Battery falls to Rochester

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Rhinos forward Steevan Dos Santas punished the Battery for a breakdown in the 10th minute Sunday and the undefeated hosts’ dominant defense at Sahlen’s Stadium did the rest, handing Charleston consecutive losses for the first time this season.

After an almost sleepy first seven minutes, an extended possession by Rochester created an opening in the ninth minute when a pass from just above the penalty area whistled past a Battery midfielder’s ear and dropped right of the penalty area at the feet of Rhinos’ midfielder Tony Walls.

With Battery left midfielder Maikel Chang unable to turn him out, Walls touched it square past a frozen Shawn Ferguson to Dos Santos in the six-yard box just above the near post. Despite man-on defending by center back Taylor Mueller, Dos Santos beat the well-positioned Odisnel Cooper with a clever back-heel redirect. It took a couple bounces before rolling in at the far post.

Dos Santos’ moment also appeared to drain much of the life out of the Battery. Neither team would put another shot on goal until the second half, and Rochester would limit Charleston’s opportunities to a few half-chances for the rest of the afternoon.

Unlike Friday’s disappointing 1-0 loss at Toronto — where TFC II survived on the strength of Quillan Roberts’ eight-save performance until breaking through on a set piece in the 89th minute — Sunday’s loss was death by suffocation. Rochester coach Bob Lilley’s undefeated Rhinos looked bigger, stronger and more confident for most of the contest. But for some quality moments by Battery goalkeeper Cooper and some poor finishing, the score could have been worse.

The back-to-back losses dropped Charleston (9-4-7) to third place in the USL Eastern Conference, while first-place Rochester improved to 12-0-7. Expansion Louisville City FC, riding a five-match winning streak, surged to second-place at 10-3-5. Louisville’s one-point lead over Charleston also comes with two games in hand on the Battery.

The Battery return to Charleston for their next game at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, against FC Montreal. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased at charlestonbattery.com or by phone at (843) 971-4625.