When the Charleston Battery agreed to become Vancouver's USL Pro affiliate, they expected the Whitecaps to provide them with a few players. And so far, those players have done well, with every match featuring between three and six of the eight Caps on Tour.
But they did not expect to see west coast weather in the Palmetto State. The rain started early, came down often, and was still soaking the pitch long after the players had escaped to the relative safety of the locker rooms.
New York's Michael Bustamante gave the Reserve side a lead in the 66th minute from the penalty spot, but Dane Kelly pulled them back less than ten minutes later. With the match finishing one apiece, the Battery has been difficult to beat, but three from twelve simply isn't good enough.
"Their keeper made two or three really good saves in the first half," said Charleston manager Mike Anhaeuser. "They put the penalty away, but you have to credit our guys for coming back down. It was a good ball by Zach Prince, Heviel Cordovés whipped a great ball into the box, and Dane Kelly finished it off. Unluckily, we didn’t get the second one to win."
The Battery adjusted to the conditions early, and had the better chances in the first half. In the 23rd minute, Kelly pressured Kevin Politz, winning the ball just outside the box, and forcing New York goalkeeper Ryan Meara into making a difficult save.
Mamadou Diouf, one of the Whitecaps currently on loan to the Battery, collected the rebound, but again Meara made the save, which was at last cleared by the Red Bulls.
When the halftime whistle blew, the Red Bulls eagerly sprinted to the locker rooms. Both sides returned to the pitch a bit sluggish, with a lot of the action being held up in the middle of the park.
That all changed in the 66th, when prince was controversially judged to have committed a foul in the box. Referee Howard Ash awarded the Red Bulls a penalty kick, which Bustamante calmly stuck away.
Eight minutes later, Prince got on the right side of the narrative with a deft through ball from just inside his own half, finding Cordovés, who immediately fired a low cross, which Kelly buried.
In conditions like these, the Beautiful Game can be anything but. It became more of a grudge match, of hard tackles, uncontrolled slides, and a lot of physicality. Things came to head in the 76th minute. The referee tried to intervene, but there were simply too many players involved.
By the 79th minute, he had handed out four yellow cards, two of which went to Meara. Another player involved, Colin Falvey, would later receive a second yellow as the game neared stoppage time.
The Battery now head on the road, where they'll meet the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday at 3:00 PM PST, before heading to Rochester, Harrisburg City, and Dayton. Their next home match will be on May 10th, when they'll greet Wilmingdon Hammerheads FC.
Wow, what an attention-grabbing night at The 'Baud! Flash Flood warnings all around, fans dawning rain ponchos, pitch under water, and smiling spectator ref throwing cards. Enjoy, comments are welcomed. Thanks, Kim. Click here to open our fullscreen slideshow.