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.
Offseason Changes Begin Early for Richmond Kickers as President Matt Spear Steps Down
Matt Spear joined the Kickers in January of 2019 as part of 22 Holdings took over the club. Rob Ukrop also part of 22 Holdings reamins
The Richmond Kickers announced this morning that President Matt Spear will be leaving the organization to focus on his family.
Full Statement from the Richmond Kickers.
Richmond Kickers Pro Soccer President Matt Spear has stepped down from his role to focus on his family. The former sports marketing entrepreneur and college head coach joined the Kickers in January of 2019 as 22 Holdings took over as the new ownership group, and quickly made his mark on the Richmond sports landscape.
“I am so grateful for my experience with the Richmond Kickers,” commented Spear. “Rob Ukrop leads the growing ownership group with the bold transition and new chapter for this special, storied club. My focus and goals started with mission, culture, and community. Success on the field, adding investors, improving the stadium/fan experience and raising the organization’s trajectory follow purpose and people. I have loads of confidence in the tremendous folks at the club such as Darren Sawatzky to push towards deeper impact and great results. And thank you fans and friends in RVA – you are essential elements of the club’s spirit and drive. Go Richmond!”
During Spear’s leadership, the club has crafted a new core mission, vision and principles, built out a strong leadership team with new hires including Sporting Director and Head Coach, Darren Sawatzky, and Vice President of Sales and Operations, Camp Peery. With Spear’s decision-making in 2019, the team improved from a 9th place finish to one win away from the club’s first Final appearance since 2010. Finally, he led the push for the first major renovations at City Stadium since 1994 with nearly $2 million worth of investments over the last 18 months.
“It is a difficult day knowing my long-time friend, Matt Spear, has chosen to leave our organization to focus on his family, but the entire RVA community is thankful for his efforts to unify our community through soccer,” said Rob Ukrop, Kickers Chairman. “Matt has always been a tremendous leader, and his energy and enthusiasm has been contagious for our team both on and off the field. He has helped our club create a solid foundation to continue building on, and we know Matt and [his son] Beck will be back in town to cheer on his beloved Kickers with his many Richmond area friends in the Red Army and beyond.”
The Kickers completed a much improved season this past Saturday. The team finished fourth in the league and just missed out playing in the Championship Game in an abbreviated season.
Photos and Game Summary: Kicker Miss Out on League Championship with Saturday Loss
Heartbreak in City Stadium on Saturday as the Kickers miss out on their chance to play in the USL League 1 Championship.
Official Kickers Summary
The Richmond Kickers (8-6-2) fell at home to Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (6-5-4) Saturday night at City Stadium. Greg Hurst put the visitors up in the 57th minute. Oalex Anderson scored his second goal in as many matches to level the score in the 64th minute. Mark Hernandez scored the winner for Chattanooga in stoppage time.
Eight minutes into the match Akira Fitzgerald needed to make a stop. Ricardo Ruiz played in an outswinging pass into the Richmond box. Greg Hurst managed to get a foot on the ball as Fitzgerald palmed it away from goal.
Wahab Ackwei came away with a big block in the 24th minute to keep the visitors off the board. Ricardo Zacarias was working the left wing with no real options. He squared a pass for Greg Hurst at the top of the box. Ackwei got in front of the shot to make the block and eventually clear it from danger.
The Richmond keeper was put to work again in the 29th minute with a point blank save. Josue Soto found Ricky Ruiz making a run in behind the Richmond backline. He got to the endline to get a cross into the box. Hurst again looked for a one-time effort that was denied by Fitzgerald.
Mutaya Mwape forced a save from Alex Mangels in the 36th minute. Mumbi Kwesele noticed Mwape making a run in space up the right side. The Zambian continued his run before trying to sneak in a shot at a tough angle. Mangels came away with the grab.
A long range effort in the 41st minute was once again stopped by Fitzgerald. After Soto laid the ball off, Zacarias looked to try his luck from about 25 yards out. Fitzgerald knocked it down and then pounced on the loose ball before Hurst could get to the rebound.
Chattanooga struck first in the 58th minute. Conor Doyle picked up control of the ball inside the center circle, taking one touch to play the ball through for Greg Hurst to run onto. He got a touch around Fitzgerald as he was coming off his line and put his shot into the net for the goal.
