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Richmond Kickers Terzaghi and Fitzgerald Honored by USL1

Although the Kickers were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round there was still plenty to celebrate.

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Reigning 2020 USL League One Most Valuable Player and reigning back-to-back Golden Boot winner Emiliano Terzaghi was named USL League One Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season, the league announced Thursday.

“Ganar este premio tan importante por segunda vez consecutiva significa un gran orgullo para mi de gran importancia porque volver a conseguirlo siempre es más difícil que hacerlo por primera vez.”

“Winning this important award for the second time in a row means a lot to me,” Terzaghi said. “It was of great importance because getting it again is always more difficult than doing it for the first time.”

“Agradezco a mis compañeros de equipo a todo el staff y la gente que trabaja con nosotros día a día que sin ellos no ubiese sido posible todo este proceso de mi crecimiento.”

I thank my teammates and all the staff and people who work with us every day because without them this whole process of my growth as a member of the Kickers would not have been possible.”

After earning league MVP, Golden Boot, and All-League First Team honors during the truncated 2020 season, Terzaghi continued his ascendancy as the face of USL League One as he scored 18 goals in 27 appearances — averaging a goal every 128.4 minutes — setting the league’s new single-season goal scoring record. Furthermore, Terzaghi now sits as the league’s all-time leading goal scorer with 28 goals over the last two seasons.

“To follow up the 2020 Golden Boot with an 18 goal 2021 Golden Boot season is an incredible accomplishment,” Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky said. “He was a known commodity going into this season so it makes it even more difficult.

“Emi’s presence in our club is much greater than the statistics he has accumulated over the past two seasons. He is a humble professional who comes to work each day ready to help the team in any way needed. There are some very good players in USL League One, having Emi in our culture here day to day showcases for all of us how valuable he is for our club.”

Terzaghi shared the responsibility of acting as club co-captain alongside Ivan Magalhães during the 2021 season, and Terzaghi led by example who specialized in changing the outcomes of matches as he scored the game-winning goal in six matches as well as assisting Jonathan Bolanos’ game winner against North Texas on July 3.

The Argentine talisman’s ability to come up clutch was on full display in the waning weeks of the season as the Kickers went on a five-match winning streak to guarantee its first appearance in the postseason since 2016 with Terzaghi scoring the game winner in four of the matches and a brace in the regular-season home finale against Forward Madison.

The consistency displayed by Terzaghi throughout the season cannot be overstated as the forward picked up Player of the Month honors during the months of July and October. Terzaghi was a fixture in the league’s weekly honors earning Cleer Audio Player of the Week in week 13 as well as recognition in the Cleer Audio Team of the Week during weeks 5, 17, 19, 25, 26, 28, and 30.

El rey’s heroics on the pitch saw him earn his second-straight Red Army Supporters’ MVP that was awarded to him following the conclusion of the regular-season home finale.

“¡Soy muy agradecido y trabajo muy duro para representar a nuestra comunidad al club para llevarlo a lo más alto! ¡También devolverle a los fans todo el cariño que nos dan siempre ! ellos son un parte muy especial para mi.”

“I am very grateful and I work very hard to represent our community and this club to take it to the top! To give back to the fans after all the love they always give us, they are a very special part of me!” – Richmond Kickers Announcment

Richmond Kickers’ starting goalkeeper and goalkeeping coach, Akira Fitzgerald was named the USL League One Goalkeeper of the Year for his record-breaking efforts during the 2021 season, the league announced Tuesday.

“It’s a great honor to win this award because there are many top goalkeepers in this league who had fantastic seasons and will go on and have great careers,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have played this long and to win this award at this stage of my career is a great accomplishment.

“I feel more motivated than ever to continue to push on and achieve more for the club and myself.”

The 34-year-old veteran enjoyed a career year as he set the new single-season league record of 89 saves. Furthermore, Fitzgerald recorded 10 clean sheets that led all goalkeepers as the Kickers finished tied for second in total clean sheets behind first-place Greenville Triumph SC.

Fitzgerald would also record a 72.1 percent save percentage ranking ahead of 2021 Golden Glove winner Rashid Nuhu of Union Omaha.

“Being able to lead the league in clean sheets was an incredible collective effort that we as a group can take great pride in,” Fitzgerald said. “Every player played a role in making sure we were defensively solid each week, and I have to give an incredible amount of love to my backline who always put everything they had into each match.

He continued, “I think it also showed how strong our goalkeeping department was to set a single-season record in saves while also helping the team into the playoffs. I want to thank Austin Aviza and Austin Causey for their incredible professionalism and hard work throughout the year because without them it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve these kinds of numbers and success for the club.”

