Charleston Battery to host 3 MLS squads as Carolina Challenge Cup returns – Charleston Post Courier

After a two-year hiatus, the Charleston Battery’s preseason Carolina Challenge Cup exhibition tournament is back with three Major League Soccer teams due to play and a new title sponsor on board.

MLS squads Columbus Crew, Inter Miami CF and Charlotte FC will play in the Breeze Airways Carolina Challenge Cup, set for Feb. 12-19 at Patriots Point.

Breeze Airways is partnering with the Charleston International Airport to sponsor the 16th edition of the event. The round-robin tournament will total six matches, with each club playing three times. Tickets are available on SeatGeek. 

New Battery coach Casey Conor will get an early test for his squad. Charlotte FC is preparing for its first MLS season, while Inter Miami is in its third season. The Columbus Crew will participate for the seventh time and won the last edition of the Challenge Cup in 2019.

“It’s going to be great having these three MLS teams visit Charleston for preseason competition and have the tournament up and rolling again,” said Casey. “It’s going to be a key part of our preseason to showcase the club to the fans and to do it at such a high level before the regular season. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

The Carolina Challenge Cup will be Casey’s introduction to Battery fans. The 40-year-old played in the Bundesliga for the U.S. Men’s National Team and in MLS.

“It’s going to be great to be out there in front of a new fanbase, a new community of people and new fans that I’m looking forward to meet,” Casey said. “With so many new fans, all the fan groups and kids, it’ll be a great start to this new journey.”

Casey said he expects his team to compete with the MLS squads, but he’ll also use these exhibition matches to piece together a plan for the USL regular season.

“It’s still a tournament and we want to do well,” he said. “But at the same time, you know, it’s quite early and we’re gonna use these games to start to learn what we want to do and what we want it to look like. It’s a really good training exercise and competition. We’ll be at a different time period then and it’s going to be important we bring the right energy, get the minutes right so that we’re maximizing our preseason.”

The MLS clubs will already be well into their preseason regimen when they come to Mount Pleasant. 

“They’ll be longer into their preseason, by three, four weeks maybe,” Casey said. “They should be in good shape and they’re good teams. They’re going to be working on certainly different things, Columbus and Miami play differently and Charlotte we’ll see what they look like as they’re starting. I expect them to be good, they’re good teams and good competition, it’ll be a great challenge for us.

“Come out and fill the house with black and yellow. I think the excitement all around is going to be so high. We’ll be able to feel that energy from the start as we get ready for the season.”

The round-robin tournament will begin Feb. 12 with a doubleheader. Each team will compete three times over the course of the tournament, with a winner being determined based on points and/or tiebreakers.

Carolina Challenge Cup

Feb. 12

Inter Miami CF vs. Columbus Crew, 1 p.m.

Charleston Battery vs. Charlotte FC, 7 p.m.

Feb. 15

Columbus Crew vs. Charlotte FC, 5 p.m.

Inter Miami CF vs. Charleston Battery, 8 p.m.

Feb. 18

Charleston Battery vs. Columbus Crew, 8 p.m.

Feb. 19

Charlotte FC vs. Inter Miami CF, 8 p.m.