RICHMOND KICKERS (0-1-1, 1 point, 8th) 0
SOUTH GEORGIA TORMENTA FC (2-0-1, 7 points, 1st) 0
Attendance: 2,853 (Last Week Attendance: 5,936
The Kickers hoped to rebound after a 3-2 home opener loss. The bounced half-way back earning a draw. The weather was perfect on Saturday for and although the Kicker played much better they could only manage a tie against a team that had played three games in eight days.
During the home opener, the Kickers defense seemed confused and had a hard time dealing with Lansing’s high pressure. Tormenta didn’t have the same degree of pressure and the Kickers with few exceptions kept them in check. The Kickers continue to play possession-style soccer and a couple of times it resulted in scary moments in back. Notably absent from the defense was veteran Conor Shanosky who left the previous game in the 63rd minute.
Where the Kickers fell short was in an inability to get shots on goal. Only one shot during the 90 minutes was directed at the goal. The other shots were either directed into the party deck behind the goal or Chesterfield county. The opportunities for goals were there but the quality finishing was not.
Next up for the Kickers is a road trip to the only other team they’ve played the Lansing Ignite, in Lansing Michigan.
All photos by Suzanne Velasco.
The Richmond Kickers (0-1-1) picked up their first clean sheet of the season, battling to a scoreless draw with South Georgia Tormenta FC (2-0-1) Saturday night at City Stadium.
The Kickers had a chance in the sixth minute to try and get on the scoresheet through the Captain, Maxi Rodriguez. Matt Bolduc was able to get into the Tormenta box on the left side. Unable to get a cross in, Bolduc played the ball to hist left for Rodriguez in space. With time, Rodriguez curled in a cross towards the back post, nearly connecting with Ivan Magalhães making a run.
Matt Bolduc had an opportunity in the 15th minute to go for the opener. Charles Boateng broke up an attempted clearance by Tormenta and quickly got the ball just behind him to Daniel Jackson. Jackson fed the ball through to Bolduc cutting inside, as he chipped his shot over the goal.
A pair of chances came for Charles Boateng in the 22nd minute. Wahab Ackwei from the Richmond end of the field found Boateng making a run up the right side and played the ball over the top. Boateng was able to get on the ball with pressure from both Ricardo Gomez and Lars Eckenrode, he launched a shot across the face of goal and just wide. After the ensuing goal kick, the Kickers quickly picked up possession and Rodriguez played the ball through for Boateng making a run up the left side. This time Boateng sent his shot high.
Wahab Ackwei had a sent his header wide at the back post in the 31st minute. The Kickers won a free kick on the right side, just inside the Tormenta end of the field. Scott Thomsen sent the ball over the top, connecting with Ackwei. He did not get the touch he wanted on his header and sent his shot just wide.
Akira Fitzgerald saw his first real action in the 50th minute. Marco Micaletto picked up possession in the center circle as Amass Amankona went down with an injury. He found some space up the left flank and went for a shot on target at the top of the Kickers box, forcing Fitzgerald to make the save to his left.
A run up the right side nearly ended with a goal from Eli Lockaby in the 56th minute. A quick give-and-go with Joe Gallardo helped Lockaby get in behind the Tormenta back line. Lockaby looked to sneak the ball in the near post, only getting denied from the Tormenta keeper Pablo Jara.
Akira Fitzgerald picked up his and the club’s first shutout of the season behind three saves for the veteran keeper.
Richmond will hit the road for the first time this season, making the trip to Cooley Law School Stadium to take on Lansing Ignite FC Saturday, April 13. Kickoff for that match is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be available live on WTVR CBS 6.3 (Comcast 206, Verizon FiOS 466) and can be streamed live on ESPN+. Stay up to date with the Kickers at RichmondKickers.com.
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.
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:
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.
Kickers Hire FC Tucson Coach
A new Head Coach/Sporting Director has been brought on to move the Richmond Kickers forward.
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.
Kickers Announce Initial Roster for 2020
The off-season roster changes have begun.
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