Lewis and Charleston to resume bid for USL Championship glory
Zeiko Lewis and his Charleston Battery team-mates will resume their quest for a fifth USL Championship title when they meet Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Eastern Conference semi-final at Al Lang Stadium tomorrow.
Charleston advanced to the conference semi-final for the first time in four years after edging Charlotte Independence 2-1 in extra time at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Saturday.
Charleston led 1-0 at the break through Nicque Daley’s early strike, with Lewis, the Bermuda forward, providing a delightful assist.
Hugh Roberts grabbed a second-half equaliser for Charlotte to send the game to extra time, where Arthur Bosua came off the bench to score the winner and keep his team’s championship hopes alive.
Charleston captured their fourth USL Championship crown in 2012 and will be heavily favoured to make further inroads towards a fifth, having beaten Tampa Bay three consecutive times this season, the latter’s only defeats during the regular season.
While the expectations are high, Lewis says he and his team-mates are not taking their opponents lightly.
“I think they are good and we have been doing well against them so far,” he added. “However, it’s play-offs so anything can happen and everything that we’ve done before means nothing if we cannot win on the night.
“It is play-offs and we know that we must fight until the end of every game. It’s play-offs, so win or go home; it is that simple.”
Tampa Bay topped the group H standings at the end of the regular season to secure home-field advantage in the play-offs.
Charleston finished second, three points behind the group winners.
Lewis and team-mates were unable to play their final game of the regular season, which resulted in league officials applying the points per game model voted on by the USL Championship Board of Governors to determine final group standing and home advantage for play-off games.
Charleston would have hosted the Eastern Conference semi-final at Patriot’s Point instead had Tampa Bay been eliminated in the first round.
Tampa Bay are making an appearance in the Eastern Conference semi-final for the first time in three years after beating Birmingham Legion 4-2 in the previous round.