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Richmond Kickers vs. Dayton Dutch Lions Preview!

After a string of disappointing results and scrappy wins, the Richmond Kickers broke out with a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds this past weekend. If they want to continue their streak of consecutive playoff appearances, currently at eight, alive they will have to continue their winning ways against the Dayton Dutch Lions. The Dutch Lions are coming off of a win against the Harrisburg City Islanders but currently sit seven points behind the Kickers for the last playoff spot. As with the game against the Riverhounds, this is one that the Kickers must win if they expect to get to the playoffs. There are five teams battling for three playoff spots who are all within 3 points of each other, which leaves no room for error.

This will be the match where we found out if the offensive explosion mounted against the Riverhounds was a sign of this team turning the corner or if it is just a sign of how poorly the the Riverhounds played in that match. Leigh Cowlishaw’s lineup choices will depend on what players he has available, particularly whether or not the on-loan players from D.C. United will be around for this game. Personally, I think that Long Tan will again be loaned to the Kickers for this match as well as most of the rest of the matches of the year, barring an injury crisis up I-95. Ethan White, however, is a bigger question; D.C. United’s starting right back, Robbie Russell, is injured and likely to be out for at least a month. United have only one true fullback on the bench, Chris Korb, and their emergency right back, Andy Najar, is currently in London with the Honduran Olympic Team. All of that is to say that I would not be surprised if United kept White at least until the Olympics are over.

With that in mind, here are my predictions for the starting lineup this weekend:

Johnson Kalungi Yeisley Goerres
Heins dos Santos Vercollone Fogelsong
Tan Agorsor

I know that Long Tan hasn’t been officially re-loaned to the Kickers, but I am thinking he likely will; if not, Matthew Delicate will start in his place. I am also hoping to get a look at Phillippe Davies in this game, especially if what has been said about him is true. Ideally, I would like to see him come in at around the 60th minute for Gerson dos Santos and keep the game from turning into the disjointed slog it was last week after dos Santos left.

As for a prediction? I am going to go with a 2-0 victory of the Dutch Lions, keeping the Kickers on track for a playoff spot. What do you all see?

Richmond Kickers find their footing against Pittsburgh

This was a game that the Richmond Kickers needed to win, a game that they needed to win exactly like this. After squeaking out 1-0 victories and 0-1 defeats, the Kickers dominated 3-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, controlling possession and putting up multiple goals in a win for the first time since the end of May. This result keeps the Kickers in a tie for sixth place, the last playoff spot, now with both the Charlotte Eagles and the Los Angeles Blues.

The central midfield partnership of Gerson dos Santos and Luke Vercollone was particularly strong, controlling the tempo of the game and keeping the ball away from Pittsburgh. Vercollone plays like he always does, flying around the field and breaking up play. However, he never does so too aggressively or with too much passion, something from which Mike Callahan could stand to learn. Dos Santos is not an attacking midfielder in the traditional sense, but he drops back to pick up the ball and plays more of a deep-lying playmaker role. His effect on the game was even more clearly felt when he was taken out, as the game shifted into a disjointed slog for the last 20 minutes.

Other than a ten minute span in the first half, the Kickers dominated play. The first goal came off of a dos Santos free kick, which he placed on the head of Yomby William in the 37th minute. William, other than that goal, had a poor game: more often than not, his clearances would go 40 feet vertically and only 10 feet laterally, allowing Pittsburgh to retain possession. With Henry Kalungi coming back after a red card suspension, I would rather see Jason Yeisely or Shane Johnson partner with him. The second goal was ruled an own goal after the game, but it was Christopher Agorsor that made it happen. Agorsor was lively all night and was able to bounce a shot off of the back heel of Hunter Gilstrap into the goal.

After dos Santos was taken out, the game settled into more of a defensive battle, with neither team having many opportunities in the opponent’s box. The final goals came on penalties, with the first converted by Matthew Delicate after Luke Vercollone was cut down in the box. Just three minutes later, Stanley Nyazamba committed a foul in the box that former New York Red Bull Matt Kassel converted.

The Kickers had two on loan players start this game, Ethan White and Long Tan of D.C. United. With the USL roster freeze quickly approaching, I asked the Kickers General Manager, Shelley Sowers, about whether White and Tan would be eligible to come back to the Kickers. She said that since they been signed before the freeze, the would be eligible to play in the rest of the Kickers’ games this season. Good news for D.C. United fans, as it will give these two players some much needed game time. The Kickers are back in action this Saturday, at City Stadium in Richmond, against the Dayton Dutch Lions at 7pm.

