LEESBURG, Va. – Burke Fahling’s first professional goal and Joe Kuzminsky’s 25th regular-season shutout lifted the Charleston Battery to their first victory of the 2021 USL Championship season with a 1-0 win against Loudoun United FC on Wednesday night at Segra Field.
The hosts opened the game positively and created a good early chance as Jacob Greene cut into the left side of the penalty area, underlapping Darluis Paz to receive a quick pass inside for a first-time shot to the near post that Kuzminsky got down well to save. Loudoun continued to have the better of the opening half as its pressing in the Battery’s half caused problems for the visitors, and I the 18th minute United went close again as Paz fired over after Robbie Dambrot cut back a low cross from the left byline toward the top-left corner of the six-yard area.
Dambrot almost put Loudoun ahead five minutes before halftime as the hosts recycled possession after a free kick from the left was cleared to the top of the penalty area before Michael DeShields played a clever slip pass to find Dambrot moving to his left for a shot that Kuzminsky parried away, allowing his defense to clear.
The Battery came out more sharply to start the second half as the game began to balance out, but neither side was able to create a serious look at goal until Loudoun threatened in the 66th minute when Jovanny Bolivar fired over the crossbar from 20 yards out.
Charleston grabbed the lead on its first shot on goal of the night in the 73rd minute, however, as Zeiko Lewis picked up possession on the right flank, juked past his marker as he cut centrally onto his left foot and delivered a piercing cross that was met by Fahling at the top of the six-yard area to a finish.
Kuzminsky came up with another key save five minutes later to keep the Battery ahead as Loudoun switched play to the left where Tyler Gabbara controlled beautifully before delivering a near-post cross that Massimo Ferrin turned on net at close range that Kuzminsky denied before his defense cleared. The Battery then almost added a second with five minutes to go as they switched play into space for DZ Harmon to fire shot toward the left corner that Loudoun goalkeeper Keegan Meyer kept out.
Loudoun almost found a late equalizer as a corner from the right by Ted Ku-DiPietro found Timmy Mehl at the near post for a flicked header that went just over the crossbar, but the Battery held firm during stoppage time to earn a valuable three points.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Joe Kuzminsky, Charleston Battery – Kusminsky recorded a three-save shutout to first keep the visitors in the game and then preserve their lead late as he reached a landmark individual with his 25th regular-season shutout.
CHS – Burke Fahling (Zeiko Lewis) 73’