Charleston, SC. Shake off the cold; it’s time to get back to soccer with the kick off of the 2013 Carolina Challenge Cup on Saturday, February 16, presented by Wild Wing Cafe Professional soccer’s premier pre-season tournament is back in Charleston for the tenth consecutive year as the Chicago Fire take on the Houston Dynamo at 5 PM in the first match of the tournament. The Charleston Battery kickoff their season against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Whitecaps first ever Challenge Cup appearance at 7:15 PM.
Three-time defending champions, DC United, will not attend leaving this year’s Challenge Cup wide open. The Chicago Fire came in second in 2012 and the Houston Dynamo won the tournament back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
Gates open at 4 PM with the first match kick off set for 5 PM; tickets are still available for Saturday’s games starting at $15 with discounts available for groups of ten or more (advance purchase only); to purchase tickets or for more information please visit www.charlestonbattery.com or call (843) 971-GOAL (4625).
Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo – 5 PM
These two Major League Soccer teams were extremely competitive in the Eastern Conference in 2012 each clinching a spot in last years MLS Cup playoffs. The Dynamo knocked Chicago out in the first game of the playoffs last year and although it’s pre-season, Chicago will no doubt be seeking revenge.
Chicago Fire – Three Players to Watch
Sean Johnson (#25): At just 23 years old, Johnson has already proven to be a force between the pipes for the Chicago Fire. 2012 was the best season of his professional career and he will definitely be looking to build on that success. Johnson played in 31 matches and earned five shutouts with a career-low, 1.24 goals against average.
Chris Rolfe (#17): Named the club’s 2012 MVP, veteran forward Chris Rolfe continued to produce for the Chicago Fire upon his return after three seasons with Danish Superliga, Aalborg BK. Rolfe led with a team eight goals last season and tallied three assists along the way. A long-time fan favorite, Rolfe will be a player to watch on the pitch this season.
Patrick Nyarko (#14): With a team leading seven assists in 2012 and the only Fire player to appear in all 34 regular season games, Patrick Nyarko is a force to be reckoned with at the attacking position. The Ghanaian native enters his sixth season with a ton of game experience and outstanding skill; he should be pivotal in helping the fire succeed.
Houston Dynamo – Three Players to Watch
Will Bruin (#12): This powerful forward has been nothing short of outstanding so far for the Houston Dynamo. Bruin led the team with 12 goals in 2012, a career high for the young St. Louis, MO product while also adding on four assists. Bruin helped the Dynamo reach the finals of last years MLS Cup where they fell short to the LA Galaxy. Look for him to do special things up top this year for the Dynamo.
Brad Davis (#11): Davis is a decorated veteran for the Dynamo; a 5-time MLS All-Star, four consecutive team MVP awards, and six USA international appearances. Davis led the team last year in assists with 12 while also netting a career high, eight goals. He is an experienced player with exceptional field IQ; Davis will certainly stretch the field for the Dynamo with quality play through the middle.
Bobby Boswell (#32): Boswell was acquired by the Dynamo in 2008 and quickly became a leader across the back. Not only does he have size and speed, he is not afraid to shoot the ball and added a pair of goals and an assist for the Dynamo in 2012.
Charleston Battery vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 7:15 PM
Although it is their first meeting since Vancouver’s move to the MLS, these two teams are no strangers. They played each other in the USL after the Battery was established in 1993 and Vancouver head coach, Martin Rennie, has visited Blackbaud stadium on numerous occasions during his tenure with the Carolina RailHawks.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have made huge strides as a club since entering the MLS in 2011 including setting an MLS record for consecutive minutes without allowing a goal, and becoming the first Canadian club to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs ever in the 2012 season.
The Charleston Battery also experienced success last season, claiming the USL Championship with a 1-0 win over the Wilmington Hammerheads to claim their fourth USL Championship.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Three Players To Watch
Camilo Sanvezzo (#7): A Brazilian native, Camilo joined the Whitecaps in 2011 after a preseason trial. He is an elusive player with exceptional skill and quick feet. In 2012 he tallied five goals and seven assists for the Whitecaps, look for him to do even more in 2013.
Jay DeMerit (#6): DeMerit played in every match for the USA international team during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He carries with him an extensive list of experience including six seasons in England with Watford FC.
Darron Mattocks (#11): Mattocks led the Whitecaps with seven goals in 2012 and he will look to improve those numbers this year. He is fast and illusive with the ability to score goals quickly and often.
Tickets and Schedule
Single day tickets (includes two games) start at just $15; for more information or to purchase tickets please call (843) 971-GOAL (4625) or visit www.charlestonbattery.com.
2013 Carolina Challenge Cup tournament schedule
Saturday, February 16
Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo, 5 PM
Charleston Battery vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 7:15 PM
Wednesday, February 20
Houston Dynamo vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 5 PM
Charleston Battery vs. Chicago Fire, 7:15 PM
Saturday, February 23
Chicago Fire vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 5 PM
Charleston Battery vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:15 PM
All games played at Blackbaud Stadium, Daniel Island, SC.