The Charleston Battery and Phoenix Rising FC will square off in the 2023 USL Championship Final in a rematch from the opening weekend of the 2023 season at Patriots Point. | Photo courtesy Michael Wiser / Charleston Battery
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery and Phoenix Rising FC will square off in the 2023 USL Championship Final on Sunday night at Patriots Point with the hosts looking for their fifth league title and the visitors their first in what promises to be a compelling, attacking contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and the game will air on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and SiriusXM FC. Here’s what you need to know.
How They Got Here
Charleston Battery (17-9-8, 59pts) – The Battery advanced to their first Championship Final since the 2012 season with a 2-1 victory last Saturday night against Louisville City FC to claim the Eastern Conference title thanks to goals by Arturo Rodriguez and Augustine Williams. Rodriguez opened the scoring in the fifth minute with his second goal of the postseason, a perfectly-placed free kick to the top-left corner of the net, before Williams converted from the penalty spot in the second half for his 15th goal of the campaign. Charleston is aiming to cap a remarkable turnaround season after missing the playoffs a season ago and has seen numerous contributors in attack over the course of the past three games. In addition to Williams and Rodriguez, Emilio Ycaza has also scored twice – both headed finishes from set pieces – while the side has seen six different players find the net overall while only allowing a pair of goals in three games.
Phoenix Rising FC (12-10-12, 48pts) – Rising FC continued its remarkable run of road success this postseason to claim a 2-1 victory against Sacramento Republic FC and the Western Conference title last Saturday night as Emil Cuello scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner in the second half. Rising FC’s win saw it claim its third Western title in six seasons and now the side will look to win the Championship Final for the first time after being denied on the road in 2018 by Louisville City FC before the cancellation of 2020’s title game. After winning just five times on the road in the regular season, Rising FC has taken three consecutive road victories at San Diego Loyal SC, Orange County SC, and Republic FC to reach this stage. The postseason run has also matched Phoenix’s longest league winning streak of the campaign. As the Western Conference’s No. 6 seed, Rising FC is the lowest seed to reach a Championship Final since the league divided into two conferences in the 2015 season.
Charleston holds a 1-0-1 record against Phoenix, claiming their first meeting in the 2014 season before the sides played to a 1-1 draw in the opening game of the 2023 USL Championship regular season at Patriots Point.
11 – The Charleston Battery have scored 11 goals inside the opening 15 minutes of games this season, second-most in the league, and has lost only once when scoring the opening goal this season in 20 games, winning 16 times.
19 – Phoenix Rising FC has recorded 19 goals in the final 15 minutes and stoppage time of the second half across the regular season and playoffs, the most of any team in the league. The side has rallied for victory twice after conceding first so far this postseason.
Players to Watch
Charleston Battery – Arturo Rodriguez: The attacking playmaker is tied for the postseason lead with a combined four goals and assists (2G, 2A) in three games, and will face his former club looking to become the second player to win both the Championship and League One Final (North Texas SC, 2019).
Phoenix Rising FC – Danny Trejo: The Championship All-League First Team selection has recorded 19 goals and seven assists across the regular season and playoffs and scored the second-half equalizer when Phoenix earned a result in its first trip to Charleston this season.
Charleston Battery – No suspensions
Phoenix Rising FC – No suspensions