Match: Harrisburg City Islanders vs Charleston Battery
Date: Saturday, May 20th
Time: 7:00 PM Eastern
Venue: FNB Field (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Referees: REF: Luis Guardia AR1: Victor Vazquez AR2: Kevin Lock 4TH: Dustin Killick
How Charleston will look: The Battery started this season off hot, and they’ve quite assertively climbed to the top of the Eastern Conference. Romario Williams leads the team (and the league) with six goals, and 6’ 5” defender Forrest Lasso isn’t far behind with four goals of his own. Midfielder Justin Portillo has been the facilitator behind many of these goals, and his five assists leads the league. In case you haven’t noticed, Charleston is number one in a lot of categories.
Speaking of Forrest Lasso, he was pulled from Charleston’s Open Cup game (a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks) due to injury on Wednesday. He reported on his Twitter that he’s feeling fine, but we’ll see if Charleston decides to play it safe with him.
For those who've already asked, I'm alright. Took a few precision knocks, but we'll be back at it tomorrow! Few things 3 points can't heal— Forrest Lasso (@folasso) May 17, 2017
How Harrisburg will look: The City Islanders just played 120 minutes on Wednesday for their Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match. They were resting several of their usual starters, but fatigue could still be a factor. They may also be without Manolo Sanchez, who left Wednesday’s game in the first half due to an injury.
Harrisburg’s main concern going into this match will be trying to find a way to break out of their offensive slump. Their last goal was in the first half for their match against NYRB II, which adds up to over 250 minutes of scoreless play between the USL and Open Cup matches. On the positive side, the defense has bounced back after allowing three goals against NY. Harrisburg will be looking for their third consecutive clean sheet on Saturday night.
What to expect: Harrisburg hasn’t beaten Charleston since July of 2014. To put that in perspective, Pedro Ribeiro was playing for Harrisburg during that game while he was still on his first loan from the Philadelphia Union. So it’s going to be an uphill battle for the City Islanders to take any points from the Battery.
But you can’t overlook that Charleston has slowed down a bit since their 5-0 demolition of the Rochester Rhinos. Their last two wins over Bethlehem and St. Louis were both by much less dominant 1-0 scorelines. But with Harrisburg’s current offensive woes, one goal just might be enough for the win.
Harrisburg is going to have to rely heavily on their defense Saturday night. They need to shut down Charleston’s numerous weapons, which is no easy task. However, if they can throw the Battery off of their game, then that’ll open up the offense to look for a goal off of a quick counter or set piece. The City Islanders are simply a more confident team when they’re protecting a lead rather than digging themselves out of a hole.
PREDICTION: I’m saying that Harrisburg has a chance, but I can’t go against the number one team in the Eastern Conference. Harrisburg will put up a fight, but I predict a 2-1 win for the Battery.