Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser had little time to celebrate the club's 3-2 victory over the Orange County Blues FC on Wednesday night.
While the players went through their customary post-game handshakes and congratulatory slaps on the back, Anhaeuser had already turned his attention to Friday night's match against arch-rival Rochester.
The Battery will take on the Rhinos 7:30 p.m. Friday at Blackbaud Stadium.
With two matches in less than 72 hours, Anhaeuser wasn't just coaching one game against the Blues on Wednesday night. Anhaeuser was trying to conserve his team's energy with another match looming less than two days away. Anhaeuser knew the Battery needed three points against the Blues to keep pace in an ever-tightening playoff race in the USL Pro Division.
As a result, Anhaeuser kept some of his reserves on the bench, so he'd have a fresh team to face the Rhinos.
"It's such a quick turnaround against Rochester that you are kind of coaching two games," Anhaeuser said. "We wanted to keep some guys fresh and use as many subs as we could so we'd have our legs on Friday against Rochester."
It was with that in mind that Anhaeuser left veteran defender John Wilson out of the lineup against the Blues on Wednesday night.
"John will be ready to go against Rochester and when you've got two games in three days, that's kind of the mentality that you have to have," Anhaeuser said. "We had to have those three points against Orange County, but we also knew we had another match against Rochester, which is just as important."
Unfortunately for the Battery, defender Emmanuel Adjetey tweaked his hamstring against the Blues and is not expected to play against Rochester.
"We don't think it's too serious, but we're going to be cautious," Anhaeuser said.
Dane Kelly, who had two goals in the Battery's win over Orange County, played nearly the entire match Wednesday night, but feels he can go another 90 minutes against Rhinos. Anhaeuser said he had hoped to play Kelly only about 70 minutes against Orange County, but ended up keeping the talented striker on the field longer than he had anticipated.
"I'm fit, I feel good, so I don't see why I can't go 90 minutes (Friday)," Kelly said. "I just hope it's not too hot."
The Rhinos' success this season has been built around a defense-first philosophy that has produced two statistical superlatives: Rochester has the league's lowest goals-allowed average - and the league's lowest goals-produced average.
Charleston is riding a six-game unbeaten streak - 3-0-3 - its longest of the season. During its current run the Battery is averaging a solid 1.5 goals per match - with its only scoreless outing coming at Rochester on Aug. 1.
Much of the credit for that change has been the play of midfielder Jose Cuevas, whose return to his old team on July 15 has helped spark the turnaround. He was particularly sharp on Wednesday, with a goal and two assists.
The counter-attacking Rhinos boast the league's hottest goalkeeper in John McCarthy, who leads the league with nine shutouts and a 0.57 goals against average.