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Charleston Battery: ‘Deep disappointment’ over move of U.S. Open Cup game vs. Atlanta United

The teams, originally scheduled to play in Charleston, will meet in Kennesaw, Ga.

Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. (Courtesy of Atlanta United)
Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. (Courtesy of Atlanta United)

ATLANTA — The Charleston Battery released a statement Wednesday evening noting their “deep disappointment over the move of a U.S. Open Cup fourth-round game against Atlanta United.

Charleston and Atlanta were scheduled to play at the Battery’s MUSC Health Stadium Tuesday ay 7:30 p.m. Match officials abandoned the game due to poor field conditions and impending rain in the area. U.S. Soccer made the decision to reschedule for 7 p.m. Thursday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga.

Fifth Third Bank Stadium is the home of Atlanta United 2 and has hosted Atlanta United U.S. Open Cup games and a Concacaf Champions League game.

“Further to the statement by U.S. Soccer announcing our fourth-round U.S. Open Cup game to now be played in Atlanta, we wanted to put on record our deep disappointment that we could not stage the game at MUSC Health Stadium last night,” the statement reads. “Our front-office staff and grounds crew worked tirelessly in order to have the match played here. The field conditions were favorable early afternoon, however, the torrential rain that Daniel Island received around 4 p.m. yesterday set those efforts back.

“We were encouraged to see both teams warming up as kick off time approached and noted the ball moving freely on most areas of the pitch. Sadly the head match official after much consultation deemed the pitch unplayable.”

Heavy rains doused Charleston in recent days, and several sandy spots littered the grass surface at MUSC Health Stadium Tuesday. About an hour before the scheduled start time, Atlanta manager Frank de Boer kicked a ball around with an assistant to get a read on the surface. Match officials and both coaching staffs engaged in lengthy conversations while walking the field.

After the abandonment, Battery president Mike Kelleher told media he expected to play the game Wednesday at the College of Charleston’s Soccer Stadium at Patriot’s Point. That was not possible because of further rain in the area. Several roads in Charleston closed due to flooding Wednesday.

“From that moment on we have been extensively exploring every option to stage the game in Charleston or within a reasonable driving distance in order for our fans to be in attendance,” the statement continues. “We would like to thank the College of Charleston, Wando High School, South Carolina United/Bantams, Greenville Triumph SC and the Savannah Sports Council, as well as the United Soccer League in all their help and assistance today.

“We believed we had found a venue to play, however, U.S. Soccer determined the best option was to play in Kennesaw and we abide by their decision. We wish our players and coaches every success in the game tomorrow evening in Kennesaw which can be viewed on ESPN Plus.”

Update: A U.S. Soccer official clarified the process regarding application to host U.S. Open Cup games. A team can name only one venue for approval on its home game application form for each round it wishes to host. Thus, U.S. Soccer cannot approve alternate venues ahead of time. The official acknowledged the Battery’s selection of an alternate venue after the game was abandoned but told Pro Soccer USA weather in the area made the point moot.

“With regard to Charleston’s case, an alternate local venue that the team considered also had playability issues after the storms that came through the area on Wednesday and Thursday, rendering it beyond consideration even if the team had been able to arrange for its use on short notice,” the official said.

Atlanta and Charleston will play behind closed doors with no fans in attendance “due to the immediate rescheduling of the event with insufficient time to secure staff and security personnel at the venue.” The Battery front office will contact fans who bought tickets for the game in Charleston regarding exchanges. Fans who bought tickets at the stadium Tuesday should contact tickets@charlestonbattery.com.

Updated June 13, 2019, at 4:45 p.m. ET with clarification and comment from U.S. Soccer.

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