#26- Jeff Causey
The 1995 Richmond Kickers squad is rated by many as the strongest in club history. The team won both the USISL Premier League (the equivalent of today’s USL League Two) and the US Open Cup that year. Backstopping that edition of the Kickers was Jeff Causey, and his efforts that season have led to him being selected as the 26th greatest player in Richmond Kickers history.
Causey starred at the University of Virginia in the early 1990s, winning three national championships as a member of Bruce Arena’s dynasty. The 6’3’’ keeper won Tournament Defensive MVP in 1991, and was named a third team All-American as a senior in 1993. After spending a season playing in Boston, Causey joined an upstart Kickers team filled with former UVA teammates and other collegiate standouts. The team thrived, and Causey played his part. During the regular season, the Kickers defense only allowed 21 goals in 18 games, the second best defensive record in the entire league. As hosts of the finals that year, the Kickers received an automatic bye to the semifinals, bypassing the divisional rounds. Causey came up big in the semifinal, shutting out San Francisco and saving multiple penalties in the shootout to help the team advance, where they would defeat divisional rival Cocoa Expos 3-1. This wouldn’t be the only time though that Causey came up large under pressure though.
The US Open Cup in 1995 was the first to include professional teams, although the Kickers were still amateur at that time. After beating fellow amateurs Fairfax Spartans (twice actually after there was a protest regarding the first encounter), Causey and the Kickers ran into pro opposition. The Atlanta Ruckus, featuring former US internationals such as John Doyle and Bruce Murray, were dispatched 2-1, and the Chicago Stingers fell 4-3 in a wild affair. That all led to the final in El Paso, where Causey came up big repeatedly. The game finished 1-1, and the Kickers played most the second half with only ten men. That meant Causey had to be at attention repeatedly, and he produced numerous saves to get the game to penalties. Once again, he came up big, saving two El Paso shots and dragging the team to the title in an oppressive Texas heat.
Causey joined DC United in 1996 at the beginning of MLS, and played 89 times for DC and New England through his retirement in 2002. Notably for Kickers fans, his son Austin joined the team as a goalkeeper for the 2021 season, the first second generation player in club history. Today, Causey is a coach in the New England Revolution academy.