Match: Charleston Battery vs Harrisburg City Islanders
Date: Saturday, October 7th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: MUSC Health Stadium (Charleston, SC)
Refs: REF: DAVID ERBACHER AR1: Benjamin Wooten AR2: J. Benjamin Jackson III 4TH: David Cochrane
How Charleston will look: The Battery have a few things working for them going into Saturday night’s match and a few things that will be working against them. They’ve already secured a playoff spot, so the real pressure is off as far as that goes. So they’ll be playing for position, and a win would help them get back into second place in the Eastern Conference. It’s also their last regular season match at MUSC Health Stadium for 2017, so you can be sure they’ll be playing tough to protect their home turf. They’ve only lost one match at home all season.
Unfortunately for Charleston, they are down a few key players for various reasons. Goal scorer Romario Williams will be unavailable as he’s been called up by Jamaica for an international friendly in Saudi Arabia. They’ll also be missing defender (and header master) Forrest Lasso as he serves a yellow card suspension.
How Harrisburg will look: Harrisburg is currently riding a huge wave of momentum after defeating their last three opponents. That’s their first three match win streak since 2015. If they were to win against Charleston, it’d be their first four match win streak since 2014. Just to give a little perspective, the four teams they beat during that winning streak were LA Galaxy II, Dayton Dutch Lions, the New York Red Bulls Reserves, and Orlando City SC. The USL has changed a lot in just a few years.
Unfortunately for Harrisburg, they’re down a few players as well. Cardel Benbow, Pedro Ribeiro, and USL September Player of the Month nominee Ropapa Mensah are all suspended for disciplinary reasons. Benbow is still missing time for a red card and Ribeiro and Mensah both picked up their fifth yellow cards during Harrisburg’s last match. You also shouldn’t expect to see Abass Mohammed at this match. He has been called up to Ghana’s National Team and he’s currently with them in Uganda.
What to expect: Harrisburg had a gutsy 2-2 draw with Charleston earlier in the season, but that was a bit of an odd match. The referee was handing out cards left and right and Charleston played a man down for most of the second half. It doesn’t seem likely that Saturday’s match will unfold the same way.
Charleston will be missing Williams and Lasso, especially because they have combined for a whopping 21 goals in 2017. To put that in perspective, the entire Harrisburg team has only scored 28 goals this season. But luckily for Charleston, they have other weapons that’ll be stepping up to make an impact. Heviel Cordoves has been a big goal scoring threat of late, and players like Justin Portillo and Maikel Chang have combined for thirteen assists, so they know how to get the ball where it needs to be to start some scoring.
So what will Harrisburg do when they’re missing their leading scorer (Mensah) and their assists leader(Ribeiro)? Luckily they have players like Aaron Wheeler and Rasheed Olabiyi who should be ready to step in and make an impact in their place. Wheeler hasn’t gotten a start since June, but he’s healthy again and it’d be interesting to see what he does if he gets more time back on the pitch. If he’s a little rusty, then the City Islanders will need to rely on some of their speedier players like Paul Wilson and Jonny Mendoza to work their way behind the Charleston defense and get some scoring opportunities.
PREDICTION: I think the players missing for Harrisburg outweigh the players missing for Charleston. The City Islanders put up a fight, but I predict that Charleston gets the win 2-1.