Thursday, April 25, 2013

Where are They Now...Nigel Marples

Nigel Marples
Former Battery player Nigel Marples spent three season with the Battery, and was part of the squad that
won the USL Championship in 2010.  The Canadian now plays in the Danish First Divison for HB Koge.   No Quarter caught up with Nigel to see how thing were going for him and memories of Charleston.

No Quarter:  So tell us what you have been up to since leaving Charleston?

Nigel Marples:   "After finishing up with the Battery two summers ago, I went to Chicago and trained throughout the winter and spring with a team called Bridges FC. They are an amazing organization that offers a venue with terrific coaching for college and pro players to get better in the off season. However, they also take a team to Europe every summer during which they play a number of professional teams. The purpose of the trip is to try and find players professional contracts and also to give the players the experience of what it would be like to play at the pro level. Bridges has helped so many players to go from amateur to pro, hence the name "Bridges" - bridge to the pros. So I came to Europe with them last summer and was asked to stay and tryout with HB Køge after we played against them. The timing was in my favour as Køge had just sold a defender and a few weeks later they offered me a contract! I accepted gladly!"

NQ:  How does the do the USL and Danish 1st Division differ in terms of play?

NM:  The play here is a little different. Players here have grown up spending a lot more time on the ball than I did growing up. The system may be different now in the US with youth teams training a lot more. But from my perspective the Danish first division is more technical than the USL. And the USL a bit more athletically based than the Danish leagues. I also feel the players here make decisions a touch quicker and also anticipate more accurately due to the amount of time spent training growing up. 

NQ:  What is you favorite thing about living in Denmark?

NM:  My favourite thing about living here is definitely the food! The produce and meats are so fresh and not loaded with artificial enhancers. Best of all are the bakeries though. The bread and the pastries oh boy!! Soooo GOOOOD.

NQ:  What do you miss most in Denmark?

NM:  I of course miss being around my friends and family from Canada the most. It is tough at times living in a different country and culture on my own.

NQ: What do you miss about Charleston?

NM:  Man, I miss a lot of things about Charleston - the sunshine, the amazing beaches, the great restaurants - ha I must really enjoy eating, I have a few great friends I really miss there, but above all I miss my teammate Zach Prince's dog, George! 

NQ:  So what is next for you?

NM:  Well, I believe that anything is possible and you have to live each day expecting to be surprised. That being said, my contract with Køge is up this summer and that's all I have planned at this point. I could be anywhere on this wonderful world after that!... a visit to Charleston is certainly not out of the question! 

NQ:  Anything else you would like to add?

NM: I'm sending my best wishes to the Battery and the Regiment for another successful season! I look forward to keeping tabs on the results online.  I hope you enjoy another great season in one of the most beautiful places I've had the pleasure of living in!! 

Thanks to Nigel for taking time to talk to us!  You can keep tabs on HB Koge at their website  

Where have we been?

As you may have noticed, we haven't been that great about posting things so far this season.  A couple reason really, one when I started this blog it was because there wasn't one that focused on the Battery.  Now there is the very excellent CHS Soccer, and to be honest, he  10 times better than anything I could do here and I highly encourage you to check is site out.

Second, another site, Reckless Challenge,  asked me to provide contribution on the Charleston Battery to their site.  They are focusing in on covering USL PRO and so far there is a good stable of contributors covering the league there.  There is also a great weekly podcast they put out and I have been asked to appear on that from time to time.

All that said, I haven't retired No Quarter!  I still plan on adding a few piece here and there,  mainly the well received "Where are They Now" series.  

Keep tuned and look for a piece on Former Battery defender, Nigel Cooper, now playing for HG Koge in the Danish 1st division.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Where are They Now..with Mark Watson

Mark "Watto" Watson
Most Battery fans will remember Mark "Watto" Watson as the man who was the league Defender of the Year,  players from opposing teams surely remember the hard-nose defender that lead the Battery's backline from his crunching tackles and tight marking.  Watto played close to 100 matches for the yellow and black from 2002 to 2004, including being a vital member of the 2003 Championship team, and during his return to the Battery from 2006 to 2007. 

As part of our "Where are They Now" series, No Quarter caught up with Mark Watson, the former Charleston Battery and Canadian National team player, and now assistant coach with MLS' San Jose Earthquakes for a few words.

