If you’re a soccer fan and you’ve been slacking on your Charleston Battery support duties, Saturday is your last chance to redeem yourself. The home match against the Charlotte Eagles is the last game of the regular season for the Battery, and they sit in position to win the regular season USL-2 title with either a tie or a win. Currently the Battery is three points ahead of the second place Richmond Kickers. The regular season winner advances directly to the postseason championship match, while the second place finisher hosts a playoff against the third place finisher.
The first 500 children through the turnstile will receive a free soccer ball. There will also be a fireworks show (hopefully a celebratory one) following the game.
The Battery have performed well in their first season in USL-2, which they joined in the off-season after agreeing to voluntarily relegate themselves from USL-1. The Battery had played in USL-1 since 2004. The move helped the Battery cut travel costs, since USL-2 is currently only a six team league, but the decision was also a result of the upheaval among USL-1 owners and management following the sale of USL to NuRock Soccer Holdings.
The Team Owners Association (TOA), which was formed in 2008 to address issues within the USL-1 had intended for several years to turn the league into an alternative to MSL, which is currently the top professional soccer league in the U.S. After the sale to NuRock, and as a result of TOA’s disagreements, the majority of USL teams broke away from the league to form the North American Soccer League (NASL). However, the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) refused to sanction either league, and, as a temporary compromise, both leagues joined to compete under the title of USSF D2 pro league this year. The future of the USL and NASL, and, consequently, where the Charleston Battery might play in the future, is uncertain at this time.
However, all that Battery players and coaches can do is win the games they’re schedule for, and that’s exactly what they’ve done this season. In addition to positioning themselves to win the regular season championship, the Battery also showed well in this year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Cup is the premier national soccer competition available to all professional teams, including MLS and USL-1 and 2 teams. This year, the Battery made it to the quarterfinals, defeating MLS side the Chicago Fire along the way, before losing to the Columbus Crew, another MLS team.
Tickets for Saturday’s finale are $10-$18.