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United States’ oldest tournament returns to Richmond Wednesday

Richmond Kickers will face Penn FC in Round 3 of the Lamar S. Hunt Open Cup

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Professional soccer has a long history of ups and downs in the United States. There has been one constant in the U.S., the Open Cup. The first Open Cup competition was held in 1914 and has been held every year since. This makes the tournament not only the oldest cup competition for soccer in the United States but also the country’s oldest annual tournament for team sports.

In its current form, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, as it’s formally called, is a single-elimination tournament comprised of 80 teams. What makes this tournament unique is that teams come from all levels. Tune into the Open Cup and you might find an MLS team with a budget exceeding $22 million facing a team that plays on the similar field as your son/daughter and whose star striker bears a striking resemblance to your bartender at Sticky Rice.

All the teams that started in the Open Cup.

Amateur teams are usually weeded out in the early rounds but nearly every year one or two make a push deep into the tournament. Last year Christo’s FC was the Cinderella of the Open Cup Ball. Christo’s FC defeated the Richmond Kickers along the way much to the embarrassment of the local supporters.

As you’d expect the MLS has dominated this tournament in recent history. No lower division team has won since the Rochester Rhinos in 1999. The Rhinos managed to beat four MLS teams to claim the prize. The Charleston Battery managed to get into the final in 2008 but lost to semi-local D.C. United.

The Richmond Kickers own a bit of Open Cup history as well. In 1995, a year before MLS formed, the Kickers an amateur team went on an amazing run and captured the Open Cup. They are the last amateur team to achieve that feat.

USSoccer.com has an excellent article on the run titled OPEN CUP REWIND: ’95 KICKERS – ‘LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE’. If you’re at all familiar with MLS and/or the current Kickers team you’ll recognize a few names including current Kickers’ coach Leigh Cowlishaw. Even if you don’t follow soccer you’ll recognize the last name of striker Rob Ukrop.

Chemistry was fostered off the field as well as on. After all, these were young men in the prime of their lives. They were out of school and away from home for the first time. “We all lived together in the same apartment complex – the whole team – and we had a lot of fun that year,” said Causey, a future MLS goalkeeper who was given the nickname Tex by Bruce Arena during his UVA days. “We all knew each other, either as teammates or opponents,” added Williams. “We had a lot of fun hanging around the pool in the complex where we all lived.”

Ukrop doesn’t remember the nightlife getting in the way of their play. “We’d go to dinner, go to the bars, go dancing,” he said. “But when it was time to play, we were all business.”

On the field, the 1995 Kickers were indomitable. They won the USISL Premier League (today’s Premier Development League – PDL), edging Florida-based Cocoa Expos in the League Final. As momentum began to pick up, talk of a ‘Double’ began to seep into training and among the boys out by the pool. “We knew it would be a challenge to win two titles,” Williams said. “But we wanted to win trophies and everything that was out there to be had.” And those Kickers also had a little chip on their shoulder, according to Causey: “We knew we’d be mixing in with the pro players from the A-League in the Open Cup and we were excited to take on the big guys. We wanted to show them up.”

This is what makes the Open Cup worthy of your attention. It’s a tournament in which a group of guys hanging out at the pool can take on the pros and win. In the 2nd Round of a total of seven amateur teams pulled off upsets. Only one of those upsets was on the East Coast where Ocean City defeated Charlotte Independence 3-1. There are still a few East Coast amateur teams in the mix but they haven’t face any pro opponents yet.

It’s also worth noting that the Kickers made another strong run in 2011 and knocked off two MLS sides, the Columbus Crew in the third round, and Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinals. Both those games were on the road which makes the wins all the more impressive.

On Wednesday the Richmond Kickers which play in the United Soccer League (USL) will take on USL rival Penn FC. The Kickers got to this point by barely beating amateur team Reading United in penalty kicks. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com

A more complete preview will be up on the site tomorrow.

If you’d like to learn more about the US Open Cup and follow along in future rounds head to the US Soccer website.

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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.

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Kickers

Richmond Kickers Terzaghi and Fitzgerald Honored by USL1

Although the Kickers were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round there was still plenty to celebrate.

