A week-long break couldn’t have come at a better time for the Charleston Battery.
With the effects of playing three games in five days last week finally catching up to Charleston, the Battery couldn’t overcome a case of heavy legs in a scoreless tie with VSI Tampa Bay FC Saturday night before a crowd of 5,111 at Blackbaud Stadium.
The Battery, which is 0-1-3 in their last four games, is 7-3-5 (26 points) heading into a week-long break. Tampa Bay is 7-6-2 (23 points).
After playing three games in five days a week ago, Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser hoped that a couple of days off last week would be enough to rejuvenate his team. But it was obvious from the opening kickoff that the effects of last week’s 4,500-mile odyssey were still lingering the Battery’s legs.
“You could tell we had some heavy legs,” Anhaeuser said. “They made us work defensively and I think that we got tired. You could see the heavy legs kick in. Sometimes it’s not the second and third games back-to-back that get you. Sometimes it’s when you have a little bit of a break and it catches up to you. We’ve got a week off coming up and we need it.”
The Battery will not play again until they face Orlando City, the top team in the USL Pro division, at home on July 5.
“We’ll give them a few days off and get them back out here hopefully rested and ready to go,” Anhaeuser said. “We’ll tweak some things and get ourselves organized for the second half of the season.”
The Battery outshot Tampa Bay, 13-11, but neither team generated a consistent attack.
“We wanted to get three points out of this game and we’re disappointed we only got a point out of it,” said Charleston captain Colin Falvey. “We feel like we dropped two points, but we did have a clean sheet and we did a point, so we’ll take it and move on.”
The absence of striker Dane Kelly, who leads the Battery with four goals during the regular season, didn’t help matters offensively for Charleston. Kelly was in Jamaica finishing up his paperwork for his United States green card. Kelly is expected to be back in the lineup for the Battery’s next home game against Orlando City.
“Certainly Dane would have made a difference for us,” Anhaeuser said. “Dane’s pace is going to give any team issues in the back, and Tampa Bay isn’t a very fast team as it is. We could have used him tonight.”
Tampa Bay featured two former Battery players in Tony Donatelli and Sallieu Bundu. Both were key components on Charleston’s 2012 championship team.
“It was a bit different to be on the other side tonight,” Donatelli said. “We had a great season last year and I made a lot of friends here in Charleston. It was a hard-fought game by both teams.”
One of Charleston’s best scoring chances came from striker Heviel Cordoves midway through the first half. Cordoves came down the left flank and blasted a shot on net that Tampa Bay keeper Alex Horwath got just enough to keep the ball out of the net.
Charleston midfielder Quinton Griffith had another quality chance in the 81st minute, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.
The Battery’s final chance came in stoppage time on Nicki Paterson’s free kick from 20 yards out. But again, Horwath was equal to the task.