CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery announced on Tuesday it had reached an agreement with Israeli Premier League side Maccabi Haifa that will send Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky on a season-long loan to the Israeli club. The agreement will become official following a completed medical with the team.
The agreement extends to the end of the current Israeli Premier League season, which wraps up in May, and gives Maccabi Haifa the option to make the move permanent for an undisclosed fee. Like former Battery teammate Tah Brian Anunga's move to Nashville SC, Kuzminsky's loan deal includes a sell-on percentage should Maccabi Haifa make the move permanent.
“We are really excited for Joe. He has absolutely earned this opportunity and will be a true asset to Maccabi Haifa both on and off the pitch." said Battery owner Rob Salvatore. "As a club, the Battery will continue to develop top talent and provide them with the best opportunities to advance their careers both domestically and internationally. This is an exciting time for both Joe and the Battery and we look forward to watching him in Israel.”
Founded in 1903, Maccabi Haifa stands as one of Israel’s oldest clubs, and one of its most successful since rising to prominence in the early 1980s. Following its move to the top-flight of Israeli soccer, Maccabi Haifa won three titles in six seasons topping rival club Maccabi Tel Aviv. The club has gone on to claim a total of 12 Israeli league championships since winning their first in 1984.
“From day one it’s been our goal to get players in, be successful, and help them move on,” said Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser. “I’m sure other players see that and know that if they come in and do well were going to help them get to where they want to be.”
Kuzminsky finished the 2019 USL Championship season as one of the league’s best, finishing tied for third in the league with 97 saves to go along with eight shutouts.
And winning the Israeli Premier League offers an even bigger prize. The opportunity to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. Maccabi Haifa was the first Israeli club to qualify for the group stages of Europe's most prestigious club competition in 2002 and have reached the play-in stage or group stage matches of the tournament a total of eight times.
“It's a dream,” said Kuzminsky when asked about the move. “Ever since I was young, to play over in Europe, and this is an opportunity to achieve that. It's farfetched, but I could be playing against Cristiano Ronaldo [in the Champions League].”
Kuzminsky is the second former Championship player currently on Maccabi Haifa’s squad, joining former Sacramento Republic FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen with the club.