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Charleston Battery’s Pirmann Named Finalist for 2023 USLC Coach of the Year, Barajas for Young Player of the Year



By: Battery Media

Charleston Battery Head Coach Ben Pirmann (above) and attacker Fidel Barajas have been named finalists for the 2023 USL Championship Awards, the league announced Wednesday. Pirmann is a finalist for Coach of the Year and Barajas for Young Player of the Year.

Pirmann, the reigning league Coach of the Year, is a finalist for the award again after leading Charleston to a historic and record-breaking 2023 campaign in his first season at the helm.

Under Pirmann’s leadership, the Battery accomplished the greatest turnaround season in USL Championship history with a season-to-season gain +34 points (25 in 2022 to 59 in 2023). Charleston also set a new club record for most wins in a USL Championship regular season (17). The squad earned 26 Team of the Week honors and four Player of the Week selections.

The 2023 league season started with a seven-game undefeated run, the Battery’s best start to a season since 2015, which proved to be a sign of what was ahead. Pirmann won Coach of the Month for March after the strong start. The club never went winless for more than three matches and only lost consecutive games once all year.

Pirmann rejuvenated the team’s ability to find success on the road, winning a league-best 29 points away from home and tied for the most road wins (eight). This is in stark contrast to the Battery’s road record of one win and eight points secured in 2022. Charleston’s resilience was on display all season, having won 16 points from losing positions (sixth-most in the league).

The Battery’s focus is currently on the USL Championship Final on Sun., Nov. 12, at Patriots Point, which Pirmann led them to for the first time since the 2012 title match.

Barajas is a finalist for Young Player of the Year after the 17-year-old’s first full season as a professional where he etched his name into the club and league record books.

The nomination comes on the heels of Barajas’ sensational breakout campaign that saw him earn All-League Second Team honors. The 17-year-old led the league in assists (11) across the regular season and playoffs. Barajas additionally scored five goals and tallied 39 chances created across 32 games (28 starts).

At 16 years, 11 months and 20 days old, Barajas became the youngest goalscorer in club history when he scored his first career professional goal on March 25 against Tampa Bay. His 11 assists matched a single-season club record that has been standing for 23 years in Temoc Suarez’s tally of 11 assists in 2000.

With a two-assist game on July 22 against Pittsburgh, Barajas became the fourth-youngest player in USL Championship history to achieve the feat. He was also the ninth-youngest player in league history to notch a two-goal game, which he did on Sept. 22 against Tulsa.

Barajas was named to the league’s Team of the Week three times in 2023 and was a nominee for March Player of the Month.

Barajas’ game garnered international recognition and he was named to The Guardian’s Next Generation 2023, which is the British newspaper’s annual report of the top 60 young soccer players across the globe.

The USL Championship will announce the winner of Coach of the Year on Nov. 15 and the winner of Young Player of the Year on Nov. 16.

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