 games for the Battery one year ago. Off the bench, Austin Savage is a player to keep an eye on. The Clemson product scored the game winner against the Portland U-23s on Tuesday.