MATTHEWS, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence will face Southern Derby rival the Charleston Battery on Saturday night in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs in a game that marks the first home playoff game in the Independence’s history. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
The @Independence are making their first trip to the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season after ending the regular season on top of Group G thanks to a 1-0 win against North Carolina FC on the final Saturday of the regular season. Charlotte saw a major uptick in its fortunes after the offseason signing of the Championship’s all-time leading scorer in Dane Kelly, who led the side with 11 goals. The Independence also got a stellar campaign from goalkeeper Brandon Miller, who led the league in saves with 61 and recorded five shutouts. The biggest indicator of Charlotte’s turnaround, though, might have been its series against NCFC. Having previously only taken one victory against its in-state rival, the Independence swept all four games in the regular season, which ended up the difference between the teams in the standings.
While Charlotte returns to the playoffs, the @Chas_Battery return for a 10th consecutive season in the Championship, maintaining the club’s record of reaching the playoffs in every season of the league’s history. The Battery were narrowly edged into second place in Group H by the Tampa Bay Rowdies but roll into the playoffs having won seven of their last nine outings. Led by Bermuda international Zeiko Lewis in attack, Charleston’s offseason moves paid off handsomely with forward Stavros Zarokostas and midfielder Robbie Crawford quickly fitting into their roles in the squad. Having only lost twice all-time to the Independence in their prior 16 meetings, the Battery will be looking to pull a road victory to open the postseason for a second consecutive year.
2 – The Independence scored both times they were awarded a penalty kick during the regular season, while Brandon Miller saved both penalty kicks he faced in the campaign.
21 – Zeiko Lewis has recorded a combined 21 goals and assists (14G, 7A) over the past two seasons, more than double the total of any other Battery player.
FiveThirtyEight.com Match Predictor: Charlotte Independence 50%, Charleston Battery 50%
Charlotte Independence – GK: Brandon Miller; D: Aaron Maund, Hugh Roberts, Duke Lacroix; M: Joel Johnson, Enzo Martinez, Brunallergene Etou, Jake Areman; F: Rey Ortiz, Dane Kelly, Luke Haakenson
Charleston Battery – GK: Joe Kuzminsky; D: AJ Paterson, Leland Archer, Jarad van Schaik, Logan Gdula; DM: Robbie Crawford, Angelo Kelly-Rosales; AM: Zeiko Lewis, Stavros Zarokostas, Mauro Cichero; F: Nicque Daley
Charlotte Independence – None
Charleston Battery – None