The Charleston Battery's Beto Avila celebrates scoring the decisive goal in his side's 1-0 win against Memphis 901 FC on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Michael Wiser / Charleston Battery
In the build-up to the Charleston Battery’s clash on Saturday night against Memphis 901 FC, Battery Head Coach Ben Pirmann tried to downplay the significance of facing the club at which he was voted USL Championship Coach of the Year last season.
“I know most of the guys on their team, I signed most of them, so it’s always a little difficult to play against your old club,” Pirmann told the Charleston Post and Courier’s Andrew Miller. “I’ve done it before, so it’s not a huge deal for me. You expect it to happen when you play a high-level sport.”
And yet, after the Battery took a 1-0 victory against Memphis through a first-half goal by Beto Avila, you couldn’t help but believe there was a slightly higher level of satisfaction over this victory than some others this campaign.
“Look, we’ve got four players on this team and myself and [assistant] coach Devin [Rensing], who were [at Memphis last year],” said Pirmann postgame. “We played a great game against them in Memphis and came out with zero points. We wanted to make sure we got all three points.
“But, it’s way more about us, way more about the team, where we’re at in the table and pushing on.”
Make no mistake, Saturday’s result was a crucial one for the Battery any way you dice it. While Charleston sat in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, 901 FC arrived with a five-point deficit and holding two games in hand, enough in reserve to surpass the Battery in the table.
Before a crowd of more than 4,000 fans, the Battery ensured they’d retain the upper hand. With a composed performance that allowed Memphis only one major opportunity in first-half stoppage time, Avila’s well-constructed and taken finish provided the difference on the night.
With the win, the Battery extended their lead over Memphis to eight points, placing them in position to secure a top-three spot over the final quarter of the season.
“It’s massive,” said Battery goalkeeper Trey Muse, one of those who followed Pirmann from Memphis this offseason. “I think it’s always good to win. It’s always great to win at home as well. Awesome support here from the fans tonight. As we’re making a push into the late stages and into the playoffs, every game is important. To be able to build on a win like that is huge.”
The Charleston Battery have more than doubled their win total from a season ago, while Saturday marked Head Coach Ben Pirmann's 50th win on the sidelines in the USL Championship's regular season. | Photo courtesy Michael Wiser / Charleston Battery
The transformation of the Battery under Pirmann’s guidance has been one of the stories of the season in the USL Championship so far. The club has already more than doubled its victory total from a campaign ago and is closing in on its first home playoff game since 2018.
It’s been accomplished with returning faces as well as newcomers. 2022 Championship All-League selection Augustine Williams leads the team in goals once again, while Fidel Barajas’ late-season cameo in 2022 set the foundation for a season in which the 17-year-old Mexico youth international currently leads the Championship with eight assists.
Alongside Muse – whose ninth shutout of the season surpassed his mark of eight in Memphis last year – players like Derek Dodson and Chris Allan have been key additions whom previously played for Pirmann in Memphis. Allan shone against his former club on Saturday, providing the assist on Avila’s goal while putting in a solid shift in the center of midfield, while Dodson has been one of the Battery’s most consistent performers on the back line all season.
Pirmann, though, has pulled it all together, emulating the success and togetherness he built in Memphis over two full seasons. Now the Battery’s main man, Saturday saw him earn his 50th regular season victory in the league, and showed how his approach is bringing similar performance to the Lowcountry.
“It was all about being selfless tonight,” said Pirmann. “It was hot, it was hard. [Memphis is] probably the top most-talented team of the entire division. You have to fight [and] you have to be warriors. You have to look out for each other, and we did.
“Excellent, excellent work.”