No Quarter:  Give us a brief summary of how things have been going for you since you left Charleston?

Mark Watson:  Everything has been going well since I left Charleston.  I spent the end of the 2009 season as an assistant coach at New England and then in the off season I joined San Jose and have been there ever since.

NQ:  What are your duties with San Jose?

MW:  Assistant coach:  planning/running training sessions, scouting, video and game preparation.

NQ:  How did playing for Canada and assisting in Charleston help you in coaching with San Jose?

MW:  All of your experiences help prepare you for a career in the game.  Most of the issues you deal with on a daily basis are things I have been through any times which make you more comfortable making a decision.

NQ:  What are your fondest memories of Charleston, do you make it back much?

MW:  I really enjoyed my time in Charleston, both the city and the club were fantastic.  Unfortunately I am not able to make it back much but do keep in touch with friends there.

NQ:  With your past connection with the Battery do you ever speak professionally about Battery player with Coach Anhaueser or the Battery?

MW:  Occasionally, we have spoken a few times about players and brought Jose Cuevas in last year to train with us.

NQ:  You were known as a hard nose tough defender, does that transfer to your coaching style or are you more of a "good cop" to other coaches"bad cop"?

MW:  I think I am quite a laid back coach but probably still have a little bit in me from time to time!

NQ:  Anything you would like to add?

MW:  Yes, I would like to thank the club for having me there for five great years!

If you get a chance, watch a couple San Jose games this season and you'll be sure to see Coach Watson on the sidelines.

Thanks Watto for answering our questions and best of luck!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Carolina Challenge Cup Wraps Up

The Carolina Challenge Cup ended Saturday with the Chicago Fire winning the tournament after defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 while the Charleston Battery ended the 10th annual preseason tournament on a high note defeating the Houston Dynamo 2-1.

Overall the play was great. The weather; not so much. Rain, wind and freezing cold keep most fans away but the Battery staff did a great job in keeping the field pristine and running the show.   The fans that did come were rewarded with a total of 22 goals scored in six games.  A some fantastic goals they were too including a stellar diving-scorpion kick by Vancouver's Daigo Kobayashi that has gone viral on You Tube.

Odisnel Cooper
Fans also saw an eye opening performance by the Battery's Cuban goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper in the final match against Houston.  The Battery look very competitive against the MLS teams, showing resilience in coming from 3 goals down to nearly earn a draw with Vancouver in the opening match and only failing to take points off Chicago in Wednesday match up with a fantastic last second strike by the Fire's stole a well deserved draw from Charleston.

The consensus in the Three Lions Pub following the final kick on Saturday is this Battery team is looking good, no doubt bolstered by the fact that 14 to 15 players are returning from the last years squad.  But the returning Battery veterans look to have some competition this season.  Antiguian national team player, Quinton Griffith looked very good playing right back and right midfield and has the wheels to get up and down the flanks.  Cuban Evier Cordovez only came on as a substitute in two of the matches but showed strength up top. College of Charleston alumni, Sean Ferguson also was solid in the center of defense.
Quinton Griffith

Other players on trail that impressed, Austin Savage with his game winning goal against Houston, Jarad Van Schaik worked the wings well and Gibson Bardsley didn't look out of place against the MLS squads.

Unfortunately we were unable to see the third Cuban, Maikel Chang.  After looking very impressive in the Battery player trials, he was sidelined with a hamstring injury.  He is the type of player that has the ability to take on defenders and has very good ball control.

Next up for the Battery, a preseason match with the College of Charleston listed for Thursday at 2pm 2:30pm at Patriots Point.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The 2013 season Schedule

The much anticipated release of the 2013 Season schedule was announced Thursday.  Now we can all get on with planning our life for the next seven months as we all look to the dates to see when we can squeeze in vacations, plan road trips and finally set that wedding date!

This season we get 14 home matches and 14 away matches for a 28 match season, four more matches than last season.  This season we get eight Saturday matches, three Friday matches a pair of Wednesday matches and one Thursday match.  That is two more Saturday matches than last season. And only one back to back match, over all it looks to be a pretty favorable schedule.

