The Kickers played a solid week of soccer with two games at home unbeaten. They played two teams, who at the time, were in a playoff spot in the top six. Their first win came against, Chattanooga Red Wolves. Richmond won on Wednesday quite comfortably, 3-0. The three goals came from center backs, Nathan Aune, Jalen Crisler, and a midfielder, Leo Baima. Ethan Bryant had two assists. This game was incredibly dominant for the Kickers. Akira Fitzgerald was never truly tested during the game. He made two saves and neither of them looked particularly difficult. This was an example of a complete game for the Kickers and it showed the fans and the league what this team is capable of. The solid defensive wall did not allow Chattanooga to sniff the goal. The stadium was buzzing after a solid win at City Stadium. Fans were eager to see the Kickers reclaim City Stadium as a fortress after a tough stretch of games. Richmond responded well to a loss at NCFC last weekend.
The Kickers second game happened Saturday as they faced, South Georgia Tormenta. This game started off slow as neither team was able to take control of the game. Tormenta would get on the score sheet first with a goal from, Barry Sharifi. However, Richmond would respond only minutes later in the 27th minute with a great combination play from Jonathan Bolanos to Stuart Ritchie. Bolanos showed the impact he makes on this team as he was able to beat defenders down the wing and create an opportunity to send the ball into the box for Ritchie to place home. Richmond would get on the scoresheet five minutes later with a goal from Jalen Crisler, his second goal of the week. Crisler put it home after he received a cross from the other center back, Nathan Aune. Unfortunately, Richmond was unable to hold onto the lead. After a long stretch of possession for Tormenta, Adrian Billhardt scored a goal in the 64th minute. Richmond would have the majority of the chances from that point on, but they were unable to capitalize.
Here are my take aways from this weeks games.
People who are not named, Emiliano Terzaghi can score goals for the Kickers. This is both encouraging and slightly disconcerting for me. I am thrilled to see our center backs scoring goals off of corners and Leo Baima scoring a screamer from outside the 18. However, Emiliano Terzaghi has proven to be the best goal scorer in League One. I would love to see the Kickers get creative in the final third and find a way to get him on the ball in the 18 where he can do what he does best, score goals. However, fans should be incredibly encouraged that other players are scoring goals. This will ultimately open up opportunities for Terzaghi to score more frequently. Teams are going to realize they cannot simply put a defender on Terzaghi and not see Richmond score. There are other guys who can score goals and there are opportunities for creativity in the final third.
My second takeaway is that Richmond must find a way to hold onto a one goal lead, better yet, they must find ways to continue scoring goals as teams open up in their efforts to level the game. Tormenta came out for the second half, determined to tie the game, they held onto the ball for the first 10 minutes of the second half and Richmond was unable to regain possession and take charge of the game early in the second half. There could be a lot of reasons for this. Richmond played a midweek game, Tormenta did not. It is worth taking into consideration that Tormenta had fresher legs going in to the weekend and Richmond had to rest some guys after the first half. I'm not going to pretend like I am an expert. I would have loved to see Richmond come out of the locker room and dominate the first 10-15 minutes of the second half, score a goal, and take the wind of out Tormenta's sails.
Finally, we are a third of the way through the season and there is no runaway team. Nobody has stepped up and dominated the league. Only four points separate 1st place and 9th place. First place in the league is up for grabs. Richmond could string together some wins and find themselves in first place. However, so could any team between 1st and 9th place. Richmond needs to simply gain points whenever possible. Of course I'd like to see Richmond win at home, but against a solid team like Tormenta, the draw is not a bad result.
A side note worth mentioning to close out this article is that City Stadium was rocking on Saturday night. The weather was fantastic, Section O was packed, it was loud, and it was a great time. I believe the attendance was right at 3200. Saturday night provided for a fantastic soccer atmosphere. If you live in the Richmond area and if you have any remote interest in soccer. Come check out the Kickers. They are your local team. When you support local soccer, you support the growth of soccer in the United States. There's great beer, great food from local food trucks, and great people at every game. I'll see you there.