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Victory Pick Up Point Against Charleston

May 31, 2007 - USL First Division (USL-1) - California Victory News Release

A much-improved defense and hard-working attack helped the USL-1 expansion California Victory to a 1-1 tie with the Charleston Battery Wednesday night at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

The Battery went ahead through Stephen Armstrong's well-struck shot following a clever free kick, but the Victory responded just before the break with a Yuri Morales header.

Charleston then had goal-scorer Armstrong sent off midway through the second period but despite coming close in the dying minutes, the Victory couldn't capitalize on the advantage and the two clubs will share the points.

The Victory started the game with on-loan defender Patrick Ianni, who arrived from Houston Dynamo this morning, slotting into the centerback position with Ryan Suarez. The pairing proved solid and the formidable duo, along with Chris Schwarze and Luis Aguilar, helped restore some much-needed confidence in the Victory defense.

Yuri Morales shone in an attacking midfield role, beating his defender in the 22nd minute but unable to get his cross through the congested Battery defense.

Minutes later he was at it again, this time providing a cutting pass to Josh Hansen, who dragged his shot agonizingly wide.

California thought it had a penalty claim after Hansen turned in the box and was hauled to the ground, but the referee didn't see a foul.

However, it was Charleston who broke the deadlock in the 40th minute with a crafty free kick that came straight from the training ground.

With the Victory players lined up in the wall and marking man-to-man in the penalty area, midfielder Lazo Alavanja played a short, square ball to Stephen Armstrong, who powered a low drive past Victory 'keeper Eric Reed from over 25 yards out.

But seconds before half-time, Ricardo Sanchez played in a dangerous trademark corner kick to Morales, who rose above the crowd to head home off the crossbar for his first goal of the season and the Victory's equalizer.

After the break Charleston began to find a rhythm with Lee Sandwina testing Reed in the 54th minute, but the Victory goalkeeper gathered the shot well.

And at the hour mark, a scramble in the Victory box had Alavanja and Ian Fuller fire in shots, which California somehow managed to clear.

The Battery saw red in the 75th minute after Armstrong received his second caution, and while the Victory had a couple of nervy moments toward the end of the game, it looked like the Californians would take all three points when Jose Retiz came close with a free kick.

The tie puts the Victory at 0-4-2 (12th place) and the Battery at 2-2-3, the single point lifting the Charleston to 9th place above Puerto Rico.

California has the weekend off to prepare for another meeting with first-place Vancouver Whitecaps on June 7 at Kezar Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 pm. For tickets go to

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