Carolina Challenge Cup
Carolina Challenge CupWhen: WednesdayGames: 5 p.m. -- Houston vs. Vancouver7:15 p.m. -- Chciago vs. CharlestonTickets: 971-4628.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have been training for the better part of two months while the Charleston Battery have been together for less than a week.
The disparity in preparation was painfully apparent in the opening minutes of the Battery’s match with the Whitecaps on Saturday night.
Kekuta Mennah scored two goals and Daigo Kobayashi added another to lead Vancouver past Charleston, 3-2, before a crowd of more than 4,000 at Blackbaud Stadium.
With the start of the Major League Soccer season less than two weeks away, the Whitecaps appeared to be in midseason form. Charleston, which held their first practice earlier in the week, looked confused in the back and it cost them two early goals.
“We were not as organized as we should have been early on,” Charleston captain John Wilson said. “We made a couple of mistakes and they ended up in the back of our net.”
Manneh could have scored three goals, but the first, which came off a rebound just two minutes into the match, was disallowed after the Whitecaps were called for offsides.
Manneh followed that up just a minute later when he got behind the Battery’s defense on the left side and slid the ball underneath Charleston keeper Kevin Klasila for the goal.
Manneh got his second goal of the first half off a beautiful touch pass from Darren Mattocks in the 27th minute. Mattocks chipped the ball past the Battery defensive wall to Manneh, who volleyed his shot past Klasila past for the score.
The Whitecaps pushed their advantage to 3-0 on Kobayashi’s goal just five minutes into the second half.
Charleston finally broke through on Nicki Paterson’s volley in the 71st minute. Paterson began the play about 30 yards out finding striker Dane Kelly flashing into the middle of the field. Kelly chipped the ball over to midfielder Gibson Bardsley on the right flank. Bardsley slipped past one Vancouver defender just outside the 6-yard box and found Paterson all alone in front of the net for the score.
The Battery closed to within a goal, 3-2, on a great individual effort from Kelly, who got the ball on the left side, shouldered his way past a defender, and blasted a shot past Vancouver keeper Brad Knighton for the score in the 79th minute.
“We came out and played much better in the second half,” said Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser. “We made a couple of adjustments and kept our intensity up, which was good to see.”
The Chicago Fire opened the tournament with a 3-2 victory over the Houston Dynamo.
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