On June 17 the Charleston Battery ended their fourth round US Open Cup match against MLS side Orlando City in heartbreaking fashion. After overcoming a two-goal deficit in added extra time, the Battery fell to the lions 8-7 in an extended penalty kick shootout.
Moments after the match ended, reports of a real tragedy began to circulate. Nine people were massacred out of blind hatred in an actual shooting at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.
For the Battery, the disappointment at losing a soccer match suddenly paled in comparison to the grief over senseless loss of life.
Can't even think about soccer right now. What happened at Mother Emmanuel AME Church is too horrible to comprehend.
— Charleston Battery (@Chas_Battery) June 18, 2015
South Carolina Lowcountry barely had time to begin to cope with the reality of what had occurred before the Battery had to travel to play a game against the Charlotte Independence. Charleston lost 2-1 to the Carolina rivals, but the result of the match was inconsequential.
Erin Moyer, capo for Queen Anne’s Revenge, was among a large group of Battery fans that made the trip to Charleston to support the team and find an outlet for feelings that had been swelling over the previous few days.
“I told the Battery players and coach that the score didn’t matter. They gave us excuse to let out our emotions in a way they worked for us,” Moyer said. “A lot of us had a lot of emotions bottled up, and last night we were able to scream and yell and sing and get out all of it.”
The match will be memorable to Charlestonians not only for the emotions that were released, but also for the love that was received. The stadium was adorned with signs displaying support for Charleston. Charleston Independence supporters groups, took up a collection for the Mother Emmanuel victims. A moment of silence was observed in the 9th minute of the match.
Perhaps the most endearing moment of the match came after the final whistle, when Charlotte supporters and players stood with those from Charleston in a display of unity with “Charleston Strong” chants.
“But going to Charlotte and seeing their supporters welcome us to their home opener at Ramblewoods,” recalled Moyer. “They could have been gracious hosts, but focused more their own agenda and been celebrating their new stadium. Instead, they welcomed us like family. I will never forget last night. As a soccer supporter in Charleston I am filled with so much joy, but as a human being I am humbled.”
Scenes like the one in Charlotte were played out all over the USL on Saturday night, and DC United of MLS also weighed in with their support.
The USL “We Are United” tagline was never more appropriate than on Saturday. Compassion trumped contrived animosity. Supporters groups, generally devoted to lifting themselves up along with their clubs, chose the nobler path of lifting up a city in need of healing.
Moyer summed it up best when he observed, “The world is full of more love than hate! Last night proved that to me!”