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.