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Reigning 2020 USL League One Most Valuable Player and reigning back-to-back Golden Boot winner Emiliano Terzaghi was named USL League One Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season, the league announced Thursday.

“Ganar este premio tan importante por segunda vez consecutiva significa un gran orgullo para mi de gran importancia porque volver a conseguirlo siempre es más difícil que hacerlo por primera vez.”

“Winning this important award for the second time in a row means a lot to me,” Terzaghi said. “It was of great importance because getting it again is always more difficult than doing it for the first time.”

“Agradezco a mis compañeros de equipo a todo el staff y la gente que trabaja con nosotros día a día que sin ellos no ubiese sido posible todo este proceso de mi crecimiento.”

I thank my teammates and all the staff and people who work with us every day because without them this whole process of my growth as a member of the Kickers would not have been possible.”

After earning league MVP, Golden Boot, and All-League First Team honors during the truncated 2020 season, Terzaghi continued his ascendancy as the face of USL League One as he scored 18 goals in 27 appearances — averaging a goal every 128.4 minutes — setting the league’s new single-season goal scoring record. Furthermore, Terzaghi now sits as the league’s all-time leading goal scorer with 28 goals over the last two seasons.

“To follow up the 2020 Golden Boot with an 18 goal 2021 Golden Boot season is an incredible accomplishment,” Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky said. “He was a known commodity going into this season so it makes it even more difficult.

“Emi’s presence in our club is much greater than the statistics he has accumulated over the past two seasons. He is a humble professional who comes to work each day ready to help the team in any way needed. There are some very good players in USL League One, having Emi in our culture here day to day showcases for all of us how valuable he is for our club.”

Terzaghi shared the responsibility of acting as club co-captain alongside Ivan Magalhães during the 2021 season, and Terzaghi led by example who specialized in changing the outcomes of matches as he scored the game-winning goal in six matches as well as assisting Jonathan Bolanos’ game winner against North Texas on July 3.

The Argentine talisman’s ability to come up clutch was on full display in the waning weeks of the season as the Kickers went on a five-match winning streak to guarantee its first appearance in the postseason since 2016 with Terzaghi scoring the game winner in four of the matches and a brace in the regular-season home finale against Forward Madison.

The consistency displayed by Terzaghi throughout the season cannot be overstated as the forward picked up Player of the Month honors during the months of July and October. Terzaghi was a fixture in the league’s weekly honors earning Cleer Audio Player of the Week in week 13 as well as recognition in the Cleer Audio Team of the Week during weeks 5, 17, 19, 25, 26, 28, and 30.

El rey’s heroics on the pitch saw him earn his second-straight Red Army Supporters’ MVP that was awarded to him following the conclusion of the regular-season home finale.

“¡Soy muy agradecido y trabajo muy duro para representar a nuestra comunidad al club para llevarlo a lo más alto! ¡También devolverle a los fans todo el cariño que nos dan siempre ! ellos son un parte muy especial para mi.”

“I am very grateful and I work very hard to represent our community and this club to take it to the top! To give back to the fans after all the love they always give us, they are a very special part of me!” – Richmond Kickers Announcment

Richmond Kickers’ starting goalkeeper and goalkeeping coach, Akira Fitzgerald was named the USL League One Goalkeeper of the Year for his record-breaking efforts during the 2021 season, the league announced Tuesday.

“It’s a great honor to win this award because there are many top goalkeepers in this league who had fantastic seasons and will go on and have great careers,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have played this long and to win this award at this stage of my career is a great accomplishment.

“I feel more motivated than ever to continue to push on and achieve more for the club and myself.”

The 34-year-old veteran enjoyed a career year as he set the new single-season league record of 89 saves. Furthermore, Fitzgerald recorded 10 clean sheets that led all goalkeepers as the Kickers finished tied for second in total clean sheets behind first-place Greenville Triumph SC.

Fitzgerald would also record a 72.1 percent save percentage ranking ahead of 2021 Golden Glove winner Rashid Nuhu of Union Omaha.

“Being able to lead the league in clean sheets was an incredible collective effort that we as a group can take great pride in,” Fitzgerald said. “Every player played a role in making sure we were defensively solid each week, and I have to give an incredible amount of love to my backline who always put everything they had into each match.

