The Charleston Battery and Rochester Rhinos have arrived at the top of the table in the USL’s Eastern Conference in vastly different styles.
The second-place Battery have scored 26 goals en route to its 7-2-6 mark; only one of the 12 teams in the conference has scored more. No. 1 Rochester has conceded only five goals on the way to a 9-0-5 record; no other USL team is even in single digits when it comes to goals allowed this season.
So it’s safe to say that the Battery attack vs. the Rhino defense will be a key component when the top two teams in the Eastern Conference square off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Blackbaud Stadium.
“Rochester’s undefeated right now,” said Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser after a 4-1 win over Harrisburg last weekend. “They’ve done great all season. They’re very organized defensively. We’re going to really have to work this week on moving it around the outside, and with our pace.”
Rochester’s 14-match unbeaten streak is built on a defense that features three players at 6-2 or taller, including 6-4 left back Unua Obasi. Goalkeeper Brandon Miller has a goals-against average of 0.32 and a save percentage of 0.889, though the Rhinos have the fewest saves in the league due to coach Bob Lilley’s solid backline.
Meanwhile, the Rhinos’ attack has produced 18 goals, ranking 15th in the USL. The top scorer is forward Christian Volesky, a new acquisition with five goals. Steeven Dos Santos, another new player, has scored four times.
After stalling out in draws against Wilmington and Richmond and a 2-1 loss at Charlotte, the Battery attack cranked back up for the 4-1 win over Harrisburg last Saturday. Dane Kelly scored twice in that match, giving him a team-best six goals in USL play this season.
The Battery will be without forward Heviel Cordoves (injury) and midfielder Quinton Griffith (suspension) as well as midfielder Sebastien Thuriere, who is playing with Haiti in the Gold Cup.
Charleston keeper Kevin Corby has started the last two matches while Odisnel Cooper recovers from a bruised shoulder. Corby saved five shots against Harrisburg.
The Battery have not lost a USL match at home since May 10, 2014, a streak of 18 straight games that includes a 12-0-6 record.