Tuesday, January 8, 2013

10 years of the Carolina Challenge Cup

The 2013 Carolina Challenge Cup enters its 10th year when it begins on February 16.  And a great ten years it has been!  Over the years, the Battery have hosted seven different MLS teams, Freddy Adu scored his first professional goal at during the Cup back in 2004 and we've seen some great players on the pitch at the 'Buad.  Remarkably, in seven out of the past ten years of the tournament, the winner of the Carolina Challenge Cup has gone on to win either the MLS Cup or MLS Supporter's Shield.

Even though the USL season typically doesn't start until April, for Battery fans the Carolina Challenge Cup marks the unofficial start of the season.  It is a great chance to catch up with everyone you may not have seen in the off season and watch some great live soccer.  The grill will get fired up and a few drinks will be drunk.

Although the Battery has never won the tournament, it has finished second in both 2006 and 2011.  Not too surprising considering the boys have typically only been together for a week or so before the tournament.  This year probably won't change that statistic as the CCC will include tough competition;  the Chicago Fire, first timers Vancouver Whitecaps, and last years runner up of the MLS Cup, the Houston Dynamo.  

The MLS clubs all start their preseason training next week giving them nearly five weeks to prepare.  Houston have three players that were called up for the US Men's national team camp for the match later in January against Canada; goalkeeper Tally Hall, midfielder Brad Davis, and forward Will Bruin.

The Chicago Fire have recently added Estonian international midfielder, Joel Limpere.  The Fire's goalkeeper, Sean Johnson was also called into the US Men's January camp by US coach Klinsmen.

The Vancouver Whitecaps stars US international Jay Demerit, subject of the fabulous documentary, "Rise and Shine, The Jay Demerit Story."  If you can, find a copy and watch this great story.  It is currently on instant stream on Netflix.  Here is the trailer for the documentary.

For the Battery, there are still quite a few unknowns and hopefully we will start seeing the roster take shape shortly.  As expected, turnover is high, especially on a championship team at this level.  The win, attracts attention from everywhere.  Rumors floating around that Nicki Paterson has a January trial with New York, Jose Cuevas a trial in San Jose, Ryan Richter with one in Philadelphia.  Tyler Mueller was training with the Seattle Sounders at the end of the 2012 season.  Kyle Hoffer was offered a lucrative contract in expansion side, Tampa Bay Flames.

Colin Falvey should return as the captain of Battery and John Wilson hasn't ruled out returning in 2013.   Coach Anhaueser and club president Andrew Bell recently made a scouting trip to Jamaica and will have a second player trial here in Charleston this weekend.

Regardless the result of the tournament, the Lowcountry soccer fans will sure to see some great live matches.    Get your tickets early and look for information on the Regiment's Facebook page about tailgates and other events during the week.

An all-time table of all the Carolina Challenge Cup matches from 2003 thru 2012
1D.C. United28158341913+61.8674
2San Jose Earthquakes166501102+82.6671
3Real Salt Lake156510125+72.5002
4Houston Dynamo146402103+72.3333
5Toronto FC14124621113-21.1676
6Charleston Battery122121361531-160.5717
7Columbus Crew11631275+21.8335
8New York Red Bulls59162514-90.5568
9Wilmington Hammerheads1302114-30.3339

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