Also this season we play every team twice, once at home and once.  The exception is Antigua.  They will play their entire schedule on the road.  While not sure what the reasoning is behind this it will definitively be be a tiresome schedule for the Barracudas.

For the traveling fans, road trips to Charlotte and Wilmington this season will mean potentially missing a day of work as the Charlotte away match is on Tuesday and the Wilmington match is on a Friday night.

The away date in Richmond is on a Saturday but the six hour trip each way will likely require a hotel stay somewhere.  And with the addition of the expansion team in Tampa, the Battery will play Orlando on a Thursday night followed by a short trip down Interstate 4 to Tampa for a match up against them on a Saturday night which would be a great little trip to Florida.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds new stadium

Another trip worth checking out is one to Pittsburgh on Saturday June 11.  If you haven't been following the Riverhounds this off season,  they have built a nice looking stadium that overlooks downtown Pittsburgh and would be great to see a match there during its inaugural year.

Under the new MLS/USL agreement the Battery  will play two matches against Houston Dynamo's reserve squad this year.  Houston has a great new stadium, BBVA Compass Stadium, and with direct flights to Houston from Charleston starting around $300 RT, might make a good trip as well.

Houston Dynamo's BBVA Compass Stadium
Which match ups are you most excited by?  And which potential road trips are you likely to make?  Let us know!

Charleston Battery 2013 USL PRO Schedule 
Charleston @ Richmond Saturday, April 13 7:00PM 
Charleston vs. Antigua Saturday, April 20 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. Pittsburgh Saturday, April 27 7:30PM 
Charleston @ Harrisburg Wednesday, May 01 7:00PM
Charleston @ Dayton Friday, May 03 7:00PM 
Charleston vs. Wilmington Saturday, May 11 7:30PM 
Charleston @ Charlotte Tuesday, May 14 7:00PM 
Charleston @ Houston Sunday, May 19 TBD 
Charleston vs. Rochester Saturday, May 25 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. Harrisburg Friday, May 31 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. Charlotte Wednesday, June 05 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. Houston Saturday, June 08 7:30PM 
Charleston @ Pittsburgh Saturday, June 15 7:00PM 
Charleston @ Rochester Sunday, June 16 4:05PM 
Charleston vs. Tampa Saturday, June 22 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. Orlando Friday, July 05 7:30PM 
Charleston @ Orlando Thursday, July 11 7:30PM 
Charleston @ Tampa Saturday, July 13 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. Dayton Friday, July 19 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. Phoenix Wednesday, July 24 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. LA Saturday, July 27 7:30PM 
Charleston @ Wilmington Friday, August 02 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. Richmond Saturday, August 3 7:30PM 
Charleston @ LA Thursday, August 08 7:30PM 
Charleston @ Phoenix Saturday, August 10 7:30PM 
Charleston vs. Antigua Thursday, August 15 7:30PM 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

USL and MLS reach landmark agreement

It has been rumored for months but yesterday it became a reality.

USL and MLS reached an multi-year agreement that looks to beneficial to all parties involved.

Over the years MLS has been searching for a way to help develop their youth players and this decision could be the beginning of a better way to improve player development in the US.

Basically the plan looks like this.

MLS teams have their choice for four paths.

  1. Affiliate with a USL Pro club.  This would include sending a minimum of four MLS players on season long loans to their affiliated club.  From a report in Rochester, it looks like USL coach will have a decision in which players would come on loan.  MLS clubs that choose this route will not enter a team into the MLS reserve league.  It appears there will be at least four affiliations for the 2013 season.  Sporting KC with Orlando, Rochester with New England Revolution, Richmond with DC United and Harrisburg with Philadelphia Union.
  2. MLS clubs can continue with their current reserve league but will play a home and home series with a paired USL club.  This increases the amount of games a MLS reserve squad would have in and would be against a competitive foe. The majority of MLS teams have opted for this route for the first season.
  3. A third route would be for a MLS team to field their own USL Pro side.  A choice which would benefit both USL and MLS the most in my opinion but would also be the most difficult both logistically and financially for MLS teams.   None of the MLS teams have gone this route but several already have PDL or NPSL squads that they might look at moving up to USL Pro in the future.
  4. Forgo any affiliation or reserve league play.  It is rumored that Chivas USA may have chosen this route.
MLS team that choose to not be affiliated can still loan players with lower division teams and may enter into agreements in the future.  It was also mentioned that future announcements regarding mutual commercial and marketing would be coming over the next couple months.

