The Richmond Kickers dispatched Orlando City B during the second leg of a home-home series Saturday night. After coming back to earn a point on the road in Florida last week, Richmond looked for a strong performance at home to solidify themselves in the top of the group. They found an unlikely hero in Scott Thomsen, whose 2nd half goal was his first of the season and the only score of the game.
Going into the match, five USL Eastern Conference teams were within five points of each other, meaning the coveted top four playoff slots are up for grabs. Richmond needed a win to distance themselves from the pack and lock up a postseason appearance. Bolstering the starting lineup were D. C. United's Miguel Aguilar and Andrew Dykstra, both making an impact on the game. Former United midfielder and now Orlando Academy coach Lewis Neal joined Orlando’s starting eleven.
Richmond and Orlando deadlocked for most of the match and chances were few and far between. Still, Richmond had a solid opportunity in the 8th minute when Samuel Asante found space up the right side and sent in a dangerous low cross in front of goal. No one could get on the end of it, and Aguilar and Thomsen connected on the left side to send the ball back into the danger area. Orlando was able to clear it away and play continued.
Possession was fairly even going into the half, and Richmond only saw three shots to Orlando's two. After the break, though, Richmond pressed to find the coveted three points at home. In the 59th, Aguilar collected a through ball up the left side and cut in towards goal. At a very difficult angle, he fired an impressive shot on goal which was only stopped by a heroic header from Kyle Callan-McFadden.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 76th minute when Alex Lee sent in a long ball to the far side of the Orlando box. Sprinting to get on the end of it was Scott Thomsen, formerly of the New York Red Bulls program and University of Virginia standout. Thomsen struck with his first touch, and the ball deflected off Callen-McFadden. With the deflection, the ball rolled slowly into the net, but goalie Mark Ridgers was off his line and the strike put Richmond up 1-0.
Orlando attacked relentlessly in the last few minutes to find the equalizer, and only the skills of Dykstra kept them from doing so. In stoppage time, Tyler Turner got on the end of a cross in the box and headed the ball towards the far post. Dykstra had to stretch out and dive to his right, getting a hand on the ball and deflecting it just wide of goal to the relief of the home fans.
Just before the final whistle, Richmond legend Mathew Delicate came on for Anthony Grant, his first time on the pitch following a battle with cancer. Delicate still holds the scoring record for Richmond with 94 goals over a ten year career.
With the 1-0 win, Richmond locked up a spot in the playoffs and further consolidated their position in the top four of the table. Rivals Charleston Battery return to Richmond this Wednesday, August 31, for a rescheduled match against the Kickers. Next weekend, Richmond heads out on the road to face tough opposition Louisville City FC. The two fought to a draw back in May. Even with a difficult schedule ahead, Richmond is riding a ten match unbeaten streak, eight of those being wins.