Charleston captain Colin Falvey could not have picked a more opportune moment to score his first goal of the season.
Falvey scored off a header in the 73rd minute to lead the Charleston Battery past Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup Tuesday night before a crowd of 1,954 at Blackbaud Stadium.
With the victory, the Battery will face the winner of the Atlanta Silverbacks-Real Salt Lake game on June 12. The game will be on the road.
At 6-1, 190, Falvey, a center defender, is also brought forward for a set pieces that are within scoring distance.
In the waning minutes of a scoreless tie, the Cork City, Ireland native trotted forward to take his spot inside the San Jose penalty area. San Jose defender Brad Ring and Falvey jostled for position as Charleston midfielder Jose Cuevas set up from about 30 yards out on the left side.
“I’m always looking for Colin or Cody (Ellison),” Cuevas said. “They are the biggest targets. My first free kick was a disaster, so I wanted to make up for that. I found Colin and try to put it in a spot where he could get it.”
The ball curved toward the back of the Earthquakes net and Falvey shouldered his way past Ring and got just enough of his head on the ball to direct it past San Jose keeper David Bingham.
“Beautiful ball from Jose,” said Falvey, who scored for only the third time in a Battery uniform over the last four seasons. “He gave me something to work with. Ring and I have a little bit of history. We’d gotten into it when he played for Columbus and I figured I owed him a little bit. I don’t get many chances like that so I’ve got take advantage of them when I do get them.”
The Battery went toe-to-toe with their MLS opponents for most of the match. It didn’t seem to matter that the Battery was from a lower league. They never looked intimidated. The Battery held possession for long stretches and created just as many scoring chances as their MLS counterparts.
Beating teams from the MLS has become almost routine for the Battery. The victory was the Charleston Battery’s ninth over an MLS team during the U.S. Open Cup: DC United (1999), MetroStars (2001, 2004), Houston Dynamo (2007, 2008), FC Dallas (2008), Chivas USA (2009), Chicago Fire (2010) and San Jose Earthquakes (2013).
“I think our fans expect this kind of result when we play an MLS team,” Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser said. “I thought we controlled the second half. I thought they got some heavy legs. The only thing that worried us was that they could bring in
their firepower to finish the game.”
That firepower included reigning MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski, who entered the game in the 58th minute, but was never really a factor. Wondolowski scored 27 goals in the MLS during the 2012 season.
It was the fourth straight shutout and the seventh on the season for the Battery.
“They put out a good side and with Wondo coming off the bench they came after us in the second half,” Falvey said. “I’ve been playing professionally for 10 years and this might be the best back four I’ve ever played with. We just don’t give up many chances.”
The game was chippy throughout as the two teams combined for 34 fouls, four yellow and one red cards. Ring was ejected from the game after receiving his second yellow card in the 75th minute after a hard challenge on Cuevas. The Earthquake had to finish the game a man down.
The Battery return to USL PRO action on Friday night when they host the Harrisburg City Islanders at 7:30 p.m.
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