So How does this effect Battery fans?  We ask Andrew Bell, Charleston Battery president.

No Quarter:  How does the Battery feel about the announcement?

Andrew Bell: "We are very excited about the new partnership, its something that we've been a long a vocal advocate for.  The Battery is fully supportive of the concept and we will do everything we can to ensure its long term success."

NQ:  Is the Battery working on an affiliation with a MLS club?

AB: "We are open to an affiliation but we need tom make sure it makes sense for both sides.  This season we are very much looking forward to playing a home and away against an MLS reserve side."

NQ:  From other reports it seems like this will be an evolving process, what do you see happening in the next year or two?

AB:  "I'd have to defer to the USL office for an specifics on that but I'm personally hopeful that this is just a small step in a growing partnership.  We all need to work together to help grow our sport and develop players."

NQ"  Some have said that this will cause clubs to loose their individual identity,  how will the Battery maintain its identity?

AB:  "I don't think there is any danger of that.  The Battery is entering its 21st season this year and I think our brand, history, coaching staff, fans and all the intangibles that make up a club will endure for a long, long time."

Thanks to Andrew Bell for taking the time to discuss the matter with us.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

28 Days...

That is how many days left until the Battery take back to the pitch at Blackbaud Stadium and the start of the 10th Carolina Challenge Cup.   If you haven't seen the photos of the field from the Battery's twitter or Facebook feed, it is looking fantastic.  Even the practice pitch looks like a putting green.

Last week the Battery finished up the second of two open trials.  I had a chance to stop by for the Friday session and noticed a few players that likely will be given a shot at the Battery invite trials happening the week prior to the Carolina Challenge Cup. Three players of note were recent Cuban defectors, Maikel Chang, Heviel Cordoves and goalkeeper, Odisnel Cooper.  While I didn't see much of Cooper, both Chang and Cordoves looked good.   The three Cubans walked out of their hotel in Canada the day before a World Cup Qualifier between Cuba and Canada in late October before finding their way to the United States and seem to have impressed the Battery.

The next trial is an invite trial which will take place the weekend of February 9.  While the list isn't out for this trial, it is typically made up of a few players from each of the Battery's past trials and scouting trips plus a few other players with some experience playing at the professional level. Several of those players will be asked to stay for the Carolina Challenge Cup and will join the Battery players signed for 2013.

That 2013 Battery roster is still kind of in limbo right now. While nothing is confirmed yet it looks like Colin Falvey is returning along with Mark Wiltse and Taylor Mueller.  Battery's perinatal Johnny Wilson has been helping with the trials so he looks to be ready for 2013.  Nicki Paterson is rumored to be returning but does have a trial with the New York Red Bulls. Jose Cuevas who had a trial in San Jose after the USL season ended is thought to currently be on trial in Seattle.  No word on the two African players, Michael Azira and Amadou Sanyang but both would be welcomed back from the quality of their play last season.

Gone for sure are Kyle Hoffer and Tony Donatelli, both to new USL Pro squad VSI Tampa Bay Flames.

Besides the new team in Tampa Bay,  Phoenix Wolves will join the LA Blues out west.  Both have presented some nice stadium options.  Phoenix will expand Arizona States soccer stadium while Tampa has audacious plans to build a phased stadium that will begin with a 6-8,000 modular seat stadium.   They have announce plans to start play in 2013 but with less than 90 days until the season begins, they are pressed for time to make that happen.

Those two expansion teams will bring the league up to 13 teams, with all 11 teams from last year returning for 2013 with Pittsburgh Riverhounds lead by former Battery players Jason Kutney and Justin Evans, will open their new 3000+ stadium that looks to be a gem.

Still no official word on the potential MLS/USL partnership but there was an encouraging tweet from the usually accurate IMSoccer that said sources are telling him a deal was reached and should be announce shortly.

The Battery front office have been busy this off-season, hosting several events at Blackbaud.    A new Charleston Battery website is set to be launched in early February and the Battery will also introduce a new kit and a new sponsor.

Expect more news and information to begin to leak out as the season fast approaches.  See you at the 'Baud for the Carolina Challenge Cup.