Yesterday, the Richmond Kickers played a preseason friendly against the University of Maryland whose purpose was to test the flock of trialists currently with the team and to integrate new signings into the team. Out of the starting lineup, only Mike Callahan and Alex Lee played regular minutes for the team last year. For the newly signed players, Shay Spitz, Samuel Asante, and George Davis IV all started and played most of the game. I was particularly impressed by Asante, who was a pitbull in defensive midfield and constantly pressuring the Maryland midfield. He was also able to jump into the attack, but his best chance was pushed wide.
George Davis IV played mostly from the left wing, and was able to put in some good crosses; he looked composed on the all and looks to be a good addition. Spitz played left back, which I do not think is his natural position. He played adequately there, but will have to get better if he is to be a regular fullback.
There were also a number of trialists who played. The ones who I noticed playing were:
- Shawn Sloan: Sloan spent all of last year with the Columbus Crew after being selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft. However, he was not re-signed for this season. He initially played as the lone forward in Leigh Cowlishaw’s 4-2-3-1, and he was not very effective.
- Jack Metcalf: Metcalf is a recent graduate from Clemson University, having grown up in Liverpool. He played for the Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers youth academies before coming to college in the States. He played on the left wing in the second half, and was lively. He took all of the free kicks while he was on the field, and they were threatening.
- Hugh Roberts: Roberts recently graduated from George Mason University and played centerback alongside Shane Johnson. He was mostly effective but unspectacular.
- Tish Hanley: Hanley spent last year with the Ocala Stampede of the USL PDL, the year before that with the Fredericksburg Hotspur of PDL, and before that for a team on St. Kitts. He has also made 11 appearances for the St. Kitts national team. He played forward during the second half, and was much more effective than Sloan. His header last in the second half hit the post.
Other trialists who either didn’t play or didn’t play enough for me to notice them:
- Caleb Lewis: A midfielder who just graduated from CNU.
- Daniel Welsh: Invited to the MLS Combine, Welsh is a centerback or a leftback. Grew up in Scottish youth academies.
- Nick Rich: Played for RVA FC last year as a part of their NPSL championship team. Graduate of VCU.
- Kelvin Herrera
- Romena Bowie: Played for RVA FC last year as a part of their NPSL championship team. Graduate of VCU.
There were, of course, three D.C. United loanees. They will be written up on Black and Red United in a day or two.
The Richmond Kickers announced today that midfielder Philippe Davies has been transferred to the Ottawa Fury of the NASL. The transfer is a free one, and Leigh Cowlishaw said that the move was made to free some salary to sign more attacking talent. With the loss of Joseph Ngwenya and Brian Ownby, who were two of the keys to the offense last season. I’m also sure that Cowlishaw has had conversations with D.C. United, and knows basically what players are coming his way on loan; perhaps he then thinks that he won’t be getting the attackers he needs, but will have enough midfielders.
Davies has been the third choice defensive midfielder since he was acquired in the middle of the 2012 season, after he was released by the Vancouver Whitecaps. With Luke Vercollone and Mike Callahan in front of him, it makes sense for Davies to move on so that he can try and get more playing team. Davies has appeared for the Canadian national team during his time with the Kickers, but if he wants to get back to that team he needs more regular playing time.
Tony Glavin, current owner and head coach of the St. Louis Lions of the USL PDL, said on 590 AM radio today that 2015 is his goal for bringing a USL PRO team to St. Louis.
The city, one of the historical hotbeds of soccer in the United States, has been without a professional team since AC St. Louis folded after one season in USSF Division 2. This team would be in addition to the St. Louis Lions and the St. Louis Ambush of the MISL, which is also owned by Glavin. There is also a campaign to bring MLS to St. Louis, but without any fully-professional soccer teams yet in the city, that campaign seems unlikely to succeed. Success at the USL PRO level, and establishing a team that has stability, would be a good first step towards that goal (should MLS want to continue its expansion efforts). And, regardless of any MLS aspirations, it would be good to see professional soccer back in St. Louis and to see USL PRO continue to grow.
As you may know, the Richmond Kickers and the Richmond Strikers announced about two months ago that they were merging their US Soccer Development Academies, to form Richmond United. More recently, they also announced that they will be merging their elite girls’ teams under the Richmond United banner so that they can compete in the ECNL. Yesterday, more news dropped out of Richmond United about their summer U-23 teams.
The picture with this tweet says that Richmond United will have both a men’s and a women’s U-23 team, competing this summer in matches against local and regional teams. The news of a women’s team is new, and is a welcome sight. While they will not be in a league this summer, as far as I know, perhaps down the line they will join the PDL and the W-League.
The Richmond Kickers have announced a list of players currently signed to the team, which includes the two players signed so far this offseason, Shay Spitz and Samuel Asante, as well as a group of players returning from last season. Starters Mike Callahan, Sascha Goerres, Henry Kalungi, Alex Lee, Luke Vercollone, and William Yomby all return, as well as reserve players Philippe Davies, Shane Johnson, Ryan Taylor, and Jason Yeisley.
