GAMEDAY REPORT: Miami Held as Battery Edge Toward Playoffs
MIAMI - Miami FC scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw against the Charleston Battery on Saturday night at Riccardo Silva Stadium, but was unable to take the victory its playoff hopes needed as Charleston continued its recent undefeated streak to remain well ahead in second place in Group H.
The hosts got out to a good start and appeared to take the lead in the 19th minute as a through-ball by Vincent Bezecourt slid a pass through to the left side for Janos Loebe, who delivered a low cross that was put away by Romario Williams only for the offside flag to be raised on Loebe's initial run onto the through-ball.
Sebastian Velasquez also threatened for Miami a minute later as his shot from 20 yards was parried and then gathered by Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky, and the Charleston shot-stopper had to come up with a key intervention 10 minutes before halftime as he came out to block the ball off Williams' feet in the left side of the penalty area after a good through-ball by Bezecourt.
The Battery were unable to create many chances before the halftime break with a cross from the right by Angelo Kelly that was just out of the reach of Miami goalkeeper Mark Pais and the Battery players in the penalty area the only real moment of nervousness for the hosts at the back.
The Battery took the lead on their first shot on goal early in the second half, however, as Stavros Zarokostas produced a spectacular finish from 30 yards that curled into the top-right corner of the net. Miami almost answered in the 54th minute but came up empty again as first Velasquez's shot from the top of the penalty area hit the right post, then the rebound attempt by Williams hit the crossbar before Bezecourt's effort went over.
Charleston hit the woodwork themselves in the 67th minute when a free kick from the right channel by Robbie Crawford into the left side of the penalty area was met by a powerful header from Logan Gdula that hit the crossbar and went behind for a goal kick.
Miami was rewarded for its attacking endeavor with four minutes to go, though, as it found an equalizer through Miguel Gonzalez. After Velasquez sent Mo Thiaw into the right side of the penalty area, he cut a pass back to the top of the area for Tomas Granitto that was redirected into the right corner of the net by Gonzalez to level the score.
That would prove the final chance of the match, however, as the sides shared the points and the Battery's road to the playoffs continued on.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Sebastian Velasquez, Miami FC - Velasquez was creative and efficient with his passing, hitting the post on one of his three shots and recording two key passes among 40 of 45 completed overall.
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