Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser doesn't think it'll be too difficult to get his club motivated for Wednesday night's U.S. Open Cup match against the Orlando City U-23 team - a squad made up mostly of current and former college players.
U.S. Open Cup
Who: Orlando City U-23 vs. Charleston Battery
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Blackbaud Stadium
A win over Orlando City U-23, a team affiliated with the USL Pro Division's Orlando City FC, would mean the Battery would face Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers on June 18 at Blackbaud Stadium.
That should be incentive enough for a club that traditionally has played well in the U.S. Open Cup. The Battery played for the U.S. Open Cup title in 2008, losing to D.C. United, 2-1, in the finals.
The U.S. Open Cup, recognized as U.S. Soccer's National Club Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 100 consecutive years dating back to 1914.
The Battery cruised to a 4-0 win over Panama City Beach Pirates, a USL PDL team in the second round of the tournament, on May 14. Orlando City U-23s beat Jacksonville United, 2-1, to advance to Wednesday's match.
Despite what's at stake for the club and who their its future opponent could be, Anhaeuser said the players are not about to overlook Orlando City.
"Honestly, I don't think I have to say much to anyone in our locker room to get them motivated for this match," Anhaeuser said. "It's a home match and no matter who we are playing, we want to win every match at home. We're using the potential of playing Portland as motivation. I'm familiar with some of the players on Orlando's U-23 team, so I know they've got some talent. They beat a very talented team from Jacksonville."
Portland (2-3-7), which has one of the most loyal followings in the MLS, is currently in eighth place in the Western Conference.
"We're focused right now on Orlando, we're not even thinking about Portland," Anhaeuser said. "We've always taken the U.S. Open Cup very seriously and I think that's why we've been able to have some success over the years. We have a very important match coming up against Orlando City (USL Pro) on Saturday, but we want to win (Wednesday) as well."
Anhaeuser said the Battery is relatively healthy at this point in the season. Only striker Mamadou Diouf has been limited in practice this week.
"Mamadou could probably play if we really needed him to, but we have to think about the weekend as well," Anhaeuser said.