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Game Preview: Kickers Head Up to DC in Open Cup Action

The last time these teams faced off was at City Stadium in 2013. DCU won in penalty kicks.

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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.

Opponent:  DC United (First game in this year’s Open Cup)
Date/Time: Wednesday, April 25th, 7:30 PM at Audi Field in the District of Columbia
Last Result: Kickers 3 – Cleveland SC 2 in a rain-delayed game that took over 5 hours to complete

Weather Forecast From WeatherBug.com

Three Things to Kick About

  1. Radio Only – This game will not be televised due to overwhelming apathy by DC United and the Richmond Kickers. DCU had first rights to broadcast the game they declined which meant that Richmond had the opportunity to step in broadcast. They declined as well and as a result the only people that will see this game live are those in the stadium. This was a golden opportunity for both teams to showcase this tournament and they both failed. The Kickers made no effort to help get fans up to DC and have posted 2-3 generic items on Social Media. The River City Red Army the Kickers supporter group worked with the DCU front office on getting cheap tickets and as of this writing had about 70 folks making the trip up I-95. You can listen to the live radio broadcast of the match online at iHeartSportsDC.com and the iHeart App!
  2. Goals – Goals have been lacking during regular season games for the Kickers and that’ll need to improve on Wednesday. Most importantly Terzaghi has to get in the mix. It is possible that DCU scouting will be so focused on Terzaghi that Bently and others can take advantage. If the Kickers have a chance at sneaking a goal they have to complete that shot. There will not many second chances against a MLS Team.
  3. Underdogs Bite – Usually I post this from the perspective of the favorite but it’s even more tru now that the Kickers are the David facing an MLS Goliath. Underdogs in this tournament have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They nearly always come in with a chip on their shoulder and aren’t afraid to make up for a lack of talent with a few (or more than a few) hard fouls. Open Cup games in these early rounds are rarely pretty but they are often exciting hard-hitting affairs. I expect this to be more of the same.

Game Previews with River City 93 and United 96

Prediction

These two clubs and fans have many years of history. At one point DC United was lending players to the Kickers on a weekly basis. They faced off in 2013 in City Stadium and the Kicker lost in penalty kicks. The Kickers season has really just started while DCU is further along. DCU is coming off a 2 game-winning streak, the longest for coach Wayne Rooney (yes that Wayne Rooney). Of nearly all the MLS teams to face the Kickers have the best opportunity to steal a win. DCU should be focused on league play and might not have as many starters on the field. DCU has to face Charlotte on Saturday and traditionally MLS teams treat the Open Cup as an afterthought. The Kickers have nothing to lose. In particular Kicker faithful are hoping that Christian Benteke doesn’t step foot on the pitch. I’ll be traveling up to support the Kickers so my heart wants the win. Logically it’s going to be a hard hill to climb. The financial and skill levels between MSL and USL are gigantic. One player for DCU could finance the entirety of the Kickers roster. There is always a chance though and I hope I’m there to see it happen.

My Heart says: Kickers 1 DCU 0

My Brain says: Kickers 0 DCU 3

 

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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.