The Dayton Dutch Lions FC has had a strong start to the 2013 season, winning two out of its first three games against formidable competition. Dayton hopes to keep the momentum going against the Charleston Battery, when it hosts the defending USL PRO champions at Beavercreek High School on Friday, May 3 at 7:00 PM.
The Dutch Lions are coming off a tough, but successful road trip to Florida last weekend, during which they outlasted VSI Tampa Bay 1-0 before falling to Orlando City 0-4 the next night. Splitting the games away from Dayton brought the Dutch Lions record to 2-1-0, the club’s best start since joining USL PRO in 2011.
“I’m very satisfied with the start of the season,” said Dutch Lions Head Coach Patrick Bal. “We played a man down against Pittsburgh for over an hour, then played Tampa Bay and Orlando on back-to-back nights during our longest road trip of the year. Getting six points out of those three matches is a great start.”
Charleston has strung together three straight wins after dropping the season opener on the road at Richmond. The Battery upended the previously perfect Harrisburg City Islanders on Wednesday night in the first leg of their current road trip.
Midfielders Jose Cuevas and Ben Fisk, both nursing injuries, didn’t take the bus north from South Carolina. The Battery, though, have an abundance of depth and talent at midfield. Michael Azira has been doing yeoman’s work and making the most of his opportunities, scoring three goals in the last to Battery matches. I have also been impressed by Quenton Griffith, who seems to be able to cover the length of the pitch in the blink of an eye with or without the ball at his feet.
“We can expect a physical game that will display a lot of skill. Both Dayton and Charleston have experienced professional players from around the world who love to win. This will create a great atmosphere to play in,” said Dayton forward Gibson Bardsley. “We need to play as a team, defend as a unit, and push forward as a unit. If we can push high and press them properly, we should be able to create chances that will lead to goals.”
Bal stated, “We can compete with every team in this league, but we will have to be at 100% to beat last year’s champions. I have a lot of respect for their organization, and I am looking forward to a great game. Hopefully, we can keep our unbeaten streak at home alive a little longer.”
Charleston barely edged out the Dutch Lions in the two-game series the clubs played in 2012. A goal late in stoppage time gave the Battery a 1-0 victory in Dayton. The two teams played to 0-0 draw in Charleston’s Blackbaud Stadium to finish the regular season. Given the similar starts to this season for both teams, fans at Beavercreek High School can expect to see another exciting, tightly contested match.
The keys to this game will be Charleston’s ability to recover from playing two nights ago on the road and Dayton’s ability to properly execute it’s strategy. Although it’s early in the season, no USL PRO team has been able to win a match on the road after having competed away from home earlier in the same week. When Dayton has played as a team, the team has looked good (refer to the contest against Pittsburgh and the first half against Tampa Bay). When the Dutch Lions are on different pages of the same playbook, the have been pedestrian at best.
Chad Hollingsworth is recently converted to soccer fanaticism and will do whatever he is able to grow the game in America. He has been supporting the Dutch Lions since they joined USL PRO, is season-ticket holder and president of the Oranje Legion. If you’re so inclined, follow @ChadHoll on Twitter.