Charleston Battery News Release
Charleston, SC. In a continued effort to provide the Charleston community with an entertaining, successful and stable professional soccer team, the Charleston Battery will play in the United Soccer Leagues Second Division (USL2) for the 2010 season. As a USL professional franchise since 1993, the Battery has been a part of Charleston’s rich history and culture for 17 years, winning national championships in 1996 and 2003.
The Charleston Battery joins a league of stable franchises in USL2 that have been a part of USL for many years – Richmond Kickers (since 1993), Charlotte Eagles (1993), Pittsburgh Riverhounds (1999), Harrisburg City Islanders (2004) and Real Maryland Monarchs (2008).
«We believe that the level of competition in USL2 will be very similar to that in USL1 and we expect to field a very exciting and competitive team. We also look forward to renewing old rivalries with Richmond and Charlotte” said Battery President Andrew Bell. “Playing in this division will also substantially reduce our travel costs as we won’t be flying all over the country”, he added.
The current United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL1) is experiencing some difficulties with a group of owners known as the Team Owners Association (TOA) looking to breakaway and form a rival league. The TOA was formed in early 2008 by owners of USL1 franchises to address ownership and management issues. At that time every USL1 team was a member of the TOA with the exception of the Charleston Battery.
“The Charleston Battery has never been a part of TOA, not because we disagreed with some of the legitimate complaints they had about how USL1 operated in the past, but because we totally disagreed with their stated vision to be a viable alternative league to Major League Soccer (MLS) and to compete with MLS on and off the field. This made absolutely no sense to us,” said Charleston Battery CEO Tony Bakker.
The TOA’s current membership includes former USL1 teams plus expansion teams. One of the teams, Vancouver will be joining MLS in 2011 and an announcement is anticipated that Montreal will be joining them in 2012.
USL1 will include at least the following teams for the 2010 season, Portland, Rochester, Puerto Rico, Austin and New York. Portland will be joining MLS in 2011.
“This breakaway is not good for soccer in the United States. Cooler heads should have prevailed with all parties sitting round a table and resolving their differences for the benefit of the sport. This did not happen and we will all have to deal with the consequences,” added Bakker.
The Battery will play a 20 game regular season schedule beginning mid-April with the season running through the end of August. The Charleston Battery will once again host its pre-season tournament the Carolina Challenge Cup featuring Major League Soccer in March and will also enter US Soccer’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (dates TBD).