On a miserable night in Charleston, Louisville City ended the Battery's twenty-nine game home winning streak with a strong 2-0 win at MUSC Health Stadium. The win solidified Louisville's hold on the top spot in the USL's Eastern Conference standings.
The rain and wind coming from Tropical Storm Bonnie started at noon and continued throughout the match. While the field held up remarkably well, the wind caused havoc on any balls in the air.
Even in the poor conditions, Louisville stuck to their typical game plan of building out of the back and keeping the ball on the ground. After initially probing the right side of Charleston's defense, Louisville's right back Kyle Smith began to make his mark on the match.
In the 20th minute, Smith's low cross was blasted home by George Davis IV. Charleston goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper had no chance to make the save. Illija Ilic nearly doubled the lead in the 31st minute, but Cooper came off his line quickly to snuff out the chance.
Louisville scored their second in the 39th minute. The Battery failed to clear a corner kick and Smith popped up a floater that eluded Cooper and found the far corner. Louisville took the two goal lead into the locker room at halftime.
Starting the second half with greater intensity, the Battery saw that spill over into a red card in the 50th minute. Romario Williams slid in late, exposing the studs of his boots, and upending a Louisville player. The wet conditions could have added to the challenge, but it was at least reckless. Louisville's possession game benefited greatly from the man advantage and they pinned eight of the Battery's nine field players deep in their defensive third for most of the second half.
Dante Marini's appearance in the 67th minute brought a spark to the Battery in the last portion of the match. Being outnumbered though, he was often forced to try to beat two or three players to create a chance. Justin Portillo had the best chance of the game for Charleston, a looping header in the 80th minute that narrowly sailed over the crossbar.
MAN OF THE MATCH
He did not enter the game until the 67th minute, but Marini looked dangerous and made the most of his opportunities.
KEY TAKE AWAYS
Shaky in the back
Understandable in the awful weather conditions, but the Battery's back line struggled to clear the ball effectively. Odisnel Cooper stuggled at times to read crosses and aerial balls. With a little pressure, Louisville was able to keep the Battery from building any substantive attacks.
Louisville found their joy on the flanks
Kyle Smith had a huge first half and took advantage of the space he was given in attacking the Battery's left side. He assisted on the first goal with a great cross and nearly created more chances by penetrating on the flank. Left back Ben Newman also had his opportunities to get involved.
Charleston travels to Jacksonville to face the NASL's Armada in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Third Round on Wednesday, June 1. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.