Charleston midfielder Jose Cuevas was in a generous mood Wednesday night at Blackbaud Stadium.
And it was his Battery teammates who turned out to be the benefactors.
Dane Kelly scored two goals and Cuevas added three assists to lead the Charleston Battery past the Phoenix Wolves FC, 5-1, Wednesday night before a crowd of 2,786.
With the victory, the Battery improved to 9-5-6 (33 points) and moved into a fourth-place tie with the Charlotte Eagles in the USL Pro standings with six games left in the regular season. The top eight teams will advance to the postseason.
A year ago, Cuevas was among the top rookie scorers in the USL Pro with 18 points, on six goals and six assists. This season, Cuevas has tried to focus on distributing the ball and becoming more of a playmaker.
“I’ve been changing up my style of play since last year,” Cuevas said. “I scored some last year and I wanted to be more of a passer, a guy that sets up his teammates. I think that’s a role I’m most comfortable with and I think the hard work is finally starting to pay off.”
The Battery has struggled putting the ball into the net for the past six weeks. Charleston has managed just six goals in its last seven matches. The Battery had not scored two goals in a game since a 5-2 loss to Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup on June 12.
“We needed a game like this,” said Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser. “We needed to start putting the ball in the net. We needed to score some goals and get our confidence back. We were loose tonight. Anytime you get five goals at home, you make the fans happy.”
The Battery dominated from start to finish, generating scoring chances almost at will and finishing with a 28-5 advantage on shots on goal.
Charleston easily could have scored three or four times in the first half as the Battery dominated possession and outshot the Wolves, 13-2, in the opening 45 minutes.
Kelly hit the crossbar in the 37th minute, and Quinton Griffith, Cuevas, Mike Azira and Amadou Sanyang all failed to convert on quality scoring chances.
The Battery finally broke through when Colin Falvey slammed home his second goal of the season in the 31st minute off a corner kick. After a scramble in front of the net, the ball bounced to the Battery captain just inside the six-yard box. Falvey volleyed home the loose ball to score.
Charleston pushed its advantage to 2-0 on Kelly’s first goal of the game in the 59th minute. Cuevas was on the serving end of the goal.
The reigning USL Pro Rookie of the Year crossed a perfect ball to Kelly, who easily tapped in the ball from inside the six-yard box.
Kelly added his second goal of the night in the 64th minute. After Bryce Alderson’s shot hit the crossbar, the ball bounced out to Cuevas on the right side of the 18-yard box. Cuevas found Kelly just outside the six-yard box. The Jamaican stepped past a Wolves defender and beat Phoenix keeper Neal Kitson for the score.
Phoenix captain Scott Morrison closed the gap to 3-1 on his free kick from about 30 yards out in the 71st minute. Minutes later, a ball deflected off of Morrison into the Wolves’ net for an own goal and a 4-1 advantage for Charleston.
Sanyang put the finishing touches on the night with a goal in the 89th minute.