Charles Boateng of the Richmond Kickers celebrates one of his four goals against Virginia United in the First Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography
The 1995 US Open Cup champions Richmond Kickers, a professional side from USL League One started off the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 6-2 victory against amateur side Virginia United.
Striker Charles Boateng led from the front in the opening round of the US Open Cup, grabbing four goals before having to be subbed off due to injury. The remainder of the Richmond Kickers’ score line came from striker Daniel Jackson and midfielder Eli Lockaby.
Boateng became the first player to score four or more goals in a US Open Cup game since Dom Dwyer scored four goals for Sporting Kansas City in the Fifth Round of the 2015 US Open Cup in a 6-2 win over FC Dallas. Boateng becomes the 12th player in the Modern Era (1995-present) to score four or more goals, and is just the third Richmond Kicker to score a hat trick in tournament play, joining McColm Cephas (2005 Round 3) and the Kickers current head coach David Bulow (2011 Round 1).
Charles Boateng of the Richmond Kickers shoots against Virginia United in the First Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography
The scoring began in the 17th minute when Lockaby held up the ball on the right wing and played it across to Boateng who scored his first career US Open Cup goal. His second goal came from a set piece when Joe Gallardo received a short pass from a corner kick and found Boateng right in front of the goal for the brace.
A dominant, possession-based performance is what described the Kickers’ in the first half while Virginia United struggled to cross half-field, save for a few defensive clearances.
After Lockaby and Jackson scored their goals on either side of halftime, the Kickers were in complete control of the match with a 4-1 lead. United’s only goal of the first half came from Eliot Martinez.
Boateng got his hat trick in the 55th minute when he was the beneficiary of a forced turnover. Justin Grove played a ball in behind the defense and the Ghanian beat the keeper from 30 yards out. With the goal, he became just the second Ghana-born player to score a hat trick in the Modern Era of the tournament, joining Kwadwo Poku who scored three goals of the Georgia Revolution (NPSL) in the opening round of the 2013 tournament.
The fourth goal would arrive in the 75th minute when Luke Pavone played a ball into Boateng who beat the keeper to become just the 12th player in the Modern Era to score four or more goals in the tournament.
“It’s going to be difficult for a team [Virginia United] that doesn’t get to train 4-5 days a week,” said Richmond head coach David Bulow. “We are also three months into the season and they are just getting started with theirs, so I think it was always going to be a challenge for them, organization-wise, dealing with what we do to them.”
United wouldn’t go out without a fight as Bernardo Mejano hit an impressive stoppage time half-volley from outside of the box in second half stoppage time.
The Richmond Kickers will be advancing to the second round of the tournament to play North Carolina FC away at the Saglen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. NCFC, who are a USL Championship team. Right now, North Carolina is in fourth place, just four points back from first place in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s going to be a challenge, NCFC looks like a good [USL] Championship team,” said Bulow, who is tied for the second-most US Open Cup goals scored in the Modern Era with 13. “Playing away from home, it’s a step-up in level, playing in the division above us. We’ll be the underdogs. Much won’t be expected of us but we’ll relish that challenge.”