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Richmond Kickers launch new mobile app to engage fans as season begins

With the fan experience as a center of the club’s mission and ambition, the new App will open up new and more interactive channels.

RVAHub Staff

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The Richmond Kickers have launched a new app in partnership with FanThreeSixty and the USL, available now in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

With the fan experience as a center of the club’s mission and ambition, the new app will open up new and more interactive channels.

“Strengthening community connections, communicating our many advancements, and connecting our expanding fan base in real time to each other and with our team will greatly benefit from the new App,” said Matt Spear, President of Richmond Kickers Pro Soccer. “It will become our club’s center for announcements, ticketing, social media and more. A mobile app accelerates approachability, develops more relationships, elevates team insights, and generates 24/7 interaction.”

“As a league, we’re thrilled about the opportunity to work with the Richmond Kickers and their fans on this innovative new fan experience platform,” commented Vincent Wiskowski, the USL’s Director of Digital Projects and Emerging Technology. “We’re focused on ensuring our clubs have what they need to provide an engaging two-way connection between club and supporters, and the launch of the Kickers app represents a natural progression on this front. We’re thrilled to get going.”

Features extend beyond team announcements, roster/player insights, schedule, ticketing, merchandise, and stadium information. One example is the Matchday Fan Cam allowing fans to take photos featuring several Kickers filters to share on social media. Plus, in-game pushes will include timely updates such as starting line-ups, video highlights, game photos, and fan polls.

“We appreciate the opportunity to bring Richmond Kickers’ fans a more personalized experience through our integrated mobile app and fan engagement platform,” said Jason Houseworth, CEO, FanThreeSixty. “Together, we’re giving fans what they want, when they want it while helping the Kickers better understand their fans in order to constantly improve the fan experience.”

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Kickers Preparations for Season in Full Swing

Two months until the start of a new USL League 1 season. We have a brief look at where the Kickers stand, pictures from this past weekend’s open tryouts, and news of match that can’t be missed.

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The first kickoff of the 2020 season for our Richmond Kickers is March 28th. (Full season schedule here.) As expected after the third season of missing the playoff changes have been fast and furious. The most obvious change took place right at the end of the season when it was announced that David Bulow wouldn’t be at the helm for 2020.

In November the team announced Darren Sawatzky as their new Sporting Director and Head Coach. Darren’s background is fairly typical for a coach, moving from a player into coaching and youth development. Most recently Sawatzky was coaching USL League One side FC Tucson, which is the affiliate of USL Championship side Phoenix Rising FC. Prior to joining Tucson, Sawatzky made a name for himself in the coaching ranks within the Seattle Sounders FC system and led the Seattle Sounders U-23 USL League Two squad along with directing the Development Academy. His playing career included stints with four MLS teams.

Due to League 1 being towards the bottom of the American soccer pyramid the offseason will often be one of significant roster change. Players will look to either move on up and play at a higher level or hang up the cleats. The Kickers are no exception.

The most recent and arguably the most exciting signing is Argentinian forward Emiliano Terzaghi. Emiliano previously played for San Martin De Burzaco in Argentina. Before joining San Martin, he has played a majority of his career with Club Atlético Banfield in the Argentine ‎Primera División, including scoring the game-tying goal against Boca Juniors in the final minute of the match.

The team roster currently:

Goalkeepers (2): Akira Fitzgerald, Lee Johnston
Defenders (7): Wahab Ackwei, Ian Antley, Devante Dubose, Ivan Magalhães, Conor Shanosky, Scott Thomsen, Kyle Venter
Midfielders (10): Amass Amankona, Greg Boehme, Jonathan Bolanos, Matt Bolduc, Gianluca Cuomo, David Diosa, Victor Falck, Ryley Kraft, Mutaya Mwape, Luke Pavone
Forwards (3): Stanley Alves, Charles Boateng, Emiliano Terzaghi

Those familiar with the Kickers will recognize a good number of returning players with the most dramatic turnover in the Forwards with only Charle Boateng returning.

