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Hills & Heights

Preview: Kickers vs Atlanta United 2

The Kickers are back in town after a road trip of mixed results. This is the first time Atlanta United has been to Richmond and the Kickers hope to send them back south with a loss.

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MATCH DETAILS

Opponent: Atlanta United 2 (3-9-5)
Date/Time:
 Saturday, July 21st – 7 PM
Weather Forecast from Weather.com:

THREE THINGS TO KICK ABOUT

  1. Playoff Woes – Currently the Kickers have played three fewer games than a good number of teams and sit at 17 points. Let’s assume that Kickers get all nine points out those games in hands it would push the team up to 26 points. The Kickers at 26 points would still miss the playoffs. The chances of seeing post-season play are pretty much dust.
  2. Semi-new coach – Bulow has inherited a team. He has had dramatically mixed results with that team. Most recently a 2-1 win of Penn FC followed by a complete butt-kicking at the hands of New York Red Bulls 5-1. What does it all mean? I’m not sure yet but Bulow does seem to be pushing the team to play a more aggressive style of soccer but it doesn’t seem as though the team has the skills to be successful.
  3. Use your head – The game against the New York Red Bulls was a comedy of errors. Case in point the first goal. Just watch the first few seconds. A relatively simple clearance goes horribly and amusingly wrong.

PREDICTION

There are only two teams in the Eastern Conference lower than the Richmond Kickers and Atlanta is one of them.

My Home Games W/L prediction record to date: 50% correct

KICKERS OFFICIAL PREVIEW

The Richmond Kickers (5-10-2) welcome Atlanta United 2 (3-9-5) to City Stadium on Saturday night. It’s the Carytown Block Party, presented by Bon Secours. The party starts at 5:30 p.m. with live music by Hazeltone, Carytown restaurants and food trucks, FREE bike valet, and over a dozen craft beers and ciders on tap, before the Richmond Kickers take on Atlanta United 2 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are still available on RichmondKickers.com.

Atlanta United 2 is in its first season in the USL. Saturday will mark the first all-time meeting between the two squads. Atlanta currently sits in 15th in the USL Eastern Conference standings with Richmond just ahead in 14th place.

Richmond returns home in front of the Red Army following two games on the road. The Kickers did pick up their first road win during that time, defeating Penn FC 2-1. Scott Thomsen notched a goal from a curling free kick, which landed him on the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 plays. Later in the match, Brian Shriver found Luiz Fernando in front of the net for Fernando’s third goal in league play. David Bulow picked up his first career win with the Kickers at FNB Field. Last Friday, the New York Red Bulls II picked up three points against the Kickers, winning 5-1. Brian Shriver added a tap-in goal for Richmond’s lone goal in the match.

Atlanta is coming off a 2-1 victory over Bethlehem Steel FC at home from Coolray Field. Brandon Vazquez started the scoring when he chipped it over Bethlehem’s goalkeeper Jake McGuire in the 25th minute. Atlanta doubled its lead in the 50th minute when Oliver Shannon blasted a shot from outside the box that found the bottom-right corner of the net. Bethlehem scored a late goal, but Atlanta held on in the closing minutes to pick up its third home win of the year.

After Saturday’s game, the Kickers will play host to RCD Espanyol from City Stadium on Wednesday, July 25, presented by Big Apple Neighborhood Market. Before the match, fans will have the opportunity to see the La Liga opponent at an open training session, presented by Lalo’s Cocina, on July 23 at 7 p.m. The open training session is free with the purchase of a ticket to the match against Espanyol. Tickets are available on RichmondKickers.com.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Richmond: Forward Brian Shriver (#21) continues to be the Kickers main offensive weapon. In the past two games, Shriver has collected two goals and an assist. Shriver leads Richmond with five goals on the season. Goalkeeper Travis Worra (#48) was named to the USL Team of the Week for Week 18. The  Lancaster, PA native recorded 17 saves during both matches, including a season-high 12 saves last Friday night. Defender Mekeil Williams (#55) has appeared in 14 games and tallied 1,130 minutes for Richmond. Williams made six clearances in last Friday’s lost which led Richmond.

Atlanta: Forward Jon Gallagher (#26) is Atlanta’s go-to guy on offense. Gallagher, who finished his college career with Notre Dame in 2017, leads Atlanta with five goals. Midfielder Oliver Shannon (#29) has been a consistent fixture in Atlanta’s lineup, starting 16 of the team’s 17 games. Shannon scored his first goal of the season last game against Bethlehem. Defender AJ Cochran (#3) is integral in Atlanta’s backline as a center back. Cochran is Atlanta’s leader this season with 72 clearances and 27 interceptions.

TABLE

At least the part that includes the Kickers. There are 16 teams in the Eastern Conference. Kickers have a horrific -15 goal differential but Atlanta have a “hold my beer and watch this” -19 goal differential. Normally that would mean goals galore but Atlanta has only scored 20 times this year and Richmond has notched 19.

I predict a battle of own goals, penalties, and general tom-foolery. Neither team is in any sort of position to dominate this game so we’ll go with home-field advantage and give the Kickers the nod winning 2-1 over Atlanta.

TICKET DEAL

It’s the Carytown Block Party, presented by Bon Secours, on Saturday, July 21 at City Stadium!  The party starts at 5:30 p.m. with live music by Hazeltone, Carytown restaurants and food trucks, FREE bike valet, and over a dozen craft beers and ciders on tap, before the Richmond Kickers take on Atlanta United 2 at 7:00 p.m.

HAVE A BEER ON US!

$15 = KICKERS GAME + DRINK TICKET

Savor locally-owned restaurants and food trucks including legendary Carytown Burgers & Fries and Ginger Thai while browsing handcrafted and one-of-a-kind items on display in a mini-Carytown marketplace at City Stadium.

Get Your Ticket Here

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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.