Battery on verge of USL Pro playoff spot

Charleston Battery midfielder Zach Prince (24) is coming off a two-game suspension and should play Saturday night against Pittsburgh. (Shane Roper/Special to The Post and Courier) ¬ ¬

The Charleston Battery is one victory away from securing a spot in the USL Pro Division playoffs.

A win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night or in the season finale next Friday night against Harrisburg City is all that separates the Battery from the postseason.

So, it's no time for the Battery to take its collective foot off the gas pedal just yet, said Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser.

The Battery takes on Pittsburgh on Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Blackbaud Stadium.

Charleston is coming off a cross-county trip last week that saw the Battery defeat OKC Energy FC, 2-0, this past Sunday and lose to Sacramento Republic, 2-0, on Wednesday. The team was lucky enough to catch a cross-country red-eye flight from California right after the match with Sacramento. The Battery landed early Thursday morning in the Lowcountry.

Anhaeuser said the extra day's rest should help against the Riverhounds.

Obviously we would have liked to have wrapped up the playoff spot on the road, but we got the win in Oklahoma and that's a huge three points for us," Anhaeuser said. "We did a lot of traveling last week and we might have some heavy legs, so I think getting that extra day could be crucial for us. Had we been forced to play Friday night, I think it would have been a bigger issue."

The Battery have been difficult to beat at Blackbaud Stadium this summer, losing just once in regulation in 12 matches.

"We knew we'd have our final two games at home and we've had a lot of success at home," Anhaeuser said. "We can't take it for granted that we're going to win just because we're at home. We can't take our foot off the gas pedal just yet."

Anhaeuser used his roster generously during the recent road trip in hopes of resting several key players.

Midfielders Zach Prince and Amadou Sanyang each missed the game with Sacramento with an accumulation of yellow cards. Both are expected to be in the lineup against Pittsburgh. Midfielder Maikel Chang will miss the match with a knee injury.

"Overall, we're pretty healthy for this time of year," Anhaeuser said. "We've got a few minor knocks here and there, but nothing that the guys can't play through at this time of the season."

The Riverhouds are led by reigning USL Pro MVP forward Jose Angolo. Angolo leads the Riverhounds in goals with eight in 20 matches. Last year's league assists leader, Matt Dallman, has six on the season.

"They've got some talented players up top," Anhaeuser said.

The problem for Pittsburgh has been on defense where they have given up 43 goals, fourth most in the league.

"We're going to push forward and attack them," Anhaeuser said.