For three seasons, midfielder Zach Prince has been waiting for an opportunity to become a part of the Charleston Battery’s starting lineup.
Today’s GameWHO: Pittsburgh Riverhounds 0-2-1 (1 point) at Charleston Battery 1-1-0 (3 points)When: 7:30 p.m.Where: Blackbaud StadiumRadio: WQNT 1450-AM
If last week’s performance in Charleston’s home opener against the Antigua Barracuda FC is any indication of what’s to come, Prince might be making a strong case for more playing time.
Coming off the bench, Prince, 25, had a goal and an assist in less than a half of play against the Barracuda. That nearly matched his total production over the previous three seasons — two goals and two assists — for the Battery.
Since joining the Battery in 2010, Prince has played in 66 games, but the former College of Charleston star has started just 19 times. Prince, who has yet to start a game this season, didn’t play in the season opener against Richmond, but got about 30 minutes of playing time against the Barracuda last weekend.
Prince could get his first start of the season today at Blackbaud Stadium when the Battery takes on Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m.
“I’m like any other player, I want to be on the field every minute,” Prince said. “But I also want to win. If coming off the bench is what’s best for the team, then that’s what I’ll do. I might not like it, but that’s what I’ll do.”
Prince’s versatility might be what has kept him out of the starting lineup. He has played all over the field for the Battery — forward, center midfield, outside midfield and even at defender. He’s like a utility baseball player that can’t find a permanent home.
“You need guys like Zach on the team because they can play so many different positions,” said Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser.
“I’ve got confidence in Zach and I know he’s going to be smart and defend properly. Zach is kind of a hybrid player and I think that’s a good thing. He’s certainly turned some heads with his performance against Antigua.”
Prince is known for his chippy, aggressive play on the field — in games and in practice.
“I’m probably the biggest jerk on the field,” Prince said with a chuckle. “I’m sure there are times when the guys on the team want to punch me, but I’m a competitor. It’s the way I’ve always played the game.”
Prince has already been on two championship teams. In 2010, the Battery won the USL Second Division title and last year captured the USL Pro Division crown.
Many players go an entire career without winning a title, let alone two in their first three seasons at the professional level. Prince isn’t taking anything for granted.
“There are so many similarities between those two teams,” Prince said. “Both teams were very good defensively and both teams had great leadership.”
Prince, who played at Irmo High School before attending the College of Charleston, says he is subjected to a little extra scrutiny from local fans and friends. But he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My mother has been able to see me play all the time because I’m in Charleston, and I’ve been able to live here basically year-round for the past eight years,” Prince said. “A lot of the guys after the season is over, go back to where ever they’re from. I get to be here all the time. Who wouldn’t want to live in Charleston?”