Late drama dooms the Kickers chance at points

In the 81st minute, right after Jason Yeisley scored the Richmond Kickers second goal against the Rochester Rhinos, my mind started to look forward to where the Kickers would be in the table. 15 minutes later, after yellow cards, red cards, and two more goals, the Kickers are worse off than when the started the game. Starting keeper and assistant coach Ronnie Pascale put it best: this team is in a dogfight with eight teams fighting for six playoff spots.

The first half was fairly calm and orderly, with the Kickers having most of their possession in the Rochester half. Their first goal was also fairly typical: Christopher Agorsor made a run towards the endline, crossed it back to the middle of the box, and Luke Vercollone made a late run onto the ball and slotted it home. It was also typical in the fact that the Kickers scored it in the first ten minutes. For all of their other problems on offense, they have at least been able to get out in front of teams early. In the 27′ minute, however, Rochester was able to equalize. Graciano Brito was able to rise up over a Kickers defender to head the ball past Pascale.

The second half was a completely different beast, one where the referee lost control of the match from the beginning whistle and was never able to get it back. Within the first five minutes of the half the two teams were up in each others’ faces, requiring the refs to separate them. Mike Callahan of the Kickers and Tyler Rosenlund of the Rhinos were constantly talking and yelling at the refs, at the other teams, and at each other. Callahan in particular could have received a red card; after receiving a yellow for a hard tackle late in the first half, he let his frustration boil over at the ref in the second and Vercollone had to drag him away before Callahan could receive a second yellow. Callahan also got into the face of an assistant referee for a non-call on a ball he thought went over the line and should have been called a corner kick, and kept arguing with that AR after he had been taken out for Matthew Delicate.

Right after Callahan had been taken out, however, is when all hell broke loose. Rochester broke on the counter and the entire back line of the Kickers, as well as Ronnie Pascale, thought that the decisive through ball was offsides. It was not called, and JC Banks blasted it into the upper 90 to give the Rhinos a 3-2 lead. The entire team was up in the face of the ref, who gave Ronnie Pascale a yellow card and gave Stanley Nyazamba a straight red. In the few minutes that remained, Rhinos keeper Kristian Nicht was also given a yellow for time wasting.

This result leaves the Kickers in 6th place and the 7th place Harrisburg City Islanders are one point down with two games in hand. This is going to be a dogfight for the rest of the season to see if the Kickers are good enough to make it into the playoffs. I’ll be back later in the week with some player ratings for this game.

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