Fitzgerald previously was named to the USL League One All-League First Team earlier in November 2021 before being named as a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year. He was nominated alongside Omaha’s Nuhu and New England Revolution II’s Joe Rice — a former Richmond Kicker and understudy to Fitzgerald in 2019.

“It’s a great accomplishment for Akira after a very good season,” Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky said. “You need your goalkeeper to keep you in games and Akira has done that consistently over the past two seasons.

“He is in charge of our goalkeeping department here in Richmond and we look forward to him between the pipes and running training in 2022 and beyond. I cannot think of a human being with more class, and I am happy he is being recognized.” – Richmond Kickers Announcement

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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.

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Kickers

Preview: Kickers Finish Busy Week by Facing USL Champs Omaha

Let’s not dwell on Wednesday’s game instead all attention is turned to the USL season.

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Opponent: Union Omaha (1 – 1 – 2)
Date/Time: Saturday, May 14th, 6:30 PM
Last Result: Kickers 0 Forward Madison 1

Weather Forecast From WeatherBug.com

Second weekend in a row where we say bleck.

Three Things to Kick About

  1. Vengeance Shall Be Mine – The Kicker had their teeth kicked in on Wednesday. An important game that they were totally in got away from them and ended not just in defeat but in a drubbing. Professional athletes do not like to lose. The team will come out with a massive chip on their shoulder. This chip is enlarged because not only are the Union Omaha the reigning champs they also advanced in the Open Cup on the same night the Kickers went down.
  2. Weather – Richmond fans are notoriously wimpy when it comes to rainy weather. Attendance will probably hit a season-low on Saturday. The weather isn’t the only cause. This will be the third game in a week and some suffer soccer burnout. Counterpoint the players and staff absolutely love each and every person that braves a little bad weather to support the home team. These guys put their bodies and hearts on the line every week the least we can do is get a little wet in support.
  3. Zaca – Zaca Moran is one of the unsung heroes of the Richmond Kickers. He’s not flashy, defenders rarely are, but he digs in and get the work done. Sometimes he plays an enforcer role but he is always quietly and efficiently doing his job. Currently, he leads the team in tackles. This past Wednesday though he was the Kicker that stepped forward and scored against MLS side Charlotte FC. He couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Prediction

I’m not keeping track of predictions this year because my ego is too fragile but I do know the past two have been stunningly wrong. I’m hoping to get back on track this game. For both Omaha and the Kickers this is the third game in seven days. Omaha and Kickers both played at home on Wednesday but Omaha has to come here so advantage Richmond. Omaha sits in 8th in the table and Richmond 5th, advantage Richmond again, grain of salt reality check Omaha has played one less game. Omaha won the league last year and as a result, many players moved on to other teams, while the Kicker have a strong core and very little change in starters. Lastly, if you throw out the Open Cup the Kickers have only lost in City Stadium twice in recent history both to own goals. City Stadium has been very good to the team the trend will continue or rather reignite tomorrow.

Kickers 2 – Union Omaha 0

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Kickers Open Cup Ends with Loss to Charlotte FC – Photos and Game Summary

The Kicker kept it close for nearly 60 minutes but momentum shifted and the home side lost 5-1.

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Official Kickers Game Summary

The Richmond Kickers set a new attendance record post-COVID as 4,612 fans filled the stands during the 2022 Open Cup Round of 32 against MLS side, Charlotte FC which ended with the visitors earning a 5-1 result.

The Kickers nearly drew first blood with a header from Matthew Bentley in the 29th minute. Emiliano Terzaghi played the role of creator on the left wing as he lifted a cross to the Brit. Bentley deftly flicked the shot on target with his head, forcing a diving save from the Charlotte keeper.

Despite momentum favoring the Kickers, the visitors broke the stalemate in the 33rd minute. Charlotte forward Daniel Rios fired a shot from inside the box that was saved by Akira Fitzgerald with a deflection. However, the deflection fell to teammate Yordy Reyna who passed the ball back into the box and Rios guided it into the net.

By halftime, Richmond had totaled six shots with two shots on goal but Charlotte held serve in the scoreline.

The Kickers came out of the dressing room firing to start the second half. Soon after, Zaca Moran scored his first goal in front of the City Stadium crowd with an equalizer in the 52nd minute. Leonardo Baima combined with Vincenzo Candela on a one-two, deep on the left wing, before Baima crossed the ball to the back post to Stephen Payne. Payne squared the ball back towards the middle of the box as Moran charged in and fired a shot that beat the keeper and hit the net.

