Opponent: North Carolina Football Club aka NCFC (4-7-3)
Date/Time: Saturday, June 30th – 7 PM
Weather Forecast from Weather.com:
Tailgate & Red Army Forecast: This is a toss-up. It’s technically 4th of July weekend so lots of folks are hitting the road to get to family, beaches, etc. On the other hand, the weather looks good if you like living on a sun going supernova (2 Grills out of 5). If you were at the game last weekend you’ll have noticed the Red Army has a new flag that they’ve dubbed El Gigante. That gets them an extra smoke bomb but the heat and holiday will keep numbers down. (3 Smoke Bombs out of 5)
THREE THINGS TO KICK ABOUT
- New Coach – In a shocking announcement on Wednesday, Coach Cowlishaw stepped down as head coach after 19 years. His replacement David Bulow played for the Kickers and Coach Colishaw for seven seasons. Bulow transitioned to the sideline in 2014 as an assistant coach for Cowlishaw and coached the U15, U17 and U19 Richmond United teams. What does it all mean? We’ve got no idea.
- Heat – 95° and 55% humidity won’t make for a fast-paced game. Expect more of a trudge than fast end-to-end soccer.
- Giving Up – No, we’re not giving up on the season. We’re talking about the Kickers constant giving up of the lead. It happened for approximately 10,456th time this season this past Saturday. Kickers went up by 1 early in the first half only to give up a goal and settle for a tie. Defensive errors abound this year.
NCFC and the Kickers have almost identical records. The NCFC have one more draw and thus one more point in the standings. This comparison comes with a HUGE caveat. NCFC have a goal differential of 0. The Kickers have a depressing goal differential of -10. You could argue that the -10 is misleading due to a 4 goal shellacking recently up in Pennsylvania and one bad game doesn’t speak to the overall quality. That argument would be considered weak and would get you laughed out of the soccer debate academy. NCFC has 20 goals to Kickers 15 yet for reasons unknown, I think the new coach will make the difference for the Kickers.
Kickers 2 – NCFC 1
My Home Games W/L prediction record to date: 55% correct
KICKERS OFFICIAL PREVIEW
The Richmond Kickers (4-8-2) are set to host North Carolina FC (4-7-3) for the second time this season Saturday night at City Stadium. This match will be the first under new Kickers Head Coach David Bulow. The party starts at 5:30 p.m. with BBQ & Bluegrass, presented by Smohk, with live music by the Cary Street Ramblers, craft beer and BBQ. Kickoff for the match is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be featured live on the Kickers Official Television Partners WTVR CBS 6 on their 6.3 sub-channel (Comcast 206, Verizon FiOS 466) as well as streaming online on ESPN+. Tickets are available now at RichmondKickers.com.
The Kickers and North Carolina FC will meet for the second of three total meetings this season Saturday night. In the first meeting, the Kickers came out on top claiming a 2-1 victory over the visiting North Carolina FC. NCFC got on the board first as Stephen Miller connected with Daniel Rios at the top of the six yard box for the opener in the 43rd minute. Richmond leveled the score in the 77th minute behind a penalty kick from Yudai Imura. Brian Shriver set up Raul Gonzalez for the game winner in the 83rd minute to give the Kickers all three points.
Richmond comes into Saturday’s match on the heels of a 1-1 draw with the Charlotte Independence last Saturday night. Brian Shriver gave Richmond the early advantage as he put away a cross from Raul Gonzalez that took a slight deflection off a Charlotte defender just six minutes into the match. Cordell Cato brought Charlotte level in the 20th minute. Kay Voser found Cato making a run in behind the Kickers defense. Cato took a touch to get around Trevor Spangenberg and followed the ball into the net.
North Carolina FC were able to hold the defending USL Cup Champions Louisville City FC to a 2-2 draw last Saturday at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. Daniel Rios headed in a cross from Kyle Bekker in the 11th minute to take an early lead. Goals from Paco Craig and Ilija Illic gave the visitors the lead. NCFC responded in the 87th minute as Rios put away his second of the night from Tiyi Shipalane to earn a point at home.
Following a nine day break, the Kickers return to action on the road as they travel up north for two straight, first heading to Penn FC Monday, July 9. They will then travel to MSU Soccer Park to face New York Red Bulls II Friday, July 13. Both matches will be able to stream online through ESPN+, with the Penn FC match available live on the Kickers Official Television Partners, WTVR CBS 6 on their 6.3 sub-channel (Comcast 206, Verizon FiOS 466).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Richmond: Forward Brian Shriver (#21) continues to be the Kickers main offensive weapon, having a part in 10 of the Kickers 15 goals this season (4 goals, 5 assists, 1 penalty drawn). Shriver netted his fourth goal of the season last Saturday night in the 1-1 draw with the Charlotte Independence. Defender William Yomby (#2) made his first start of the season last Saturday night, marking his fifth appearance this season. The Bafoussam, Cameroon native has made 245 appearances for the Kickers since joining the club in 2009, scoring 11 goals and adding five assists and contributing to 80 shutouts. Defender Scott Thomsen (#10)returned to the Kickers starting lineup for the first time in league play since April 14 on the road against Louisville City FC. He nine appearances when he signed for the Kickers mid-season in 2016, contributing one goal and one assist on route to the 2016 USL Playoffs.
North Carolina: Forward Daniel Rios (#14) leads North Carolina FC in scoring, with eight goals this season including two in their last outing against Louisville City FC. On loan from Chivas Guadalajara, Rios is in his first season with NCFC having made 38 appearances with 17 goals on loan to Atlético Zacatepec and Coras de Tepic over the last two seasons. Midfielder Kyle Bekker (#10) comes into Saturday’s match leading NCFC with six assists this season. The Canadian international signed with the club in the off season after spending 2017 with the San Francisco Deltas (NASL). Goalkeeper Alex Tambakis (#1) played in all 14 matches for North Carolina they year after stints with Sporting Kansas City and Atlanta United. He has recorded a 1.43 GAA and has made 44 saves this season.
At least the part that includes the Kickers. There are 16 teams in the Eastern Conference.
Presented by Smohk, the party starts at 5:30pm with live bluegrass music by the Cary Street Ramblers and craft beer on tap for only $22 ($16 for Season Ticket Holders):
- Exclusive pre-game VIP party
- Traditional pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans and coleslaw by Smohk BBQ
- Two craft beers* or sodas
- Admission to the Richmond Kickers vs North Carolina FC game at 7:00 p.m.