Sometimes it takes a rival to bring out what’s best in us. After the 2013 USL Pro playoffs and an opening to their 2014 campaign that left many questioning whether the Richmond Kickers could compete with the best in US Soccer, the club came out on Wednesday looking to dominate. It just so happens that they did not have to go far to find someone to take out their frustrations on.
In the first-ever Richmond derby, the Kickers defeated their in-town rival, RVA FC of the NPSL, by a score of 6-1 in the second round of the US Open Cup at Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond, Va. With the win, they move on to host four-time US Open Cup champion New York Greek American Atlas SC in a Round 3 match at Richmond City Stadium on May 28.
At the beginning of the first half, the Kickers tried to pressure the young RVA FC defense with several good possessions built through the midfield. Kickers midfielder George Davis IV orchestrated their attack going inside in the 17th minute then pushing the ball out to midfielder Sacha Gorres. However, RVA defender Garrett Harvey to use his body separate Gorres from the ball and make the decisive clear. The Kickers combination of Davis IV and Gorres would test the Virginia Commonwealth University defender throughout the entire 90 minutes with Harvey staying relatively composed.
Despite having constant pressure, the RVA defense held strong at the beginning of the first half and would use the counter-attack on several occasions. In the 20th minute, RVA midfielder Todd Wharton made an excellent cross into open space for midfielder Justin Grove. However, Gorres intercepted the pass intended to shift the field of possession before any attack could begin.
While the NPSL champions did have their opportunities early in the first half, the Kickers dominated play as the game went on. In the 24th minute, Kickers defender Alex Lee hit a cross on the right hand side into midfielder Samuel Asante who headed the ball down and past RVA goalkeeper Bill Groben to give the Kickers the early advantage.
The Kickers would add to their lead in 34th minute when midfielder Shay Spitz would convert off of a rebound on a shot originally taken by Asante. Groben made an excellent reaction save but unfortunately had no assistance from his defense to clear it out. Instead, Spitz was there to tap the ball into the back of the net.
Richmond would add another goal late in the first half when forward Jason Yeisley scored off of a rebound on a good save by Groben. Groben had a very good first half, making several excellent stops and giving the RVA defense some respite between Kickers attacks. However, the lack of communication between himself and his defense hurt them in this match.
The Kickers would continue their dominance of RVA right into the second half. In the 61st minute, Kickers forward Tishan Handley would connect off of a long cross by Davis IV and go right past RVA defender Zach Carroll and Groben to give the Kickers a 4-0 lead.
RVA would try and strike back in the 62nd minute when midfielder Ryan Zinkhan made a pass on the outside of his foot to forward Manel Bel, whose shot went just wide of Kickers goalkeeper Joe Willis. Willis, who won a US Open Cup title with DC United last year, would then get the ball out to the Kickers midfield who would deliver yet another cross to Handley. Handley would once again get past the RVA defense and give himself a brace, upping the lead of the Kickers to 5-0.
Johnny Orlando of RVA made a slight dent into the Kickers lead with his goal 65th minute. However, the Kickers would get their five goal advantage back when Davis IV would score in the 88th minute to seal the Kickers victory by the score of 6-1.
For the Kickers it was a rare offensive explosion in the tournament. The 6 goals was the most they had scored since their 8-4 barnburner with the Ocean City Barons (now Ocean City Nor’easters) in 2005. It also marked the club’s first game, and win, against a NPSL side.
FULL MATCH REPLAY