Richmond Kickers vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds Game Thread

I know that you all missed me these past two weeks; I missed you too! Surprise of all surprises, the Richmond Kickers had two 1-0 games since I last talked to you. One was a victory against the LA Blues, while the other was a loss to the Wilmington Hammerheads. A lack of multi-goal games has been a theme for the Kickers this season, and one that leaves them tied for the very last playoff spot.

However, tonight’s opponent is the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, who are currently 6 points behind the Kickers and gave up 3 goals in their last match. If ever there was a time for a rebound win, especially at home, this would be it.

However, the Kickers have some reinforcements for this game. Ethan White and Long Tan have been loaned from D.C. United to the Kickers for this match, and club legend Mike Burke has been persuaded to come out of retirement and help with the rest of the season. And as I write this, the Kickers have announced the signing of midfielder Phillippe Davies, most recently with the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 team, which plays in the USL PDL. All look to be available for tonight’s game, but which will start? Find out below.

Game Time: 7:00pm

Video: As with all Kickers home games, there is no streaming.

Lineup: Averaging out the past two matches leaves me with a lineup like this:

Goerres White Yeisley Vercollone
Heins Dos Santos Callahan Fogelsong
Delicate Tan

As for the newcomers, I expect Ethan White and Long Tan to start. Tan is the first Chinese player in MLS and is a speedy and creative forward. However, he was traded to D.C. United after a fallout with the Whitecaps front office over playing time. With only one game in town, Tan would be a good bet to give Agorsor at least a little rest. I do not expect Mike Burke to get many starts, especially not right now; he’ll be more of a late game assassin, whipping in deadly free kicks.

Phillippe Davies could be a surprise starter in the center or on the right wing, but I would see him most likely fitting into Gerson Dos Santos’s attacking midfield spot. Benjamin Massey, who writes about the Vancouver Whitecaps for SB Nation, describes him as such: “Quality. Central playmaking MF who can also go down right wing. Not much of a shooter. Really improved defensively in 2011.” Massey also thinks that Davies could be a leading USL Pro player quickly. I wouldn’t mind seeing him start that journey tonight.

Prediction: Nothing less than 3 points is acceptable. 2-0 win for the Kickers, with goals from Delicate and Tan.

What are you drinking: No drinks tonight, as I am in the press box. However, I have a nice Alewerks Brewery (formerly Williasmburg Alewerks) witbier waiting for me at home.

As for all gamee, I’ll try to get a live blog going after the jump. Feel free to join in!

Continue reading Richmond Kickers vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds Game Thread

Richmond Kickers to get Ethan White and Long Tan on loan

D.C. United announced today that they are loaning out defender Ethan White and forward Long Tan to the Richmond Kickers for tonight’s match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. By now, Ethan White is a familiar face to many Kickers fans, playing both as a right back and as a center back. His loan is especially needed, with Shane Johnson still out, Henry Kalungi serving a red card suspension, and Yomby William not playing well. Long Tan was recently acquired by D.C. United in a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps and is known as a speedy and creative player. He could either serve as a second half substitute or start and give Christopher Agorsor a break.

There will be more information later tonight as I make my triumphant return to City Stadium and the press box. Look for the match thread around 5!

Richmond Kickers vs. Rochester Rhinos Game Thread

Welcome again from beautiful City Stadium in Richmond, Va.! It is a lovely sunny day just south of Carytown, and a lovely day for the Richmond Kickers to take on the Rochester (Ragin’) Rhinos. As I mentioned in my previous post, the Kickers need a good result to get back on track for the playoffs, and the Rhinos will be itching to move into second place and past the Charleston Battery.

This game features the return of D.C. United on loan center back Ethan White as well as long lost defender Henry Kalungi. The Kickers defensed got shelled against the Rochester Rhinos, so these two players will be a welcome addition. It will also allow Jason Yeisley, who has filled in well at center back, to move back up to forward and provide a target forward alongside Christopher Agorsor. I’m excited to see how this pairing works!

Gametime: 7:00pm

Video: No streaming video for this game; if you’re not here in Richmond, follow my updates!

Lineup:Here is the lineup for tonight (all the players will be right, but their positions might be a little sketchy as their weird on the lineup card):

Goerres White William Kalungi
Heins Callahan Dos Santos Vercollone
Yeisley Agorsor

Prediction: 1-0 is the Kickers vintage recently, so I’m going to go with that.

What are you drinking? Mountain Dew, as I’m in the press box today. What are you all drinking?

There will be game updates after the jump, so feel free to follow along! (and join in!)

Halftime: The Kickers have played fairly well so far, and the presence of Henry Kalungi on the back line and Jason Yeisley up top have been two of the big reasons why. Yeisley has been the big body necessary to partner with Christopher Agorsor; while not seeing much of the ball, he has given Agorsor the space to make his darting runs. Kalungi has provided some much needed stability to a back line that has been in flux all season.

