Preview: Kickers vs. Bethlehem Steel FC

Preview: Kickers vs. Bethlehem Steel FC

The Kickers are effectively playing for pride at this point in the season.

Kicker's Red Army and RCD Espanyol fans during last Wednesday's friendly. Photo Credit Suzanne Velasco

MATCH DETAILS

Opponent: Bethlehem Steel FC (7-9-6)
Date/Time:
 Saturday, Aug. 4th – 7 PM
Weather Forecast from Weather.com:

THREE THINGS TO KICK ABOUT

  1. Playoff Odds – Not good, in fact, terrible. According to the ugly but awesome site Sports Club Stats the Kickers currently have a 0.05% chance of making the playoffs. That’s not a typo for 5% our chances are .05%. The highpoint of our chance for making the playoffs was the first game of the year at 50% since then the highest was in May when it hung out in the upper 30%.
  2. Juice – This is the nickname of Giuseppe Gentile one of the new forwards the Kickers picked up this year. He has spent most of the season on the bench due to injuries and just recently has been getting the start. He’s exciting to watch and while he hasn’t found the back of the net yet it should happen soon.
  3. Defense – The Kickers have none. In the past six league games, they’ve given up 17 goals. The most recent games were back to back 3-0 defeats which means an impressive goal differential of -21. There are only two teams in the Eastern Division with worse goal differential Atlanta with -23 (we tied 1-1 in July) and Toronto FC with -26 (we beat 2-1 back in April).

PREDICTION

I think you all know where this is heading. The Kickers are in a complete tailspin and due to scheduling from hell are no playing their 7th game in four weeks. The phrase kicking a dog when they’re down, comes to mind. The Kickers have only managed three draws out of 20 games and a disheartening 12 losses. This Saturday they’ll pick up lucky 13 in the L column.

Bethlehem 2 – Kickers 0

My Home Games W/L prediction record to date: 45% correct

KICKERS OFFICIAL PREVIEW

The Richmond Kickers (5-12-3) return to City Stadium to battle the Bethlehem Steel FC (7-9-6) for the final time of the 2018 regular season on Saturday at 7 p.m. The party starts at 5:30pm for artVA Fest with live music by The Hit List, a collaborative art zone including lessons, performances and installations by Art on Wheels, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Studio Two Three and Wine & Design, plus RVA food trucks and over a dozen craft beers on tap. The match will be available on the Kickers Official Television Partners, WTVR CBS 6 on their 6.3 sub channel (Comcast 206, Verizon FiOS 466) and can be streamed live on ESPN+. Tickets are available now at RichmondKickers.com.

Saturday’s match will be the seventh all-time meeting between the two sides. Bethlehem holds the 3-1-2 advantage including two wins from Goodman Stadium this season. In the opening game of the regular season, Steel FC defeated the Kickers 4-1 behind a brace from Brandon Allen. Oscar Umar scored his first goal with the Kickers in the match. In the most recent meeting on May 6, Bethlehem again earned three points from home, beating the Richmond 3-1. Heviel Cordovés notched his first goal with the Kickers just minutes after he replaced an injured Giuseppe Gentile. However, Steel FC rallied with three straight goals to pick up the win.

Richmond is coming off two tough results on the road. Last Saturday the Kickers lost 3-0 to long-time rivals, the Charleston Battery. Despite the loss, the Kickers outshot the Battery 21-6 and controlled 60 percent of possession. Things didn’t get much better in the mid-week tilt against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Wednesday. The Riverhounds won 3-0 from Highmark Stadium, powered by two goals from Neco Brett. Trevor Spangenberg prevented further damage with six saves in the match.

Bethlehem gained three points last Sunday with a 4-1 result at home versus Atlanta United 2. Matt Mahoney got the scoring started with a header off a corner kick in the 16th minute. Aidan Apodaca, Faris and Brenden Aaronson all tallied their first professional goals in the victory. The four goals in the match tied a Steel FC record. Bethlehem sits in 10th place in the USL standings, but just a point outside of the eighth position.

Following Saturday’s match, the Kickers will gear up for two consecutive games on the road. Richmond will make the trip to our neighbors up north and face Toronto FC II on Sunday, August 12. Then, the Kickers will stay in Canada and battle the Ottawa Fury FC on Wednesday, August 15. Both games can be streamed on ESPN+.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Richmond: Forward Heviel Cordovés (#16) returned to action on Wednesday for the first time since going down with an injury on July 9. Cordovés has scored four goals in his first season with the Kickers. Midfielder Brandon Eaton (#25) entered as a substitute on Wednesday and passed at a 90.1 percent clip. Eaton is hoping to have even more of an impact on Saturday having only played in three games so far this season. Defender Mekeil Williams (#55) has appeared in 17 games from the center back position for the Kickers. Williams and his 59 clearances will be critical in stopping the Bethlehem attack.

Bethlehem: Defender Matthew Mahoney (#48) is the backbone of Bethlehem’s defense, playing in 1,759 minutes, the most on the team. Mahoney is also a threat off set pieces, adding two goals in 2018. Forward Santi Moar (#38) has appeared in 21 games for Bethlehem and leads the team with six assists. Moar has collected three goals so far, including one last time out against Richmond. Midfielder Adam Najem (#24) is a key playmaker for Steel FC, leading the team with 33 chances created. Najem is in his second season with Bethlehem, appearing in 14 games this year.

TABLE

TICKET DEAL

It’s artVA at City Stadium on Saturday, August 4!  The party starts at 5:30pm with live music by The Hit List, a collaborative art zone including lessons, performances and installations by Art on Wheels, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Studio Two Three and Wine & Design – PLUS – RVA food trucks and over a dozen craft beers on tap!

Then, get loud with the Red Army when your Richmond Kickers battle Bethlehem Steel FC at 7pm.

GET TICKETS

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About Richard Hayes 2892 Articles
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 and/or beer.