#28- Michael Callahan
It’s probably one of the least appreciated positions on the field by fans due to the nature of what is asked of players in that role, but the defensive midfielder can make a massive difference in the effectiveness of a team. Michael Callahan filled that role for the Richmond Kickers for six seasons, providing leadership, smooth passing, and a defensive presence that cut out attacks before they began. His constant presence and contribution during the most recent run of continued success for Kickers soccer leads him to check in at #28 on our list of Greatest Kickers of All-Time.
Michael Callahan joined the Kickers in 2011, having played collegiately at North Carolina and with the Austin Aztex of the USL previously. He immediately jumped into the starting lineup for the opener against Orlando City, and barring a brief injury midseason, never looked back. Callahan appeared over 110 times for the Kickers in regular season play, with numerous additional appearances in the Open Cup and playoffs. He gradually grew into a leadership position with the club as well, ultimately becoming club captain.
Whenever Callahan was on the field, you knew that you were going to get full effort. He was the type of player that you were always happy to have on your team, but drove the opposition teams and fans absolutely insane. He is a player that can both find a pass that will spring the attack and lay a crunching tackle that will make forwards think twice before trying to go through the middle. Simply put, he is a winner on the field. During his time with the team, the Kickers made the playoffs every season, and he was a key cog in the 2011 run to the Open Cup semifinal as well as the 2013 regular season championship. He wasn’t one to fill up the scoresheet himself, but he did open the scoring in the 2013 semifinal with a powerful header and kicked off the 2016 season with the opening goal in a home win against Harrisburg.
After his retirement at the end of the 2016 season, Callahan joined Leigh Cowlishaw’s staff, serving as an assistant coach for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He has also been extensively involved in youth coaching, working with Kickers teams while still a player and continuing to today as a coach and administrator with the Richmond United academy. Mike’s contribution and commitment to soccer in Richmond has been significant, and will surely only continue to grow.