On the other hand, Agorsor has been bright but largely ineffective so far. He has had incisive runs, but his crosses have been lacking. Also disappointing was the fact that Gerson dos Santos had to leave in the middle of the first half. He was having a good game, and so I would think that he must have picked up a slight knock to get taken out so early. Yomby William still seems to be getting back into mental fitness, as some of his clearances and some of his decisions have been poor.

When in possession, Richmond was able to get it into the attacking third easily, but crosses from Agorsor and Heins were lacking. If they are able to find Yeisley, I think there is at least one more goal in store.

Continue reading Richmond Kickers vs. Rochester Rhinos Game Thread

Richmond Kickers 1-4 Charlotte Eagles: Kickers collapse in the second half

After getting four points in their last pair of back to back matches, the Kickers go on the road to North Carolina and lose both games, including a 4-1 loss to the Charlotte Eagles. This currently leaves the Kickers in sixth place, the last playoff spot, and having played three more games than the team directly above them and directly below them. After walking the tightrope for the past few weeks, the Kickers have finally fallen off.

This game started brightly, as many Kickers games do, with Christopher Agorsor scoring in the 19th minute. Gerson dos Santos played Agorsor through as he was able to slot the ball past the Eagles’ keeper. The Eagles scored five minutes later, with Nate Thornton burying a rebound. However, it was in the second half that the wheels really came off, with the Kickers giving up three goals in the last 25 minutes. The Kickers went down 2-1 in the 65th minute, but were still able to create chances, including a Yomby William header that was blocked off the line. The real dagger came in the 86th minute when Miguel Ferrer scored the third goal.

While the defensive struggles are new, this game does highlight a disturbing trend: the Kickers, besides Christopher Agorsor, cannot score goals. Agorsor has five goals so far this year, David Bulow has three, and no one else has more than two. Bulow’s contributions have been somewhat interesting: he has the second most goals on the team but often only features as a late game substitute. Hopefully as the center backs heal and return from international duty, Jason Yeisley can feature more in the attack and be the target option to Agorsor’s speed.

Also of interest in the state of the defense since Shane Johnson has been injured. Ethan White was brought in for the weekend from D.C. United to try and replace Johnson, but performed poorly in the first game and was an 89th minute substitute in the second. In this match, Yomby William returned to partner Jason Yeisely, and the Kickers gave up the most goals they have allowed all year. When Johnson is healthy again, I expect to see him challenging William for the starting spot alongside Henry Kalungi.

This weekend, the Kickers face the Rochester Rhinos at City Stadium and then have a week off to rest and recover. Hopefully they can right the ship at home, and I plan to be in the press box covering it for you.

Richmond Kickers fall to the Wilmington Hammerheads

The last time that the Richmond Kickers scored more than one goal in a game, it was against these same Wilmington Hammerheads in City Stadium, with two goals scored in extra time. Since then, the Kickers have just one goal per game, but were able to win two and tie one. With a new defensive combination in this match, one featuring D.C. United’s Ethan White, the Kickers looked a little shaky. White has featured in only one competitive match this year, the US Open Cup game against the Kickers, and it showed. In one mental lapse, White was caught in possession 40 yards from goal and got his pocket picked, leading to a break that Jason Yeisley had to step in and fix. He is better than this and hopefully with one game under his belt, his communication will improve and he will show what he can do against Charlotte.

In the first half, Richmond was able to start the scoring early. Sascha Goerres fed Christopher Agorsor at the top of the 18, and Agorsor was able to beat his man and chip the ball home. Eight minutes later, however, Corey Hertzog (on loan from New York Red Bulls) whipped a long throw-in into box; Andriy Budnyy was able to rise above everyone else and nod the ball home. Ronnie Pascale had no chance on the header, which needed to be headed away. 15 minutes after that, the Kickers were called for a handball in the box and Corey Hertzog put home the penalty.

In the second half, Richmond was able to stay on the front foot, keeping the majority of the possession, but were unable to break down Alex Horwath. Robert Fogelsong and Luke Vercollone combined well down the right side to whip in crosses; when they were taken out, Stanley Nyazamba stepped up to provide that service. The Kickers forced four saves, but were unable to get one past Horwath.

It was good to see Yomby William make another appearance, even if it was only in the 88th minute. Hopefully he will be pushing for a starting spot come next week’s home game, after Ethan White heads back to the District; Henry Kalungi’s return would also be welcome. Before all of that, the Kickers take on the Charlotte Eagles, who are only three points from the bottom of the table. Three points would put the Kickers back on the right track. There is no video for tonight’s game, so I’ll try to cobble together something from Twitter and other video. See you tonight in the game thread!

