A Brief History
Charleston, South Carolina is a city well known for its rich history. Everywhere you look you're reminded of the past. It surrounds you as you navigate the crowded corridors of the Market, and seeps up from the spaces between the cobblestones of the 300-year-old streets. What isn't well known is the special place Charleston holds in the history of soccer in the United States.
Just a short 20-minute car ride from the Charleston peninsula, stands MUSC Health Stadium (Formerly Blackbaud Stadium), home of the Charleston Battery. The Battery, alongside USL rivals the Richmond Kickers, share the honor of being America's oldest continually operating professional soccer clubs. Upon it's completion in 1999, MUSC Health became the first stadium in the United States built specifically to house a professional soccer club.
The Battery are easily one of the most successful lower division clubs in the United States. Over the course of its history the club has won 4 USL titles.
Don't be fooled by the 3rd division status, Charleston is far from some scrub filled lower division pushover. The club has consistently filled its roster with a wealth of young talent, serving as a springboard for several players who have gone on to find success in MLS. Players like Osvaldo Alonso (Sounders FC) and Lamar Neagle (D.C United), who have both donned the yellow and black.
In addition to the club's success in the USL, the Battery have on several occasions made deep runs in the U.S Open Cup, where they are infamous for upsetting MLS clubs. Charleston's best run came in 2008, when the Battery made it all the way to the cup final, where they fell 2-1 to D.C United, in what may be one of the craziest finishes in the cup's history.
The Battery's knack for pulling off upsets hasn't been limited to just MLS, on occasion they've managed to surprise a few EPL sides. In 2004 the battery knocked off Sunderland 2-1, and just last Summer, West Brom barely escaped Charleston after a late goal gave them a 2-1 win.
In January, Atlanta United announced it had reached an affiliation agreement with the Battery, a partnership that makes sense on many levels. The affiliation gives Atlanta United the opportunity to loan its signees to a team with a proven record of developing young talent.
The Atlanta-Charleston partnership is also exciting for supporters of both clubs. The fairly close proximity of Charleston means Atlanta United fans are just a short road trip away from seeing the future stars of their club in action. Terminus Legion is no stranger to MUSC Health Stadium, as quite a few members made the 4hr drive to attend last years Carolina Challenge Cup.
The presence of few more screaming fans in section E01 will certainly be welcomed by The Regiment and QAR, the Battery's raucous supporters' groups.
All in all this agreement has the potential to be more than just a business deal between two clubs, but the beginning of a friendship between two cities and fanbases. A historic moment where the nation's oldest club plays a key role in the foundation of its newest.