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How the Charleston Battery’s current squad resembles its last final four group a decade ago

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 10/31/23, 9:30AM EDT


From Leland Archer and Colin Falvey, to Augustine Williams and Dane Kelly, the squad’s makeup feels somehow familiar

What Micheal Azira and Nicki Paterson were to the Charleston Battery's 2013 squad, Emilio Ycaza and Nick Markanich are to the club's current group, which has reached this weekend's Eastern Conference Final of the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs.

Want to know how long it has been since the Charleston Battery was among the final four teams standing in a USL postseason?

Well, for one, when the Battery faced Orlando City SC a decade ago, the game wasn’t called the Eastern Conference Final – conferences simply didn’t yet exist in the league’s structure.

In the 10 years that have passed, there have been some memorable Battery postseason moments. There was the extra time victory against forever-rival the Richmond Kickers behind Forrest Lasso’s game-winner in 2015, or Zach Prince’s finish ending FC Cincinnati’s first campaign as an underdog before 30,187 fans at Nippert Stadium the following year.

More recently there was Nick Bosua’s extra time winner against the Charlotte Independence in 2020, the last postseason trip for the club prior to this season.

This year’s rejuvenated squad under the leadership of Head Coach Ben Pirmann, however, has a resemblance of the group that was among the Championship’s elite in its early years.

Here’s how 2013’s standouts track to this year’s squad.

Goalkeeper Trey Muse is – Odisnel Cooper: Both in their first years with the clubs? Check. Both delivering solid shot-stopping on the way to a No. 3 seed in the playoffs? Check. For a while, Cooper was the all-time leader in USL Championship shutouts, becoming the first to reach 40 in the league’s history. Muse this season has posted 13 clean sheets across the regular season and playoffs and 82 saves in 35 games – comparing favorably to Cooper’s 50 saves and seven shutouts in 28 games in 2013. 

Defender Leland Archer is – Colin Falvey: The reliable center back manning the defensive line who now wears the captain’s armband? Battery veteran Leland Archer is sounding a lot like Colin Falvey, who captained Charleston to the Championship title in 2012 and was the league’s Defender of the Year in 2013. Archer is currently fifth in appearances for the club in the USL Championship era with 129 across the regular season and playoffs, the most of any active player.

Full back Derek Dodson is – Quinton Griffith: The Antigua and Barbuda captain, Griffith was primarily a left back during his time with the Battery, but his speed on the ball joining the attack and defensive qualities bear a resemblance to what Dodson has brought Charleston this season. Dodson leads the Battery in minutes played this campaign, and like Griffith in 2013 this is his first year in Charleston.

Central Midfielder Emilio Ycaza is – Micheal Azira: Due to an early-season injury, Ycaza doesn’t have as many minutes (2,099) or goals (7) as Azira did in 2013 but the industriousness both players bring to the midfield and Ycaza’s scoring threat – now with four goals after scoring in consecutive playoff games – is as key in the middle of the park as Ariza’s was during his impressive playing career.

Attacking Midfielder Nick Markanich is – Nicki Paterson: Nick Markanich is currently second in goalscoring in his first season with the Battery with 10 goals, while also having chipped in three assists. That sounds an awful lot like Paterson, who was an influential playmaker and finisher that recorded 25 goals and nine assists during 78 USL Championship appearances for the club. Paterson had a knack for delivering in key moments, which Markanich has also lived up to so far.

Forward Augustine Williams is – Dane Kelly: What if we told you that in two seasons, Augustine Williams has scored only 15 goals fewer in 47 fewer games than Dane Kelly did over five seasons for the Battery between 2011-15? Granted, the league season is now longer, but that’s a fair clip for the Sierra Leone international compared to the USL Championship’s all-time leading goalscorer, and one that’s made him as essential a No. 9 to this group as Kelly was back then.

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