Notably absent from this list are Joseph Ngwenya, who signed with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Brian Ownby, who has returned to the Houston Dynamo, and Nate Robinson, who is recovering from surgery. A creative, central player like Collin Martin would be well served in this lineup, as there is no one here who currently plays that role.
As the tweet says, there will be more signings in the coming weeks (and the Kickers will start their preseason games as well).
The Richmond Kickers announced today that rookie midfielder Joseph Haboush has left the team to sign with Al-Safa SC of the Lebanese Premier League. Al-Safa has been the champions of the Lebanese league the past two seasons and Haboush will join them in time to participate in the AFC Cup, which is Asia’s Champions’ League. One of his teammates in Beirut will be Ibrahim Toure, who is the younger brother of Yaya and Kolo Toure.
Haboush was signed in February to be a contender for the central attacking midfielder position and started the first game of the season in that position; however, when Joseph Ngwenya was signed in April, any opportunities for playing time were severely limited. With Nate Robinson now in Finland, Haboush leaving for Lebanon, and an unknown number of changes still to come to the team, it will be a wild offseason for the Kickers. However, it does please me to see Kickers’ alums moving up in the soccer world, which both shows the talents of Leigh Cowlishaw as a coach and the respectability of the Kickers as an overall organization. Best wishes to Haboush in Beirut!
Richmond Kickers winger Nate Robinson will be going on trial for three weeks with Vaasan Palloseura of the Finnish Veikkausliiga, which is the top division of Finnish soccer. VPS is currently third in this season’s Veikkausliiga, with two games left to play after this international break. Should they stay in third place, they will qualify for the first qualifying round of the 2014-2015 Europa League; this would be an amazing leap for a player who was considering going back to his PDL six months ago. VPS would be a good landing place for Robinson, as the team currently has two Americans who made the jump straight from USL Pro. Karsten Smith played for FC New York in its only USL Pro season and the San Antonio Scorpions in NASL before going to Finland; Jordan Seabrook played for the Harrisburg City Islanders before making the jump to a team in a Swedish regional league and then quickly jumping up to VPS.
It is becoming more and more likely that Robinson’s first season will become his only season in the River City, with D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls also offering trials to Robinson. If Robinson does not make the jump overseas, there will be MLS opportunities for him.
After what seems like an eternity, Henry Kalungi’s loan deal to the Carolina Railhawks is finally complete. There he will join another Richmond Kickers loanee, Mike Callahan, in helping the Railhawks close out their NASL season. This will be Kalugni’s second loan stint with the Railhawks, having played in one game for them at the end of the 2012 season. Hopefully, that experience will allow him to slot right in and get a couple of games worth of playing time.
The Railhawks have stumble at bit in their last few games, now sitting 7 points behind the New York Cosmos in the race for the second spot in the Soccer Bowl with four games remaining. Former Richmond Kickers head coach Colin Clarke, who now coaches the Railhawks, will have a tough time getting his club back near the top; however, they do have a chance against the Cosmos tomorrow night. I am all for rooting against any and all New York based soccer teams, so hopefully the Railhawks can pull off a win and hopefully their Richmond Kickers loanees can help them do so.
Richmond Kickers all-time leading goalscorer Matthew Delicate has told the team that he has played his last season in the River City, according to Vic Dorr of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He anticipates offers from a number of USL Pro teams; failing that, he will retire. Delicate was apparently displeased by the manner in which his contract for this year was negotiated as he came off of a long term injury and feels that the same thing is shaping up to happen this season.
Delicate only became a starter down the stretch for the Kickers, when Michael Seaton was dealing with injury and being recalled to D.C. United, after battling injuries in 2012 as well. In his only quote about the situation, Leigh Cowlishaw mused that other teams can afford to pay higher salaries than Richmond can, and it is in exactly this spot where the Kickers benefited so greatly from the MLS-USL Pro relationship. If the Kickers re-sign Deli at a higher salary and then D.C. United wants to send Michael Seaton (or another striker) down for more experience, the Kickers have wasted their money. Another year of that relationship will allow the Kickers again to get good players for free from MLS and being able to spend that savings to improve the rest of their roster.
It would be strange to see Deli in a different uniform (even though he was with Rochester for three years), but I wish him the best of luck in his post Richmond career.
Another day, another Richmond Kickers player on the move. This time it is defensive midfielder Mike Callahan, who is going to North Carolina’s Triangle to join the Carolina Railhawks on loan. There are six games left in the fall season for the Railhawks, in which Callahan can hopefully propel the Railhawks past the New York Cosmos and into the Soccer Bowl against the Atlanta Silverbacks. For those who don’t know, the NASL adopted a split schedule this year, and the Soccer Bowl pits the winner of the spring season against the winner of the fall season.
Mike Callahan is a tenacious defensive midfielder who is best at breaking up play, serving as an outlet for the rest of the players on his team, and playing the short, safe pass to keep possession. This past season with the Kickers has been his best so far, and has been the first season in which Callahan has been healthy the entire time. It is also a homecoming for him, having grown up in Cary, North Carolina. We will keep you updated on Callahan’s progress with the Railhawks.