Photo: James Loving | Richmond Kickers
Richmond Kickers head coach Leigh Cowlishaw has said the team’s secondary goal in the US Open Cup is to bring an MLS team to Richmond. With the club’s 3-0 Third Round win over the NASL’s Jacksonville Armada FC that goal was achieved.
Richmond will now play host to the Columbus Crew in the Fourth Round. That game will be played June 17 at City Stadium.
Richmond had a chance to strike first when Fred Owusu Sekyere lofted a well-timed ball into Brian Ownby. The Kickers midfielder got on to the ball and broke towards the box sending a through ball in. Jacksonville’s Lucas Trejo defended the dangerous ball out, keeping the match scoreless.
Owusu Sekyere proved to be dangerous again in the 20th minute when his corner kick found the head of Ownby. The midfielder was able to launch the ball past Jacksonville’s Miguel Gallardo giving Richmond a 1-0 lead.
“I think there was a size mismatch, we had all our taller players in and their players were a bit shorter,” Ownby said. “So we definitely wanted to use our set pieces to expose them in the back and it worked.”
Armada FC was able to piece together a long attack in the Richmond end in the 37th minute. A misplayed ball ended in a turnover at the feet of Richmond’s Jason Yeisley near midfield.
“I knew they had a high line and he just got in and Jason’s got great speed and he’s a good finisher,” Ownby said. “I saw him get in behind, take a couple touches and I knew he was gonna bury it.”
The midfielder took the ball to the box 3-on-2 but called his own number, ripping the shot past Gallardo, doubling the Richmond lead.
At the break Richmond led in both shots (8-0) and corner kicks (3-0).
A Jacksonville foul in the box in the 50th minute gave Richmond their first opportunity in the second half. Midfielder George Davis IV capitalized on the chance blasting the kick towards the right of the goal beating Gallardo who guessed left.
The Jacksonville Armada had back-to-back shots from point blank range off the feet of Akiel Barrett and Jaime Castrillón. Kickers goalkeeper Ryan Taylor pushed both shots away to keep Richmond in front.
“[Taylor]’s come out big a few times this year and he keeps improving every day and that’s huge for us if we want to keep going,” Ownby said.
The two saves made by Taylor marked the only shots on goal from Jacksonville.
The Kickers performance was highlighted by an 11-5 edge in shots. Richmond also took more corner kicks (4-2) than the NASL side.
Up next is Columbus.
“We always want to compete against the best,” Cowlishaw said. “It’ll be a great night and there’ll be a big crowd for it and the atmosphere will be lively and we’ll be there to try and knock Columbus out. I’m sure they won’t be thrilled with the draw having to go on the road to City Stadium and we’ll be looking forward to it.”
This marks the fifth consecutive year the Kickers have advanced to take on an MLS side in the event. The Richmond club has lost its previous four matchups with teams from the United States’ top league.
“We’re gonna treat it like any other game and get to the next round,” Ownby said. “It’s just one game at a time and anything can happen. It doesn’t matter what level you are, obviously we saw that here tonight.”