Richmond responded six minutes later from Oalex Anderson. Ryley Kraft floated in a free kick that came out to Matt Bolduc on the left wing. Breaking away from his defender, Bolduc found the opening to whip in a cross. Anderson was there with no one to stop him for his match tying header. That was his second goal in as many matches to pull the Kickers level.
The Kickers nearly jumped ahead in the 78th minute. Luke Pavone played a pass short to Bolduc as he was looking like he was making a run towards the right wing. He then cut back across the top of the Chattanooga box, launching a shot that Mangels needed to save.
The Red Wolves took the lead again in second half stoppage. Jason Ramos got control of the ball in front of the Chattanooga bench. He sent in a cross as Mark Hernandez made a near post run, getting a foot on the ball to slide it past Fitzgerald.
With the result in the Union Omaha match, the Kickers have been eliminated from contention for the USL League One Final.
|TEAM||FIRST HALF||SECOND HALF||FINAL|
Richmond: Akira Fitzgerald, Scott Thomsen (80’ – Stanley Alves), Wahab Ackwei, Kyle Venter, Luke Pavone, Victor Falck, Mumbi Kwesele (45’ – Greg Boehme), Ryley Kraft (78’ – Emiliano Terzaghi), Matt Bolduc, Gianluca Cuomo (45’ – Oalex Anderson), Mutaya Mwape (45’ – Jonathan Bolanos)
Unused Substitutes: Lee Johnston, David Diosa
Chattanooga: Alex Mangels, Uchenna Uzo (70’ – Ronaldo Pineda), Leo Folla, Jason Ramos, Jonathan Ricketts, Josue Soto, Tanner Dieterich, Conor Doyle, Ricardo Ruiz, Greg Hurst (90’ – Alexi Jaimes), Ricardo Zacarias (65’ – Mark Hernandez)
Unused Substitutes: Nicholas Amponsah, Nikolaos Pettas
|57′||CHA||Greg Hurst (Conor Doyle)|
|64′||RIC||Oalex Anderson (Matt Bolduc)|
|90′||CHA||Mark Hernandez (Jason Ramos)|
Assistant Referees: Ben Pilgram, Nicholas Seymour
Fourth Official: Nickrod Fateh
Preview: Kickers One Win From Championship
With a win against Chattanooga on Saturday the Kickers would face Greenville for the USL League Championship.
Opponent: Chattanooga Red Wolves (5-5-4)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 24th, 6:30
Last Result: Kickers 3 – Orlando 1
Weather Forecast from WeatherBug.com
Three Things to Kick About
- Daryl Grove – It’s with an extremely heavy heart we share the news of the passing a Richmond soccer legend Daryl Grove. Daryl was one half of the Total Soccer Show and devoted to the growth of soccer and was an all-around great guy. He will be missed.
- Terzaghi – Leading Golden Boot winner didn’t make the trip down to Orlando on Wednesday after picking up a knock on Saturday. Every single Kickers fan is hoping to see him on the field this Saturday.
- Win and In – It’s that simple. The more complicated version is that the Kickers need to tie Omaha’s result. Omaha kicks off after the Kickers game so the Kicker just have to win and take any guesswork out of the equation.
I’m honestly too nervous to think rationally and feel that predicting anything but a win will cast bad vibes on the team. So gotta go with a Kickers win.
Kickers 1 – Chattanooga 0
Official Richmond Kickers Preview
Midfielder Mutaya Mwape (#10) scored his first goal the season to level the score against Orlando Wednesday. The Zambian made his 12th appearance this season, and seventh start to go with an assist. Forward Stanley Alves (#9) made his third start of the season and scored his first professional goal against Orlando. A product of University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Alves has played in ten matches in his rookie season. Forward Oalex Anderson (#15) scored his first goal for the Kickers as the insurance goal at OCB. Joining later in the season, Anderson made his second start and fifth appearance for Richmond.
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
Forward Greg Hurst (#11) leads Chattanooga in scoring with seven goals this season. He sits tied for second overall in the league behind Emiliano Terzaghi with his ten goals. Forward Mark Hernandez (#20) has four assists this season to lead the team. The Anaheim, Ca. native also has three goals in 11 matches this season for the Red Wolves. Goalkeeper Alex Mangels (#24) is in his second season in Chattanooga and holds a 1.14 goals against average heading into Saturday’s match in Richmond. The product of the University of California, Berkeley has three clean sheets through 14 matches.