He continued, “I think it also showed how strong our goalkeeping department was to set a single-season record in saves while also helping the team into the playoffs. I want to thank Austin Aviza and Austin Causey for their incredible professionalism and hard work throughout the year because without them it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve these kinds of numbers and success for the club.”

Fitzgerald previously was named to the USL League One All-League First Team earlier in November 2021 before being named as a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year. He was nominated alongside Omaha’s Nuhu and New England Revolution II’s Joe Rice — a former Richmond Kicker and understudy to Fitzgerald in 2019.

“It’s a great accomplishment for Akira after a very good season,” Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky said. “You need your goalkeeper to keep you in games and Akira has done that consistently over the past two seasons.

“He is in charge of our goalkeeping department here in Richmond and we look forward to him between the pipes and running training in 2022 and beyond. I cannot think of a human being with more class, and I am happy he is being recognized.” – Richmond Kickers Announcement

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Photos and Game Summary: Kickers Win In Dramatic Fashion Move Up To Fourth

In a game that saw 5 goals the Kickers prevailed due to the Golden Boot of Emiliano Terzaghi.

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Official Kickers Game Summary

The Richmond Kickers (11-8-7) prevailed in dramatic fashion in the Red’s final regular-season home match of the year, beating Forward Madison (6-8-11) in the final matchup of the series, winning the Henny Derby Cup and extending their winning streak to five matches.

The final matchup in the 2021 Henny Derby series was underway and the crowd was roaring at Richmond’s final regular-season home match which was the attendance record-setting match of the season.

Both teams spent the first five minutes feeling each other out, but in the eighth minute of the match, Josiah Trimmingham received a ball with his back to the goal in the corner of the box, made a quick move to turn around and fired off a shot into the far post to bring Forward Madison up 1-0 for an early lead against the run of play.

In the 15th minute, Richmond surged up the left flank, Jonathan Bolanos leading the attack with an incisive run crossed the ball into the far post for Matt Bolduc who leaped into the air to redirect a header across the goal but Phil Breno collected the attempted shot.

Several minutes later, Nil Vinyals placed a corner kick into Emiliano Terzaghi at the near post which he fired towards the goal but the attempt went just wide of the post. At the 32-minute mark, Vinyals delivered another brilliant corner kick into the far post. Chris Cole came bursting into the heart of the box and jumped head and shoulders over his markers to power a thunderous header into the back of the net, earning his first professional-career goal and leveling the scoreline for the Reds, 1-1.

Shortly after, Richmond was on the front foot again with Bolanos sprinting through the Madison half. Bolanos took his time and took a shot on goal, Breno deflected the shot towards Terzaghi who was pouncing on the ball. Terzaghi managed to make contact with the ball and it floated into the air over Breno and eventually hit the back of the net to move Richmond into the lead, 2-1 going into the second half.

Soon after returning to the pitch, Forward Madison was in dangerous territory approaching the Richmond goal. A well-placed cross into the box brought Akira Fitzgerald into action and an unfortunate deflection off of Esteban Calvo redirected the ball into the back of the net, once again leveling the scoreline, 2-2.

After 30 minutes of intense back-and-forth between both teams, Forward Madison earned a free kick just outside of the Richmond box. The dead-ball kick sailed just under the crossbar, nearly beating Fitzgerald, but the veteran keeper got a glove on it to keep the Reds level.

A few minutes later, Richmond answered back with their own threatening attack. Juan Pablo Monticelli, who came into the match off the bench chased down a long-through ball far up the left wing and sent a low-driven cross into the Forward Madison box. The ball crossed through the box and reached Terzaghi who put his laces through a shot that slammed into the back of the net at the far post.

With Terzaghi’s second goal, he broke the USL League One single-season goal-scoring record (16), previously set by North Texas SC’s Ronaldo Damus in 2019. Terzaghi notched his 17th goal of the season and bagged the Kickers fifth-straight win to bring home the Henny Derby.

After Richmond’s late-season rally and five-match winning streak, the Reds are back on the road to Nebraska to take on the league leaders, Union Omaha, as they rally in the final leg of the 2021 season. Richmond will be at Werner Park, Saturday, October 23. Kickoff for the match is set for 7 p.m. EST.

