As everyone knows by now, the Richmond Kickers will be D.C. United's USL PRO affiliate for the 2013 season, and possibly beyond. And what better way to inaugurate this relationship than by giving you a quick primer on our friends down I-95! If you have any further questions about the Kickers, let me know in the comments and we will find you the answers.
League History: The Richmond Kickers were founded in 1993 and played their inaugural season in the United States Interregional Soccer League. After the turmoil of soccer leagues starting and ending in the early and mid 1990s, the team ended up in the A-League, which had combined the American Professional Soccer League and the USISL. The team self-relegated from the USL First Division, the successor to the A-League, to the USL Second Division in 2006, and has remained on the third tier of the US Soccer Pyramid since then.
Silverware: 1995 US Open Cup, 1995 USISL Premier League Trophy, 2001 A-League Regular Season Title, 2006 USL-2 Regular Season Title, 2006 USL-2 Champions, 2007 USL-2 Regular Season Title, 2009 USL-2 Champions.
Coach and Director of Soccer: You already know this, but the coach of the Richmond Kickers is Leigh Cowlishaw, who has been with the team ever since it was founded in 1993. Cowlishaw retired due to failing knees in 1999 and took over the reigns of the club in 2000. This could be his last season as head coach of the Kickers, as he said in a recent interview that he wants to spend more time growing the Kickers organization as a whole.
Owner: Technically, the Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club, a 501c3 non-profit company, bought the team in 2009. However, Rob Ukrop is the primary figure behind all of it. Ukrop is locally famous as being a member of the Ukrop family of grocery store owner, which was recently bought out by Giant and turned into Martins. However, the Ukrop family business still makes all of the hot prepared food in the stores. Ukrop also played for the Kickers in the inaugural season and returned to the Kickers after a brief sojourn that included time with the New England Revolution.
Notable players: Some former Kickers whose names you might recognize include Dwayne De Rosario, Richie Williams, Clyde Simms, Bryan Namoff, Brian Carroll, and Mark Simpson. All told, there have been 22 Kickers players that have gone from the team to play in MLS.
Mascot: Kickeroo. Kickeroo is the kangaroo mascot of the Richmond Kickers. He been a number of different colors, including blue, then a dark reddish-brown, and now tan. Like most mascots, including Talon, he combines the strange and the delightful.
Stadium: Building a soccer specific stadium is one of the top items on their wish list, but City Stadium remains their home for now. City Stadium was built in 1929 and was originally the home of the University of Richmond Spiders football team; however, since 2009 the Kickers have been the only regular tenant at the stadium. It is mere blocks from one of Richmond's primary entertainment districts, Carytown. It is a little rundown and they do not currently sell beer at games, but it has air conditioning in the press box and a moon-bounce, two things that RFK does not have.
Academy: The Kickers are one of only two non-MLS teams to have its own Development Academy, the other being Orlando City SC. This means that they have access to the full gamut of resources offered by U.S. Soccer, they are on the 10 month schedule, and they play against other USDA teams, such as D.C. United's Academy. While there is no known direct relationship yet, having eyes on more youth players can only be a good thing for D.C. United.