The most recent signing Jonathan Bolanos follows an early trend with the Kickers of picking up young hungry players straight out of college. Other players members of the youth brigade include Victor Falck and Stanley Alves. The join the other young gun Ryley Kraft who was signed mid-season last year.

That doesn’t mean all the new signings are wet behind the ears. Far from it, there have been plenty of seasoned pros ready to sign on the dotted line. – Lee Johnston, Gianluca Cuomo, Ian Antley, Kyle Venter, David Diosa, and Devante Dubose.

The roster now sits at 22 signed players. USL League 1 allows for up to 30 players. It isn’t expected for the Kickers to reach that maximum. At most expect to see another 2-3 players signed between now and the start of the season.

Pre-season matches are expected to be announced later this week. There is however one match that is already much discussed among the Red Army (the Kickers’ supporter group) faithful. The Third Annual Red Army vs Front Office game will be taking place after an inter-squad scrimmage on March 14th. For those coming wanting to watch the Red Army destroy the front office, there is a 5 dollar suggested donation. All proceeds go to RVAccess and the Red Army will be hosting a raffle with a lineup of impressive items up for grabs.

This past weekend the Kickers hosted their second round of Open Tryouts. A chance for players that might have flown under the radar to get another chance to impress.

Below are our pictures from this weekend.

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Hills & Heights

Kickers Hire FC Tucson Coach

A new Head Coach/Sporting Director has been brought on to move the Richmond Kickers forward.

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Remember a couple of days ago when I said, the Kickers won’t be making a coaching announcement until after the Championship season wrapped up? Yeah, once again I’m proven wrong. Yesterday the Kickers announced that they will be bringing on Darren Sawatzky as the new Sporting Director and Head Coach. Sawatzky brings a wealth of coaching experience. Last year he coached USL League 1 FC Tucson and prior to that he led the Seattle Sounders U-23 USL League Two squad and was Director of the Development Academy.

Sawatzky’s record for FC Tucson was not dramatically better than recently released Head Coach David Bulow’s. FC Tucson finished just above the Kickers and had one less win. Tucson’s record was 8 wins, 11 losses, and 9 draws. Their goal differential ended up at -6 and they finished the 2019 campaign with 33 points. Bulow and the Kickers had 9 wins, 14 losses, and  5 draws with a -9 goal differential and 32 points.

The Kickers will formally introduce Darren Sawatzky on Friday and below is the press release:

The Richmond Kickers are pleased to announce Darren Sawatzky as the new Sporting Director and Head Coach of the pro team ahead of the 2020 USL League One season. Sawatzky takes the reins as the eighth head coach in the club’s 27 year history.

“A clear perk is that Darren was a head coach in USL League One this season,” commented Matt Spear, Richmond Kickers President. “His deep experiences with the Seattle Sounders is huge – especially the many years he ran their top quality U-23 USL League Two and Development Academy squads. He drives players to have a competitive bite and he enhances their best qualities. It helps that he played in Major League Soccer, has been a GM and that he has a deep scouting network and relationships with MLS, USL, international and agents.”

Sawatzky joins the Kickers after a campaign with USL League One side FC Tucson, which is the affiliate of USL Championship side Phoenix Rising FC, bringing in experience with coaching in the league. Prior to joining Tucson, Sawatzky made a name for himself in the coaching ranks within the Seattle Sounders FC system. He led the Seattle Sounders U-23 USL League Two squad along with directing the Development Academy, producing talent such as current United States National Team players Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders) and DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United). The Seattle native also had a stint steering the Guam National Team, coaching former Kickers defender Alex Lee. He holds a USSF A License and a French Federation Formation license.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead the Richmond Kickers and work with the technical staff, the operations staff, and the ownership group here in Richmond,” said Sawatzky. “Watching the Red Army this past year showed me first hand what this team means to this community and I can’t wait to meet the fans here and be a part of this growing phenomenon. Being engaged with the fans and the community and building a winner that launches into each postseason is the goal. We are going to hunt trophies while playing entertaining soccer in 2020!”

