In stark contrast to what happened in the District tonight, the Richmond Kickers were able to string long spells of good possession together and combine it with strong counterattacking play to beat the defending USL Pro champion Charleston Battery 4-1 on a beautiful night in Richmond, Virginia. The Battery’s attack was frenetic, playing at high speeds but not often to control the obvious offensive talent that they have. The first Kickers goal came in the 23rd minute off of a break, with Joseph Ngwenya of all people during well to dribble through the Battery defense before laying off the ball to Alex Lee, the overlapping fullback. Lee crossed the ball back to the head of Ngwenya, who chipped it over the keeper and in. The next goal came nine minutes later from a run by Brian Ownby, the Houston Dynamo loanee. Ownby was able to make it to the endline and hold off a Battery defender; his cross went right to the top of the six yard box, where Casey Townsend was able to slot the ball home.
The third Kickers goal was started by a marauding run forward by Taylor Kemp. Kemp cut inside to the top of the 18 yard box and was able to take a shot. The rebound fell to Nyazamba, who crossed it to the top of the six yard box where Townsend was again able to take advantage and put the ball away. The last one was an own goal, created off of a Kickers corner; it hit the leg of Cody Ellison and dribbled into the goal. The only Battery goal was from D.C. United alum John Wilson.
My man of the match had to be Casey Townsend, who was asked to play the loan forward and help others into the attack. A few times he was able to post up opposing defenders and knock the ball down, but more often he would get wide of the Battery’s defense and receive long balls on the wing, playing in his teammates from there. His two goals were typical poachers’ goals, both created by Townsend standing near the top of the six and putting home anything that came his way. He should have received a yellow card when he got into a shoving match with a Battery defender, but the ref decided against it after consulting with his assistant. Luke Vercollone, who only rejoined the Kickers this week, captained the team and played well in his defensive midfielder role breaking up play and keeping the ball moving all night. Other players of note included William Yomby, who played well next to Conor Shanosky in center defense and intercepted or blocked anything that came his way, and Brian Ownby, who took some of the pressure off of Townsend and gave the Kickers another creative offensive force.
Taylor Kemp played well both offensively and defensively, with his run forward creating the third goal for the Kickers and the second goal for Townsend. Defensively, he was in good positions to block crosses and cut down angles, with his only mistake being a defensive header that he missed to allow the Battery to continue an attack. Conor Shanosky has good moments and shaky moments in center defense, but his mistakes are covered by William Yomby playing so well. Shanosky plays best when he is stepping up to intercept balls and then distributing out of the back. However, he can get caught out of position and then has to try and use his speed to get back. Overall, though, his play was solid enough against the frenetic attack of the Charleston Battery.
Andrew Dykstra has looked a little shaky in his first two matches with the Kickers. He has had an awkward punch here and there, along with a some bobbled saves that he has had to jump back onto. I’m not sure if its just the fact that he hasn’t had much time yet with his defenders (and he is not practicing with them), but he hasn’t really made any big saves yet. As he gets more comfortable with his defenders I imagine that these problems will fade.
The Kickers are back in action next weekend, again in City Stadium and against the Rochester Rhinos.