Richmond Kickers at Wilmington Hammerheads Game Thread

The Kickers come in on a hot streak, and look to continue that tonight against the Wilmington Hammerheads, in North Carolina. However, they are boosted by the fact that a number of players are getting healthy, returning from national team duty, or have just been loaned in. The fact that Yomby William and Henry Kalungi have returned, as well as the addition of Ethan White for the weekend, helps both the back line and the attack, with Jason Yeisley available to return to the front line. This team just keeps finding a way to win, and with more of their ideal lineup back, I think that they can do it again.

Game Time: 7:30pm

Video: This game can be found streaming online at uslnation.com.

Lineup: Ethan White is the temporary new feature for the Kickers back line, and he will be slotted in immediately. I don’t think Yomby William or Henry Kalungi will start yet, but either could come in for Shane Johnson.

Goerres Johnson White Vercollone
Edcock Dos Santos Nyazamba Heins

Prediction: The way that the Kickers have been planning recently, I am going to go with a 1-0 victory.

What are you drinking: Going to eat Mexican food tonight, so probably a margarita. What are you drinking tonight?

Halftime update: Wilmington leads the Kickers 2-1 at halftime, with a goal off a long throw-in by Corey Hertzog and a PK converted by Hertzog. Perhaps the Kickers are missing the defense that has brought them here, with Shane Johnson out injured today. Hopefully they can turn it around in the second half.

64′ Kickers on the front foot, putting a lot of dangerous balls in. Both Fogelsong and Vercollone on the right said have looked especially dangerous.

67′ Hiroyama, Nyazamba, and Elcock come in for the Kickers.

70′ Ethan White gets caught in possession, and it leads to a turnover and break.

73′ Nyazamba gives away the ball leading to a break, but Pascale is able to smother Hertzog for a big save.

76′ Elcock heads the ball off the line! Kickers need to get back on the front foot, they’ve been pushed back recently.

79′ Ross MacKenzie has come in. As a note, all times are approximate: there is no clock on the screen.

86′ Hammers goalie makes a good save, and a corner kick ensues.

89′ Yomby William makes another appearance, coming in for Dos Santos. Right after coming in, he runs onto a ball and hits it just over the bar.

90′ Good flurry of shots, but nothing goes in.

90+’ Full time: Wilmington 2:1 Richmond. Full report will come  tomorrow morning, but feel free to leave your comments here!

Ethan White loaned to the Richmond Kickers for the weekend

As I briefly mentioned on Black and Red United, central defender Ethan White has been loaned to the Richmond Kickers for this weekend’s two games against Wilmington and Charlotte. White has been recovering from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and has not featured for United in league play so far this season. Kickers fans may recognize him as he started for D.C. United in this year’s US Open Cup match in City Stadium. White is both fast and physical as a center back and he 21 matches in MLS last season due to injuries. He decided to have surgery in March rather than putting off to the end of the season, and is now ready to feature again; however, with three healthy center backs in front of him, he needs playing time elsewhere.

He should start both games this weekend and give the Kickers’ central defenders some much needed rest while give White some much needed playing time. Henry Kalungi has been gone with the Ugandan National Team, which tied both of their World Cup qualifiers to sit in second place in their group; he may be back with the team this weekend, but likely will not start. Yomby William is working back into fitness after being injured for the past month or so, entering the last game in the 71st minute. Shane Johnson and Jason Yeisley have filled in admirably, but getting Yeisley back up to the front line will allow Leigh Cowlishaw more options in the attack.

If I had to predict right now, I would say that it would be Johnson and White starting in central defense, with Kalungi coming back for next weekend’s game in City Stadium. It is a good move for the Kickers, allowing them to plug a hole in the back line and rest some players who have played basically every minute the past month.

SEQ: Can Ethan White Play Right Back?

Sometimes, I am amazed at what search results bring people to my humble site. And since people are wondering, I will try to respond to their search engine questions in a (possibly) recurring segment. The first is related to United’s recent roster turmoil: Can Ethan White play right back?

The apparent answer is no, not really. At the 2011 MLS Combine, White did play some right back. However, he did not seem to perform well, according to Joe Mauceri. Here is a quote from Joe’s blog:

Ethan White – started as right back, but wasn’t successful, allowing too much space to the wide attacker.  It only got worse with a hand ball that could have been the second PK called against him for the second day in a row.  White lost Rowe which led to a goal.  White needs to think quicker (further ahead) to prevent problems.   White is better in the middle – and I suggest that he won’t see the right back position very soon in an MLS game.

I am sorry, anonymous searcher. It does not look like Ethan White will be starting on the right anytime soon, which means that nor will Perry Kitchen be starting for Clyde Simms.

UPDATE 7/4: Joe Mauceri writes in to say that this is actually from a U-20 camp that occurred around the MLS camp.