Starting his professional playing career in Major League Soccer, Sawatzky was drafted by the New England Revolution in 1996, playing two seasons before moving on to the Dallas Burn in 1998. He went on to sign with the Charleston Battery later that year. Sawatzky was back in MLS the next year with the Colorado Rapids. A year later, Sawatzky found himself back in his hometown, signing with the Seattle Sounders, then a USL Championship side.

“Darren Sawatzky was a tremendous asset to Seattle Sounders Soccer Club, both as an Assistant Coach with me in the USL era, and also an integral part of launching our Academy program during our early years,” added Brian Schmetzer, Seattle Sounders FC Head Coach. “He is a very knowledgeable coach and has a good sense of what it takes to be a professional. His work ethic is very high, which translates to maximizing the strengths of each one of his players.”

The club plans to formally unveil Sawatzky at a press conference next Friday, November 15. Details of the press conference will be announced at a later date.

“We are thrilled that Darren is joining the Richmond Kickers family along with his wife Ginny and kids,” noted Rob Ukrop, Richmond Kickers Chairman. “He has a long history of developing young, talented players and preparing them for success at the top level. More importantly, he brings an incredible work rate and an unbridled enthusiasm that we believe will lead our team back to the playoffs.

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Hills & Heights

Kickers Announce Initial Roster for 2020

The off-season roster changes have begun.

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The Kickers’ season hasn’t been over for very long and already the off-season is full of news. The biggest news, of course, was that the team didn’t pick-up Head Coach David Bulow’s contract. Word from the team is that the new coach search is going well. I wouldn’t expect any announcement until the Championship League (one above the Kickers) is fully wrapped up as there might be some quality coaches looking for a job.

The second biggest news was released today. The Kickers announced 12 players that will form the core of next year’s team. There were no surprises with the possible exception of local connected Eli Lockaby and Joe Rice being left off. This doesn’t mean they won’t be in red next year it just means that as of today they’re not signed up. Arguably the biggest hole that needs to be filled for the Kickers is that of striker. The Kickers had trouble throughout the year in finding the back of the net and that definitely needs to be addressed.

Full Announcement from the Kickers:

The Richmond Kickers announced the initial updates to the roster ahead of the 2020 USL League One Season. The club has exercised the contracts of nine players from the 2019 roster. With three players currently under contract, the 2020 roster currently stands at 12 players.

“I am excited about the quality of players returning for the 2020 season,” said Interim Head Coach Mika Elovaara. “Bringing back the defensive core that helped us keep 10 clean sheets, combined with our leading scorer and assists leader makes for a strong foundation to build on. Overall, we feel that the 2020 roster is starting to shape up very nicely.”

Already on contract for the 2020 season, the Kickers will see forward Joe Gallardo, midfielder Ryley Kraft and defender Scott Thomsen return to City Stadium.

The club has exercised the options for goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald, defenders Wahab Ackwei, Ivan Magalhães, Conor Shanosky, midfielders Amass Amankona, Greg Boehme, Matt Bolduc, Mutaya Mwape and forward Charles Boateng.

More announcements will be coming soon regarding the head coach and more roster additions ahead of the 2020 season.

The current Richmond Kickers roster ahead of the 2020 USL League One season, listed by position alphabetically, is below:

  • Goalkeepers (1): Akira Fitzgerald

  • Defenders (4): Wahab Ackwei, Ivan Magalhães, Conor Shanosky, Scott Thomsen

  • Midfielders (5): Amass Amankona, Greg Boehme, Matt Bolduc, Ryley Kraft, Mutaya Mwape

  • Forwards (2): Charles Boateng, Joe Gallardo

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