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Hills & Heights

Kickers face New York Red Bulls 2 on Saturday

After a long road trip the Kickers are back in town and hoping/praying to turn their season around.

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Three Things to Kickabout

  1. Offense where for art thou? – This will be on our list until it’s no longer a question. Good news: Kamara scored a hat trick for the Kickers against Ottawa on Saturday. Bad News: The Kickers still managed to lose. Worst News: Kamara has been called up MLS Affiliate DCU for the fore seeable future.
  2. Streak – The last time the Kickers won a game was April 22nd. A whole month without a win, including a loss against an amateur team FC Chistos in the Open Cup.
  3. Heart – Two Kickers players reached out to their most ardent fans the Red Army to apologize for their play this season and in particular the Open Cup. The players definitely have the heart and desire to win but that simply hasn’t been enough this year. There is still time to fix the situation but time is limited.

Prediction

With Kamara I would have put our odds at about even. Without Kamara the best case scenario would be a draw. The Red Bulls were the top team last year and although they’re off to a slow start this year I don’t see the Kickers coming out on top. Richmond 0 – New York Red Bulls 2.

Official Kickers Preview

 The Richmond Kickers (2-5-4) return to City Stadium this Saturday as they host New York Red Bulls II (4-5-2) and the Kickers Fiesta, presented by Chicken Fiesta. The party starts at 5:30 p.m. with live salsa music, all-you-can-eat tacos, Modelo at 5:30 p.m. Then, the Kickers take on NYRBII at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com. This match will be available to watch live through the USL Match Center.
Richmond holds a slight advantage over NYRBII, with a record of 3-2-1. The clubs have met on two occasions at City Stadium, both of which being wins for the Kickers. The last meeting at City Stadium ended with a late stoppage time goal from Jackson Eskay, having just come into the game in the 89th minute. This would be the last loss of the season for NYBII as they went on to hoist the 2016 USL Cup. The Kickers traveled to the new home of NYRBII, MSU Soccer Park for their second match of the 2017 season, ultimately falling to the home side 0-1 after a 69th minute goal from Zeiko Lewis.

After playing three straight matches on the road in six days, the Kickers return home to City Stadium. Richmond earned a point at both Rochester on Sunday and Toronto last Wednesday, but ultimately fell at Ottawa Fury FC 3-5 last Saturday. Alhaji Kamara put together a hat trick performance assisted by Fred Owusu Sekyere and Jackson Eskay, the first by a Kickers player since 2015 followed by a penalty kick save from Matt Turner, but the Kickers were unable to stop the in-form Fury offense, allowing five goals for the first time since a 2-5 defeat on the road to the Charleston Battery August 13, 2013.

Red Bulls II hit the road following a stretch of three matches at home. After dropping matches to LA Galaxy II and Ottawa Fury FC by a goal each, they were able to take a victory over the Eastern Conference leaders Charleston Battery, ending the Battery’s seven-match unbeaten run. Right before halftime, Charleston were able to take the lead. Then second half goals from Junior Flemmings and Derrick Etienne, Jr. sealed the victory and all three points for New York. NYRBII are winless on the road this season with a record of 0-2-2.

Following Saturday’s match, the Kickers are on the road to take on long-time rivals Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium Saturday, June 10 at 7pm. This match will be available on the WTVR CBS 6 main channel after a landmark TV deal between the Kickers and WTVR CBS 6. The Kickers will be back at City Stadium June 17 to host the Tampa Bay Rowdies for the first time at City Stadium. Tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.

Players to Watch

Richmond: Midfielder Fred Owusu Sekyere (#4) is coming off a two-assist match in the Kickers 3-5 loss at Ottawa, serving in the balls to open and close an Alhaji Kamara hat trick. He has made an appearance in all 11 matches for Richmond in 2017, scoring two goals and assisting on three more. Now in his third season with the Kickers, the former VCU Ram has made over 70 appearances scoring four goals and adding 12 assists overall. Capping off his first start of the 2017 season, midfielder Jackson Eskay (#24) assisted on Kamara’s second goal at Ottawa. Signing after a successful tryout, the William & Mary product went on to make 14 appearances in 2016, with his lone goal of the season coming as a late game winner in stoppage time against New York Red Bulls II. Defender Evan Lee (#8) has made five starts in 2017 in eight matches played. The Toledo, Ohio native signed with the Kickers after a season at FC Cincinnati where he was named the club’s Most Improved Player, after making 14 appearances and contributing to eight shutouts.

New York: Leading New York in scoring for a second straight season, forward Brandon Allen (#21) has six goals in nine appearances this season. Netting a hat trick in the 2016 USL Cup Final victory, Allen scored a team high 15 goals during the 2016 USL regular season after signing a homegrown contract with the parent club in December of 2015. The son and nephew of former Kickers players Derrick and Darrell Etienne and born in Richmond, midfielder Derrick Etienne, Jr. (#7) has played in three matches with NYRBII after being loaned down from the first team this season, netting his first goal and a game winner in a 2-1 home win over the current first-place Charleston Battery in New York’s last outing. Now in his third season, the former Red Bulls academy and University of Virginia player made 24 appearances scoring on five occasions and adding six assists in 2016. Forward Zeiko Lewis (#12) was selected by the Red Bulls in the first round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft as the number 17 overall pick. He made his professional debut, and scored his first professional goal against the Kickers on April 1 of this season which would prove to be the game winner. Playing four years at Boston College, Lewis made 73 appearances scoring 18 goals and a school record 26 assists over his college career.

Ticket Deal

All you can eat tacos and two beer for $22. Hit the image to purchase.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.