Henry Kalungi loan deal to the Carolina Railhawks finally complete

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.

Matthew Delicate to leave the Richmond Kickers

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.

Mike Callahan to join the Carolina Railhawks on loan from the Richmond Kickers

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.

Richmond Kickers’ Nate Robinson to go on trial in Finland

Despite it being the USL Pro offseason, there is never a lack of news in Richmond Kickers land. It come out today that Kickers starlet and USL Pro Rookie of the Year Nate Robinson will be going on trial in Finland, via his twitter page:

This trial comes after training stints with D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. In addition, Kickers’ captain Henry Kalungi recently announced that he will be  going on loan to the Carolina Railhawks for the rest of their fall season. It is always good to see Kickers players getting chances in other leagues, even if it means that they might not be back to help the Kickers in the following season. I will keep you updated on the progress of these situations, to see if anything happens from them.

Kickers offseason roundup, part 1

Welcome to our first installment of the Kickers offseason roundup, where we tell you what has been happening since the season has ended and get you ready for 2013!

The first bit of news from the Kickers offseason is that Shane Johnson, standout centerback, has been resigned to a multi-year deal. On the surface, this seems a little strange to me; Johnson played  very well throughout his first season, besides when he was injured, and he could be in line  for a move up the ladder in the coming years. Although it is rare, players have made transfers directly from the lower leagues of American soccer to MLS; the more typical route is that an out of contract player gets offered a trial and then signs with an MLS team. For an example, Osvaldo Alonso, currently a fixture of the MLS Best XI team, had his rights purchased by the Seattle Sounders from the Charleston Battery. But playing time is key and Johnson will definitely get playing time in Richmond. In a few years, he may be moving up.

A second bit of news is that the Richmond Kickers will be holding open tryouts in February and March. Unlike MLS, which holds a draft in January, USL Pro (and NASL, for that matter), allow teams to sign whichever players they can get. For the Kickers, these tryouts have produced such notable names as Ronnie Pascale and Clyde Simms. These sessions will take place after the USL Combine, which takes place in Bradenton, Florida, January 24-27.

Finally, a number of key players have retired. As was well expected, Ronnie Pascale has officially retired, having been a mainstay with the Kickers for the past 12 years. In addition, midfielder Nozomi Hiroyama has also announced his retirement. And while it has not been announced, I would expect Mike Burke to return to retirement after having been called back during a shortage of midfielders. That is a lot of experience leaving the team, and we wish them all the best in their furture endeavors.

Keep your eyes open for more offseason USL news, coming next week, which includes expansion and a rumored MLS-USL partnership.

Richmond Kickers vs. Dayton Dutch Lions Game Thread

The Richmond Kickers are back in action tonight, and Matthew Delicate has a chance to eclipse Rob Ukrop’s club record for goals scored. Both sit on 63 goals for the club, but unless Ukrop gets in a time machine, it will be Delicate’s record soon. Doing so in front of a home crowd, in a much needed win, would be an appropriate way to pass the club legend (and president). The Dutch Lions are coming off of a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Wilmington Hammerheads last night, with the Kickers coming off a convincing 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds last weekend.

Every point is important now, and getting 3 of them at home is critical for the rest of the season. The Kickers are in a dogfight now, and they are competing with 5 times for three playoff spots. They haven’t missed the playoffs since 2003 and doing so this year would be a disaster. I know that I keep harping on this, but it is true; this is a team that is used to being at the top of the league. If they can build off of last weekend, however, the team is in a good position for a late season run that cements their place in the playoffs. Here’s hoping, anyways.

Game Time: 7:00pm

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

Lineup: With no news about Long Tan or Ethan White so far, I am adjusting the predicted lineup as though neither of them will be available. That gives us something like this

Goerres Kalungi Yeisley Johnson
Heins Dos Santos Vercollone Fogelsong
Delicate Agorsor

Prediction: As with last week, nothing less than 3 points is acceptable. 2-0 win for the Kickers, with goals from Delicate (breaking the Kickers all-time scoring record) and Vercollone.

What are you drinking: No drinks tonight, as I am in the press box. However, I have whiskey of some sort or another waiting for me after the game..

As for all game, there will be live blogging after the jump. Feel free to join in!

Continue reading “Richmond Kickers vs. Dayton Dutch Lions Game Thread”

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!