Charleston Battery defender Colin Falvey doesn’t want to hear a single word about Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls or Thierry Henry.
The Battery captain is focused on one team and that’s Reading United.
Charleston will take on Reading United, a USL professional development team out of Reading, Penn., tonight at Blackbaud Stadium beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup.
The winner of tonight’s match will take on the Red Bulls next week. If Charleston beats Reading, the Battery will host the Red Bulls on May 29 at Blackbaud Stadium.
The Red Bulls roster features several marquee players, including Henry, a former English Premier League star, Rafa Marquez and Juan Agudelo.
“I don’t want to talk about the New York Red Bulls or Henry or any of their players,” Falvey said. “We’re playing Reading United and that’s the only team we’re focused on right now. We’ll worry about the next round and who we might be facing after the match. We’re not going to disrespect Reading because we know it’s going to be a difficult challenge.”
The 99th edition of the U.S. Open Cup features 64 teams, the largest field in the modern era (1995 to present), eclipsing the previous record of 42 teams set in 2005 and 2006. All Division I, II and III professional clubs are participating in the tournament for the first time ever. The Division I field includes all 16 U.S.-based MLS teams, which is double the number from the past five years and the first time since 2006 that all Division I teams will take part.
Reading United advanced to the second round by beating the New York Greek Americans, 2-1, last week. The only time the Battery has lost to a team from a lower division in the U.S. Open Cup was in 2005 when the Battery dropped a 3-2 decision to the Des Moines Menance.
“I’ve learned over the years that anything can happen in 90 minutes,” Falvey said. “Both clubs know what is at stake and who they could be facing in the next round. That should be incentive enough.”
The Battery has never won a U.S. Open Cup title but advanced to the final in 2008 and the semifinal on three occasions (1999, 2004, 2008). In 2011, the Battery lost 1-0 to Orlando City in the second round.
Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser said that Battery keeper Andrew Dykstra is on D.C. United’s U.S. Open Cup roster and as a result cannot play against Reading. Brock Duckworth, who played for the Wilmington Hammerheads last season, will start in net tonight.
“We were very fortunate to sign Brock,” Anhaeuser said. “For whatever reason D.C. United has decided to keep Andrew on their roster for all U.S. Open Cup games, so he won’t be available for us until they release him.”
For the third straight year, The Battery will take on a club from England in an exhibition match. The Battery will face Nottingham Forest, of England’s Football League Championship division, in a “friendly” match in July at Blackbaud Stadium, a source confirmed to The Post and Courier on Monday.
The Football League Championship is a division below the English Premier League, which is widely considered the top pro soccer league in the world.
The game is July 28 at 7:30 p.m.
This will be the fourth time in the last seven years the Battery has played an exhibition match against an English team. A year ago, the Battery and Portsmouth, a team from the Championship League, played to a scoreless tie. In 2010, the Bolton Wanderers became the first EPL team to play against the Battery. The Wanderers won the match, 2-0. The Battery beat Sunderland AFC, 2-1, in an exhibition match in 2004, but the Black Cats were a member of England’s Championship League at the time. Sunderland was promoted to the EPL four years ago.