Stay up to date with the latest news from the Kickers at RichmondKickers.com and on the official team app.

 

BOX SCORE

First Half Second Half Final
Richmond 2 1 3
Forward Madison 1 1 2

LINEUPS

Richmond: Akira Fitzgerald, Chris Cole (55’ – Juan Pablo Monticelli), Ivan Magalhães, Jalen Crisler, Esteban Calvo, Zaca Moran, Ethan Bryant (55’ – Victor Falck), Nil Vinyals (90’ – Nathan Aune, Matt Bolduc (76’ – Luke Pavone), Emiliano Terzaghi, Jonathan Bolanos (76’ – Oalex Anderson)

Unused Substitutes: Austin Causey, Hernan Gonzalez

Forward Madison: Phil Breno, Eric Leonard, Cyrus Rad, Connor Tobin, Aaron Molloy, Josiah Trimmingham, Christian Enriquez (75’ – Audi Jepson), Derek Gebhard (85’ – Carlos Gómez), Justin Sukow, Christian Díaz (46’ – Tyler Allen), R. Sierakowski

Unused Substitutes: Noah Fuson, Jake Keegan, Aidan Hogan, Jesús Pérez

STATISTICS
Shots Saves Fouls Corners
Richmond 12 3 15 5
Forward Madison 15 3 14 3

SCORING SUMMARY

8’

32’

45’

47’

88’

MAD

RIC

RIC

MAD

RIC

Trimmingham

Cole

Terzaghi

Calvo (OG)

Terzaghi

CAUTIONS SUMMARY

4’

14’

25’

42’

44’

45+4’

74’

80’

RIC

MAD

MAD

MAD

MAD

RIC

RIC

MAD

Cole

Sukow

Leonard

Rad

Tobin

Moran

Monticelli

Jepson

EJECTIONS SUMMARY

None

MATCH INFORMATION

Referee: John Matto
Assistant Referee: Jeffrey Skinker, William Aten
Fourth Official: Andrew Charron
Attendance: 3,212
Weather: Windy, 72 ºF

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Preview: Playoffs on the Line as Kickers Face Familiar Foe

Kickers are on a four-game winning streak and face Forward Madison yet again. A win and the Kickers are in the playoffs.

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Opponent: Madison Forward FC (6-7-11)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 16th, 6:30 PM
Last Result: Kickers 2 – North Texas 1

Weather Forecast From WeatherBug.com

Three Things to Kick About

  1. Playoffs – For weeks I’ve been saying that if we make the playoffs there is little chance of a home game. My tune is changing. A home playoff game is a real possibility. A win gets us in to the playoffs and another win or two and some other results get us a home game.
  2. Unexpected Heroes – On Sunday the Kickers went down a goal and all eyes turned to golden boot leader Tergazhi. Instead it was two players that got their first USL1 goals of the season that came up big. In the 80th minute Argentinian Moran found himself with space to shoot and perfectly placed a shot into the upper 90 with his first touch, beating Richard Sanchez for a screamer of a goal, and earning his first goal of the season to bring the scoreline level at 1-1. The Kickers weren’t done. . Late into stoppage time, 95 minutes into the match, Vinyals delivered a set piece directly into the North Texas six-yard box. Ivan Magalhães muscled his way through the North Texas box, beat his marker and sent a thunderous header into the back of the net giving Richmond another dramatic, go-ahead goal.
  3. Get to the Game – Attendance has been a bit of a roller coaster for the Kicker this year. This Saturday they need every supporter of local soccer in the stands to help push them over the line. It’s been 7 years since the Kickers hosted a playoff game, let’s do this folks.
  4.  Bonus: Forward Madison – This team is the USL1 golden child. They’ve got a marketing team/budget that is second to none. They’ve tapped into a large fan base. This fawning hasn’t resulted in a winning team. The Flamingos as they’re called are having a bad run and are ripe for a Kickers win.

Prediction

Momentum, we’ve got. Injuries aren’t a major concern right now, (knock on wood). Forward Madison had to play a weeknight game before heading down to Richmond. This game is lining up in the Kickers favor.

Kickers 1 – Forward Madison 0.

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