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Dec. 14, 2022

Matt Bentley: A star on the Rise

Matt Bentley: A star on the Rise

With the USL League One offseason kicking off, Richmond made their attention known on how they will be approaching the 2023 season. While Emiliano Terzaghi, Akira Fitzgerald, Chandler O’Dwyer, and O’Wayne Gordon are returning, one re-signing gave Kickers fans something to be excited about: the return of Matt Bentley. Bentley signed with the Kickers ahead of the 2022 season after spending time in USL League 2 with Lionsbridge FC where he played in 16 games scoring nine goals and recording three assists.  

Having trained with the team in 2021, Bentley noted how Coach Darren Sawatzky wanted to sign him for the 2022 season; as a fan of this team, man am I glad that he did! In the 2022 season for Matt, he put up an impressive stat line. Starting in 18 matches and appearing in 26 overall, Matt recorded six goals and three assists in his debut season, highlighted by scoring on his debut with a banger against FC Tucson. Matt showed an ability to play on the wing, cutting in behind or dropping into spaces to clear pressure. The big question however for Matt is can he take the next step to be the star in the attack alongside Emiliano Terzaghi? 

Going into the 2023 season, fans will be holding Matt Bentley to high expectations, and rightfully so. In the 18 games that Bentley started, he had three goals and three assists, consistently providing a threat on the right side of Richmond’s 4-3-3. Watching Matt during the 2022 season, he has the ability to put his cleats on chalk and get in behind with pace or drop back into a midfield role and conduct play. The key thing going into this season is finding out what role will get the most out of Matt. A possible point of comparison is Jonathan Bolanos; in his second season in Richmond, he solidified a place in the starting line-up and produced five goals and one assist. Seeing that Matt will be the “Rising Star” on this team, I think he is the best replacement for Bolanos. 

One of Bentley’s key attributes to his game is his ability to interpret space. 

Matthew Bentley with a Goal vs. Charlotte Independence

For example, let’s look at his goal against Charlotte Independence which recognizes the gap forming in the middle of the pitch. Once realizing that Bolanos is cutting the ball back across the box, Bentley gets the goal side of the defender and beats him for the header. This ability for Bentley is going to be key to him taking the next step and being a constant goal threat. 

The Richmond Kickers will start the 2023 season soon enough and Matt Bentley will be a key part of us retaining the title.

Photo Cred: Richard Hayes  of RVAHub