Heviel Cordoves has been the closest thing to instant offense for the Charleston Battery all season.
Cordoves, who played less than 20 minutes against Orlando City on Friday night, recorded one of the biggest goals to date this season.
Cordoves scored in stoppage time as the Battery managed a 1-1 draw against Orlando City, the top team in the USL Pro Division, before a crowd of 4,387 at Blackbaud Stadium.
The Battery, which hasn’t won a match since their 4-1 victory over Houston’s reserve team on June 8, is 7-3-7 (28 points) and moved into a tie for fourth place in the USL Pro Division. Orlando City is 10-2-5 (35 points).
Despite playing in 14 matches this season, Cordoves has started just three times and averages less than 30 minutes a game.
The Cuban forward has proven to be an effective offensive threat coming off the bench as he recorded his third goal of the season.
“Heviel came in and did exactly what we wanted him to do,” said Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser.
“We bring him in because he can be such a dangerous player for us. He has that quality to change the course of a game with one shot, and that’s what he did tonight.”
After dominating large chunks of the game, especially in the first half, the Battery found itself down 1-0 going into stoppage time.
But a turnover deep inside Orlando’s territory, a quick pass to Cordoves about 25 yards from goal, was all the Battery needed to tie the game.
Cordoves got the ball at a bad angle, stepped past an Orlando defender and blasted a shot that deflected off a Lions defender and past Jon Kempin for the tying goal
“I didn’t have much of an angle to shoot, but I knew I had to put something on frame,” Cordoves said. “I was lucky that it was deflected. I know that’s why coach put me into the game, to score. I was ready to shoot when I got the opportunity and took it.”
The Battery, which outshot the Lions, 18-9 for the match, more than doubled Orlando’s scoring chances, especially in the first half. Dane Kelly, who returned after a two-match absence, led the Battery with five shots on goal and three quality scoring chances in the first half alone.
“If this was a boxing match, they would have stopped it after 20 minutes,” said Charleston captain Colin Falvey. “We should have picked up all three points tonight. We should have been up 1-0 or 2-0 after the first half. But that’s the way soccer is sometimes.”
Orlando City grabbed a 1-0 lead on Rob Valentino’s rebound goal in the 56th minute. After a deflection deflected off of the post in the box, the ball bounced out to Valentino, who slammed it home for the score.
As the match got more physical, tempers flared as Orlando’s Luke Boden and Charleston’s Mark Wiltse got into a shoving match in front of the Battery’s bench midway through the second half. As the two teams gathered, Orlando’s Adama Mbengue shoved Charleston’s Jose Cuevas in the face. Mbengue was issued a red card, and the Lions were forced to play with a man down for the final 30 minutes of the match.
“That probably helped us late in the game,” Anhaeuser said. “We put them under a lot of pressure, and you could tell their back four were getting tired.”