Match: Penn FC vs Charleston Battery
Date: Saturday, April 21st
Time: 7 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central, 4 p.m. Pacific, 11 p.m. UTC
Venue: FNB Field (City Island. Harrisburg, PA)
Refs: REF: GUIDO GONZALES JR AR1: ZENO (GYU HO) CHO AR2: TYLER WYROSTEK 4TH: LUIS ARROYO
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required) WGCB (Harrisburg area only)
How Charleston will look: It’s only April, but this is the second and final regular season meeting between these two teams this year. It’s a bit strange, but the USL schedule is just like that sometimes.
The Battery haven’t been having the best time since their 1-0 win over Penn FC. They were on the receiving end of a 5-2 beat down courtesy of NYRB II and they settled for a 1-1 draw against the Bethlehem Steel. Just like Penn FC, they had a bye last week, so they should come up to PA well rested. They’ll also have the services of Neveal Hackshaw and Quinton Griffith, both of which were unavailable for the last match due to international duty.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC should be good and fresh coming into this match as well because they just had their second bye week of the season and it’s only week six. Hopefully that extra time off has allowed the team to continue to build chemistry with their new additions and help make their attack run smoother. Their offensive output has improved from match to match this season, but it needs to make a big jump Saturday night. One goal in three games isn’t going to cut it.
One interesting piece of trivia that came up during research was that Penn FC hasn’t beaten Charleston since July of 2014. You know, back when the USL was 14 teams and one of them was Orlando City SC. The City Islanders won that game 4-1 and the goal scorers were Jimmy McLaughlin, Jose Barril, Morgan Langley, and Matt Bahner.
What to expect: These teams met less than a month ago, so will the result be the same? Penn FC has undergone some big changes, adding former Battery player Tommy Heinemann along with four players on loan from the Ghana Premier League. Heinemann provided an immediate boost to the offense and her currently leads the team in shots despite only playing in one and a half matches so far. The other key player for the team could be Richard Menjivar. He leads the team with five chances created even though he only started in the match against ATL UTD 2.
With these changes, I’m not expecting another defensive struggle. Penn FC has had much more practice time, and that should help them to be more focused and effective than they were when they traveled to Charleston. After all, they didn’t even put a shot on goal in that match.
Charleston’s main goal will be to crack the Penn FC defense. They only generated two shots on goal during the first match up, but that was enough to get the win based on Penn FC’s offensive struggles. They’ll need a player like Ataulla Guerra to step up again to get them on the board. Penn FC has adopted something of a “bend but don’t break” philosophy when it comes to their defense. Goalkeeper Romu Peiser has shown that he can make some beautiful saves when the situation calls for it, but he has also been fortunate enough to see some opposing players miss open shots when the defense has been beaten.
One additional factor for Saturday night could be the weather. Penn FC had to wait a while for their home opener, but that might have ended up being a good thing. Most of the other northeastern teams have struggled with the extended winter weather in March and April. The current forecast for Saturday is a high in the low 60s, but that could drop off in the second half of the match. They’re also calling for windy conditions, which tend to be worse out on the island.
PREDICTION: Penn FC has a lot on their side going into this match. They’re strong at home, Charleston has been poor on the road, and they’ve had extra time to help bring the team together. Charleston is a dangerous team, but they don’t seem to have quite the same edge that they did last season. I think that Penn FC breaks their losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Battery.