Opponent: Tampa Bay Rowdies (4-4-0)
Date/Time: Saturday, May 12th – 7 PM
Weather Forecast: 96°, Partly cloudy. Near record, high temperatures with winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.
Tailgate & Red Army Forecast: Weather will be warm but otherwise perfect. Also, this is bring your dog to the game night which is always popular. (3 Grills out of 5). Red Army should be out in force. It’s been awhile since a home game and the need for a soccer fix is strong in this crew. Also, it’s the first time the Rowdies will be in town since NASL disappeared so expect some polite discussion about that issue. (4 Smoke Bombs out of 5)
THREE THINGS TO KICK ABOUT
- Defense – Last year we had the worry about goals on repeat this year it’s defense. The Kickers got off to a great start in Bethlehem on Sunday with a goal in the first half. Things went downhill after that and before the night was over the Kickers had lost 3-1. Defensive errors abound. Richmond hasn’t had a clean sheet so far this year and conceded 13 goals. Only Ottawa has given up more with 14 conceded.
- Shots – The Kickers are at the bottom of the Eastern Division only taking 51 shots. The Red Bulls 2 at the top of the division with 151 shots taken. What’s interesting is that the Kickers are tied at the top of the division for conversion at 19%. This tells me the Kickers need to make more shots. Scientists have confirmed that you can’t score only you shoot and when they shoot the Kickers are pretty darn good.
- Passing – It’s obvious I was on the USL Team Stats page because now I want to talk about passing. There is zero good news here. Kickers are second to last in the number of passes 2,643 and second to last in accuracy at 72%. So we’re not so good at moving ball yet don’t want to take shots. This is not a good combo. For reference, the most accurate passing team is NC FC at 81%. It could be argued that this stat is useless but that would destroy my Eeyore outlook.
The Rowdies have scored 12 goals in 8 games but that number is slightly deceiving because 8 of those goals came in two games a 5-0 drubbing of basement dwelling Ottawa and a 3-1 win over NC FC. In half of their games, they were held to zero goals. The Kickers have 8 goals in 7 games with no avalanche of goals to skew the average. When we throw this all into the RVAHub computer we come up with these teams are well matched.
Kickers 1 – Rowdies 1
My Home Games W/L prediction record to date: 75% correct
KICKERS OFFICIAL PREVIEW
The Richmond Kickers (2-4-1) are set to battle the Tampa Bay Rowdies (4-4-0) at home on Saturday night. Over 20 craft beers and ciders will be on tap at City Stadium at the pet-friendly Bark & Brew Craft Beer Fest. The pre-game party starts at 5:30 p.m. with live music by Rear View Mirror, pet-centric vendors and RVA food trucks including legendary burgers from Carytown Burgers & Fries, Mediterranean-inspired kebobs and sandwiches from Sticks Kebob Shop and all-natural smoothies from Pulp Fiction. The match can be streamed online through ESPN+. Tickets are available for purchase now on RichmondKickers.com.
Tampa Bay has the 1-0-1 edge in the all-time series against Richmond with 2017 being the Rowdies’ first year in the United Soccer League. The first meeting on April 29 came on the road at Al Lang Stadium and saw the Kickers losing 1-0 with Tampa Bay’s Deshorn Brown scoring the lone goal in the 45th minute. In the second matchup, Richmond was able to pick up a point on a one-time volley from Franck Tayou in extra time to tie the game 1-1 from City Stadium. Tampa Bay’s Marcel Schäfer scored the only goal in the match for the Rowdies.
The Kickers will be looking to bounce back after a 3-1 loss to Bethlehem Steel FC on the road. Heviel Cordovés scored his first goal with Richmond in the 15th minute after he entered the wet pitch just five minutes earlier as a substitute. Austin Yearwood picked up the assist on the play after he received a give-and-go pass from Brian Shriver and found Cordovés in front of the net. Steel FC then scored three unanswered goals beginning with Matthew Real finding the back of the net in the 29th minute. Santi Moar gave Bethlehem the lead in the 68th minute, and Chris Nanco put the finishing touches on the win when his penalty wrapped up the 3-1 victory for Steel FC. Bethlehem outshot Richmond 30-7 in the match.
Tampa Bay is on the road for its third straight game against Richmond after falling at the hands of Penn FC on May 4, 3-0. The Rowdies have been shutout in all four of their losses. Penn FC’s Kyle Venter scored the first goal in the 11th minute on a header from a set piece and Tommy Heinemann followed suit with two goals in the 57th and 60th minute.
Following the match on Saturday, the Kickers will have a mid-week tilt on Wednesday, May 16 against Reading United AC as a part of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Reading United AC defeated Christos FC 5-4 in penalties after a 1-1 draw at the end of extra-time. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Kickers will return to City Stadium May 26 for Red, White and Brews presented by Impawsible Pups. The dog-friendly wine and beer fest starts at 5:30 p.m. with live music by The Hit List, pet-centric vendors, over a dozen craft beers on tap, a selection of wines, and legendary hot dogs fresh off the grill from Joey’s Hot Dogs. Then, the Kickers take the field as they take on the Charlotte Independence at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Richmond: Forward Heviel Cordovés (#16) scored his first goal with the Kickers on Sunday after coming on as a substitute against Bethlehem Steel FC. The Cuban native spent the previous five seasons with the Charleston Battery where he scored 21 goals over 86 appearances. Defender Austin Yearwood (#3) tallied his first assist of the year when he found Cordovés for the goal in the 3-1 loss to Bethlehem. This is Yearwood’s first season with the Kickers after spending the last two years with the Charlotte Independence, amassing 1,749 minutes in 2017. Midfielder Yudai Imura (#14) has been an engine on the pitch for the Kickers, starting in all seven games and collecting 591 of 630 possible minutes. The Tokyo native has added two goals on five shots so far this season.
Tampa Bay: Goalkeeper Cody Mizell (#1) has started all eight matches in front of net for the Rowdies. Mizell has recorded three clean sheets in Tampa Bay’s four wins. Forward Georgi Hristov (#10) is tied for fourth in the USL with four goals this season. Hristov has played with the Rowdies since 2013 and scored 15 league goals in 2017. Midfielder Marcel Schäfer (#4)leads Tampa Bay with 25 chances created, 16 more than the next best. Schäfer spent the past 10 seasons with German Bundesliga’s VfL Wolfsburg, setting the club record for most Bundesliga appearances by a field player.
At least the part that includes the Kickers. There are 16 teams in the Eastern Conference.
Over 20 craft beers and ciders will be on tap at City Stadium at the pet-friendly Bark & Brew Craft Beer Fest, Saturday, May 12!
The pre-game party starts at 5:30 p.m. with live music by Rear View Mirror, pet-centric vendors and RVA food trucks including legendary burgers from Carytown Burgers & Fries, Mediterranean-inspired kebobs and sandwiches from Sticks Kebob Shop and all-natural smoothies from Pulp Fiction.