The Charleston Battery has some unfinished with Major League Soccer club Orlando City SC and Brazilian superstar Kaká as the teams face off Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup.
The Battery’s Feb. 25 match with Orlando during the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium was halted by a rainstorm at a 1-1 draw. Navion Boyd’s “Lightning Goal” was the equalizer Charleston just before the match was called.
That experience should aid the Battery as the clubs meet again in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which features teams from the MLS, the North American Soccer League and the Battery’s United Soccer League.
“Absolutely, it should help,” said Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser, whose team is 6-1-6 in the USL season, tied for second in the Eastern Conference. “We competed with them, a team with Kaká and world-class international players. We competed with them for 45 minutes, and were doing well toward the end of the game.
“Of course, that was the preseason. This game means a lot, and there’s a lot more on the line from a competitive level. That will push them to another level, but we hope it pushes us to another level, too.”
Orlando City has been the surprise story of the MLS season after moving up from USL as expansion club. Coach Adrian Heath’s club is 5-5-5 thus far, riding a five-match unbeaten streak for the third-best record in the MLS Eastern Conference.
“They have done fantastically well,” Anhaeuser said of Orlando City. “They have great fan support at the Citrus Bowl and their roster is loaded, with Kaká and young internationals from four or five different countries.
“We’ve been playing them in the USL for four or five years, and there’s a reason they are a good team. They just have kept it going.”
Orlando City also features Brek Shea, veteran of the U.S. National Men’s Team; former Portland and L.A. Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts; and defender Aurelien Collin, MVP of the 2013 MLS Cup.
For the Battery, defender Quinton Griffith is back after undergoing knee surgery, and “probably” will be available, Anhaeuser said.
“We should have a full selection of players for the first time this season,” he said.