Sun, Sep


At age 35, Charleston defender Rick Titus wondered if he still had the competitive fire to play professional soccer another season. It took him less than a month to realize he did.

Titus returned to the Battery last week after spending two frustrating months with A-League teams in Edmonton and Toronto.

"The problem I had with both teams is that if you're going to play professional soccer -- play to win," Titus said. "If you're not, then you're wasting my time. There was so much stuff going on outside of the game that it made it difficult for either team to win. The management built their teams around players that didn't have any interest in winning."

Titus admitted that winning an A-League national title with the Battery a year ago probably spoiled him.

"I won a championship last year and I wanted to win another one this year," Titus said. "I'm getting up in years and I want to be around an organization that's committed to winning."

Despite the Battery's 3-11-4 record, Titus said the club's ownership group is still trying to win.

"It doesn't look like we'll make the playoffs, but this team hasn't given up," Titus said. "There's still a lot of pride on this club and everyone is still trying to turn this thing around."

Charleston coach Chris Ramsey said Titus' performance has been better than expected.

"Rick has exceeded our expectations," Ramsey said. "He has come in very fit and ready to play. You'd expect a player that has played for three different clubs in the same season to have some baggage, but Rick has come and fit like a glove."

Titus said a combination of things have conspired to hurt the Battery this season.

"A lot of it, I think, had to do with injuries, but there are so many factors that I didn't realize it until I got here," Titus said. "There have been so many injuries to key players at key times. Ted Chronopoulos hasn't really been able to play all season and Mark Watson got called up to play on the (Canadian) national team.

"I kind of understand it now that I'm here. When I looked at the standings earlier in the season I was really surprised. With all the names on this team you'd expect better results, but you can't take into account chemistry and things like that."

With Titus in the back along with Watson and Nigel Henry, Ramsey said he expects to continue to use the team's new 3-4-3 alignment.

"You have to have someone you can trust in the back to run that alignment," Ramsey said. "You've got to have an anchor in the middle and we feel like Mark Watson is that anchor. Nigel and Rick have performed very well. I think we'll continue to use it as long as we're fit."