Red Bulls survive wild finish to earn draw with Battery

DANIEL ISLAND — The New York Red Bulls II held on for a 1-1 draw against the Charleston Battery on Saturday night, despite a thrilling ending that saw Charleston hit the post in the final seconds.

The final four minutes of the game featured end-to-end action as both teams had chances to take all three points. First, Sebastian Thuriere went down in the box, causing the Battery bench to erupt with calls for a penalty kick. It was not given, and the Red Bulls were able to counterattack and nearly win the game at the other end.

Charleston’s Ricky Garbanzo had two of the best chances to score as the final seconds ticked by, forcing Red Bulls goalkeeper Rafael Diaz to make a save and then hitting the post on the last kick of the game on the rebound attempt.

The draw meant that it was the first time this season Charleston has dropped any points. Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser said the team played a little sluggish at times after being off last week.

“We made it difficult for ourselves. We could have probably put them away, but we did some things to give them chances in the end,” Anhaeuser said.

The Battery scored eight goals in the first three games, but New York gave them a tougher challenge defensively, limiting forward Dane Kelly’s ability to move around in the first half.

Memo Rodriguez, a loanee from Charleston’s MLS affiliate Houston Dynamo, opened the game up by scoring right before halftime. Rodriguez received a pass from Kelly at the top of the box, and had just enough time to line up a shot that spun up and around Red Bulls goalkeeper Rafael Diaz. The ball appeared to be going just wide of the post, but it landed in the back of the net to the surprise of many in the stands.

“It’s a different position for him,” Anhaeuser said of Rodriguez. “He likes to be a little deeper, but where he’s good is around the box. “

Rodriguez was making his first start Saturday, although he has been used as a substitute this season. Rodriguez is primarily a central midfielder, but Anhaeuser said he wants to find a spot for the 19-year-old to get regular minutes in.

“He’s good at taking a ball and finishing, so it was great for him to get a goal and get his feet wet,” Anhaeuser said.

Anatole Abang eventually tied it for the Red Bulls in the 68th minute, after Sean Davis took a free kick from around 30 yards out. The ball found Abang in the box, who headed it past Cooper and into the goal.

The goal came five minutes after it looked like Charleston was going to put the game away. Quinton Griffith made a blazing run down the right wing in the 63rd minute and slid a ball into the box where two Battery players were streaking towards the goal. Diaz came out to stop Garbanzo from making a play, but the ball went between the two players and right to the feet of Kelly, who was facing a wide-open goal. However, Kelly slipped while shooting and his shot banged off the crossbar.

Griffith returned from an injury to make his first appearance since the season started, although it was not in his usual position. Instead of playing on the back line, he played as a defensive midfielder, which allowed him to make several attacking runs down the right side of the field.

Charleston (3-0-1) next plays at Wilmington on April 26 at 3 p.m.

Charleston: Cooper, Woodbine (yellow 79’ Sub. Marini 81’), Mueller, Ferguson, Adjetey, Griffith, Portillo, Thuriere, Chang (yellow 61’. Sub: Prince 64’), Rodriguez (Goal 45+2’. Sub: Garbanzo, 59’), Kelly (assist, Sub. Cordoves 72’).

Houston: Diaz, McLaws, Jean Baptiste, Ouimette (Sub. Da Fonte 78’), Thomas (Sub. Plewa 83’), Metzger, Davis (assist, Sub. Castellanos 70’), Stolz, Sanchez, Abang, Etienne (Goal 68’, Sub. Bedoya 70’)