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Game Preview: Kickers Back to Defend Regular Season Championship

The Kickers fell short in the playoffs but had an incredible season and hope to recapture that magic in 2023.




Opponent: Charlotte Independence (1-0-1)
Date/Time: Saturday, April 1st, 6:00 PM
Last Result: Kickers 1 – Greenville 0

Weather Forecast from Weatherbug

It’s looking to be a windy affair but the rain should only be in the morning, early afternoon.

Three Things to Kickabout

  1. No Bolanos – Jonathan Bolanos was the lynchpin to Richmond’s success last year. Scoring goals with 6 on the season, and setting up others for a total of 11 assists. The next closest on assists was Ethan Bryant with 6. Both these players have moved on to different leagues/teams. This means the Kickers primary goal scorer (USL1 MVP and Golden Boot Winner) Emiliano Terzaghi is looking for some partners. Who that will be with these new team is hard to say. In the first two road games the Kicker only managed 4 shots so they’re struggling to find the answer as well.
  2. Crowds – Towards the end of last season the Kickers were drawing close to 5,000. During the Covid year in an abbreviated season attendance was capped at 1,000. The Kickers have hosted two viewing parties for the road games and unlike previous years these were packed. What switch has been flipped in the Richmond area we’re not sure. The easy and I think too easy is that local fans like a winner and the Kickers did a ton of that last year. It will be interesting to see if the Kickers keep the numbers up after the home opener because the home opener is always well attended.
  3. Emiliano – Emiliano Terzaghi scored an astonishing 17 goals in 29 games. This won him the USL1 MVP and Golden Boot for an unprecedented third time in a row. So far he’s off to a cool start. In two games only getting off one shot and that wasn’t on target. As mentioned above the team is missing some crucial playmakers in Bolanos and Bryant but the Kickers will need to have Terzaghi find his stride quickly.


As we’ve repeated throughout the years I’m not unbiased. My passion for the team taints my ability to adequately analyze this team. If I’m being honest my analytical skill also taint my ability to adequately analyze this team. That doesn’t prevent from doing such so with that out of the way here we go. In the two games I’ve seen the offense is not there and it’s the defense that is keeping the Kickers in the game. This is to be expected. Coach Sawatsky is integrating new players into the system and it will take time. A game at home is a perfect time for it all to click. There is a problem though the Kickers played Charlotte for the season opener to a 0-0 draw. Charlotte’s second game saw them score 3 goals from three different players #12 Brad Dunwell, #5 Shalom Dutey and #90 Khori Bennett. In the off season Charlotte added some offensive power in Dane Kelly who is the all-time USL Championship goal scorer with 100 league goals but has scored yet. If the Kickers are going to win they’ll need to be ready for a much more attacking team than they saw 2 weeks ago. I think the defense is up to the task I’m just not sure the Kickers offense is ready.  Ultimately home field advantage and predicted wind gusts of up to 50 mph are giving the home town a slight advantage.

Kickers 1 
Independence 0

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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.