Wednesday, August 28, 2013

USL Pro Spotlight - No Strangers to Victory

Article By: Pedro Gomes


Photo Credit: Orlando Sentinel

The Charleston Battery and Orlando City are no strangers to winning the USL Pro Championship; in fact they are the only two teams to have done so since the league formed in 2011*.

Orlando City won the 2011 Championship game in penalty kicks against the Harrisburg City Islanders, while the Battery beat the Wilmington Hammerheads last season to earn their crown. And in a season where both teams finished 2nd and 3rd in the league it is sure to be a quality match-up of two dangerous opponents.

During the regular season, Charleston and Orlando played two matches with Orlando City holding the better record with 1 Win and 1 Draw. At first it might look as though Orlando holds the clear advantage over the battery but the games were fiercely contested and Orlando City pulled off the victory with a late penalty kick. 
Nicki Patterson being presented with 2012 BAttery MVP Award (CharlestonBattery.com)

Nicki Patterson, Midfielder for the Battery added his thoughts on the matchup in the latest edition of Off The Bench and had this to say about the upcoming game:

“I don’t think they are invincible “This year twice we have been right in the game, we tied the first one and we lost the second by a penalty kick… personally I think we should have taken the 4 points instead of the 1, so I think we are absolutely ready for the game”

Orlando City Head Coach, Adrian Heath shared his own thoughts on the upcoming match”

“It is lose or go home, Charleston has enough weapons on their team to make it difficult for us. But as I’ve said on numerous occasions, I’m more concerned with how we approach the game.”

Although both sides seem confident of their abilities to handle their opposition there are a couple of interesting tidbits heading into the matchup that lend a bit of intrigue to the contest.

Last season, Orlando City was knocked out of the USL Pro Semi-Finals at home by the visiting Wilmington Hammerheads in a wild 4-3 shootout. Orlando went down 3 goals to none by the 30’ before they scrapped back to score a couple of stoppage time goals to make the last few minutes wildly entertaining.

This season, the Charleston Battery will be traveling to Orlando City in hopes of playing spoiler for the second year in a row for the Home team of their Semi-Final match. Last year they traveled to Rochester and played to a 1-1 Draw in regular time before pulling out the 4-3 penalty shootout victory.

Who scored the first goal in the penalty shootout last year? Nicki Patterson, of course. And as Patterson alluded to in the interview, things seem to be lining up just like they had last season, so you would have to think that the Battery are feeling a bit confident they can pull out the same result again this season.

However, good Charleston may be feeling heading into this road matchup, they will still have to face one of the most potent offenses in USL Pro. They scored a total of 55 goals during Regular season play and 5 goals against the Riverhounds in the Quarterfinal matchup. 

Photo Credit: Orlando Sentinel

And although they are without a couple of keys pieces that made them a true dominant force in USL earlier in the season, they seem to be finding their scoring groove behind Long Tan and last year’s Scoring Champion, Dennis Chin.

Regardless of the outcome, this is definitely going to be an exciting match up with some serious potential for a ton of goals. Add in the sizzling atmosphere created by the over 10,000 fans and supporters in attendance and it is setting up to be the USL Pro game you don’t want to miss.

So sit back, switch on USLNation.com and turn your Friday evening into something special.

*Note: USL Pro came into existence in 2011 after its predecessors the USL First Division and A-League dissolved. Many of the teams currently in USL Pro have long histories in both leagues.

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