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Richmond Kickers Win Three Post-Season Awards: League MVP, Coach of the Year, and Young Player of the Year

Emiliano Terzaghi, Darren Sawatsky, and Ethan Bryant were all honored by USL1 for their outstanding season.



The Kickers fell short (again) in the playoffs but it was not for a lack of talent. Fellow USL1 peers voted and three Kickers as the best of the best. Most impressive has to be Emiliano Terzaghi who was selected for the third time in a row as League MVP.

Announcements by Richmond Kickers

Emiliano Terzaghi MVP

USL League One announced on Friday that Richmond Kickers’ forward Emiliano Terzaghi is the league’s Most Valuable Player for an unprecedented third consecutive season. Terzaghi becomes the first player in American professional soccer (outdoor) history to be named a league’s MVP three times in succession.

The 2022 campaign saw Terzaghi earn his third straight Golden Boot award as the league’s leading goal scorer with 17 tallies, extending his lead as USL League One’s all-time leading goalscorer with 45 goals. Currently, Terzaghi has 46 goals for the Kickers after scoring the stoppage-time game-winner against NC Fusion in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup this season.

“Being named MVP for the third time along with three golden boots as well is a great source of pride for me,” Terzaghi said. “It is something that is very difficult to achieve and requires me to improve myself every season with a lot of work and effort. I thank each of my teammates, coaches, and family because without them none of this would be possible. I feel very proud.”

“Emiliano showed his class again this year winning the Golden Boot and the MVP of USL League One,” Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach, Darren Sawatzky said. “To accomplish this three years in a row is incredible and it’s a testament to his hard work and dedication to the game.

“To be consistent in scoring goals at any level is difficult. USL League One is a very competitive league where players already know Emiliano can score goals and to score 17 goals is an amazing accomplishment for a very good player. There are many quality players that epitomize the role of MVP for their teams in our league, and we are happy for Emiliano that he was recognized again as he is very valuable to our club here in Richmond.”

Terzaghi also returned to the All-League First Team for the third straight season. The Argentine talisman was a constant in the league’s in-season awards, amassing the August Player of the Month award alongside another monthly nomination in April as well as earning a Player of the Week nod during week 19 and team of the week honors during weeks 1, 2, 14, and 22.

“For the Richmond fans, your words of thanks are incredible,” Terzaghi said. “Thank you for the support, the affection, and the bond that we have formed over these years. It is an honor and a privilege to represent you on the field.”

Darren Sawatzky Coach of the Year

USL League One announced on Thursday that Richmond Kickers’ Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky is the league’s Coach of the Year after the club earned its first regular-season title in nearly a decade.

Sawatzky earns his first Coach of the Year award nearly three years from the day of his appointment as Kickers’ gaffer which took place on November 6, 2019.

The Kicker’s 2022 season – its 30th season in succession continuing its streak as the longest, continuously operating professional club in the country – marked the third season with Sawatzky at the helm alongside Head Assistant Coach Mika Elovaara and Goalkeeping Coach Akira Fitzgerald as the team reached its next important milestone in rebuilding the Kickers back to being a recognizable stalwart in US Soccer.

After two straight winning seasons and the Kickers’ first playoff appearance since 2016 during Sawatazky’s second season, the Roos claimed the regular-season title with a game to spare in the midst of a nine-match unbeaten streak which was the longest unbeaten streak for the Kickers in the USL League One era. The team scored the most goals in league history (54) and tied for second in most points earned in a single season (51).

The team finished 14-7-9 with a plus-19 goal differential while conceding the second-fewest goals in the league. It marks the club’s best win total since 2013 and the highest goal differential since 2014.

“I work with some great people in Richmond and, on behalf of the technical staff here, we are grateful to work in the game we love,” Coach Sawatzky said. “To be recognized by our peers after a very competitive 30-game regular season is amazing. To see players reach personal goals and to see the team find consistent form was great.”

Under Sawatzky, the Kickers produced two Most Valuable Player nominees in Emiliano Terzaghi and Jonathan Bolanos, the Young Player of the Year Recipient in Ethan Bryant, a Goalkeeper of the Year nominee in Akira Fitzgerald, and a Defender of the Year nominee in Jalen Crisler. Additionally, Bolanos, Terzaghi, and Crisler were named to the USL League One All-League First Team, and Fitzgerald was named to the All-League Second Team.

Leading the charge for the Kickers’ historic offense was Terzaghi who claimed his third-straight Golden Boot title with 17 goals and Bolanos who was the league’s Assist Champion with a new single-season record of 11. Terzaghi and Bolanos also both represented the Kickers as Player of the Month, Terzaghi in August and Bolanos in September. Terzaghi was also nominated for Player of the Month alongside Fitzgerald in April while Bolanos was nominated in June.

Additionally, the Kickers received 39 placements on the league’s team of the week during the regular season.

“We have worked hard to create a good culture of winning here in Richmond,” Coach Sawatzky said. “We knew it would take time, but three years of work was reflected in a regular season title and an opportunity in the playoffs. We will continue to work and build for our community. Thank you to everyone that supported us this year.”

Ethan Bryant Young Player of the Year

USL League One announced on Wednesday that Richmond Kickers’ midfielder Ethan Bryant is the league’s Young Player of the Year after the 21-year-old enjoyed a breakout campaign in his first full season with the club.

Bryant earns the distinction as one of the brightest young talents in the league after putting together one of the most underrated midfield performances in 2022. He is also the first member of the Kickers to win Young Player of the Year.

“I am very honored to be recognized by the league for this award,” Bryant said. “It was a goal of mine since the start of the season. As a collective, we had a successful season. When the collective flourishes, so do individuals.”

In the center of the park, Bryant helped pull the strings for the Kickers’ record-setting offense that saw him rank second on the team in chances created with 30, second on the team with five assists, and tied for sixth on the team with three goals.

“I am very happy for Ethan as he worked incredibly hard over the past 18 months and was a huge part of our attacking core this year,” Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky added. “He has had a different pathway to the professional game than most players in the United States and, after having a couple years of hardship, he rekindled his fire and it showed for us this year. He is mature beyond his years and his future is bright now that he is firing on all cylinders.”

Bryant enjoyed a number of signature performances that included a brace of assists on June 1 against Chattanooga Red Wolves SC when he served up two balls on a platter from the left corner that earned the Kickers a 3-0 win. His first two goals for the Kickers came 10 days later against Charlotte Independence when he recorded a first-half brace in a 4-0 rout.

“I feel like I have continued to improve in my performances as the season went on,” Bryant said. “I am thankful to have a club that believes in me during the good and the bad moments.”

Bryant’s third goal of the season proved to be an exclamation point during the Kickers’ nine-match unbeaten streak to finish the season. Against Central Valley Fuego FC on September 27, Bryant ripped off an outside-of-the-box strike that knocked the dust out of the right-hand side of the net.

A tenacious player with a veteran presence despite his age, Bryant was a nuisance in the middle of the park, winning the third-most fouls on the team with 32 while only conceding 10 fouls and picking up a single yellow card.

“Right now it feels like we came a little short of our goal, but with time, we will be able to look back on this season and be proud of what we accomplished as a team and as individuals,” Bryant concluded.

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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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