The magic of a possible cupset started to dissipate as Charlotte responded quickly with a goal in transition that involved a controversial restart of play in the 54th minute. Charlotte found two more goals by the 61st minute as the Kickers opened up in an attempt to chase the game.

Owayne Gordon made his debut tonight for the Kickers, coming in as a substitute in the 63rd minute and had a breakaway in the 80th minute, taking the ball from midfield and dribbling past three defenders before taking the shot, which was saved by George Marks. The new Roo flashed his tenacity and agility by tracking back across the field to shut down another attacking chance from Charlotte.

The Kickers had one last great chance in front of goal as Nil Vinyals took a free kick in the 89th minute. The final shot by a Kicker curled dangerously over the Charlotte wall and beat the keeper, but the shot had too much English and hit the wrong side of the woodwork.

In total, the Kickers were unlucky not to score more as they outshot Charlotte 17 to 13 while placing six shots on goal. The Kickers finished with a 1.59 xG only just behind Charlotte’s 1.96.

The Kickers stay at home for one final match of their three-match homestand. The Roos host defending USL League One Champions, Union Omaha, on Saturday, May 14th on First Responders Night. Kickoff for the match is set for 6:30 p.m.

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Kickers Look to Dethrone Queen City aka Charlotte FC in Open Cup – Preview

An MLS team is playing in City for the first time in about 6 years.

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What is the Open Cup? – Technically, The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is a knockout cup competition in men’s American soccer. It is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States. What makes it exciting is that it pits teams from all levels of U.S. soccer against each other. Amateur teams if they make far enough could end up facing top-level (MLS) professional teams. MLS teams have dominated the competition since the league began play in 1996. No lower division team has won the U.S. Open Cup since the Rochester Rhinos in 1999, and none have reached the final since the Charleston Battery in 2008. Our very own Richmond Kickers won the Open Cup in 1995 and in 2011 the Kickers went on the road and beat two MLS Teams the Columbus Crew and Sporting KC. They fell to the Chicago Fire in the semi-final.

1995 Open Cup Winners Richmond Kickers

Opponent: MLS team Charlotte FC (Beat USL1 Greenville Triumph in Penalty Kicks to advance)
Date/Time: Wednesday, May 10th, 6:30 PM
Last Result: Kickers beat North Carolina Fusion under 23 team of United Soccer League 2 1-0

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Four Things to Kick About

  1. Destiny – The last time the Kickers won the Open Cup we had a fellow by the name of Jeff Causey on the team. This year we have this fellow’s son Austin Causey on the team. Coincidence, I think not. Both and Jeff are goalkeepers. Will we see Austin in goal tomorrow? I’m beating not but I’m a notoriously bad bettor. Read about that 1995 Kickers Open Cup win here. Yes, this is a repeat from the last Open Cup preview. Still true.
  2. Queen City – This is Charlotte FC first season as a professional soccer team. This means the team hasn’t been in the Open Cup before. We’ll mark that as a slight advantage. They currently sit in 8th in the table out of 14 teams. So they’re definitely not a weak team. They’ve scored 10 goals in 11 games and have a -1 goal differential so they’re also not an offensive powerhouse. This was brought to light in their previous Open Cup that was forced to go to penalty kicks. The players to watch out for include, forward Karol Swiderski who has netted 4 goals so far this season, and midfielder B. Bender who has 3 assists so far.
  3. Nothing to Lose – The Kickers are without a doubt the underdog. Many of the Kickers someday hope to play in the MLS. This chance to play against the top league in the US is an opportunity for these players to show off their skills. I expect they’ll leave it all on the field and play with a passion that we haven’t seen yet. Yes, I expect them to crank it to 11.
  4. Midnight Cookie – The Ukrops name is on the front of the jersey and yesterday the Kickers released a new jersey the Midnight Cookie that puts the so very Richmond/Ukrops Rainbow Cookie front and center. The team will be debuting this new jerseys during the Open Cup. The power of the Rainbow Cookie could be just enough for the win.

Prediction

Anything can happen. If Charlotte comes out flat at all the Kickers need to pounce on that laziness and punish with a quick goal. The longer the game goes on the tougher it’s going to be for the home side. The MLS squad has single players with larger salaries than all of the Kickers combined so it’s going to be tough. In my dream scenario what happens is that Charlotte is so focused on stopping the obvious and well-publicized threat Terzaghi that it leaves the door open for players like Bently to nab a goal. Our defense is stout and should be able to keep us in the game, scoring will need to happen. Will it be enough? I’m doubtful but also refuse to count this team out.

Kickers win in Penalty Kicks after a 1-1 draw.

Tickets are still available here.

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