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Richmond Kickers 4:1 Icon FC: Kickers roll on the strength of their second half explosion

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The Richmond Kickers really turned the screws in the second half, cruising to a 4-1 victory over Icon FC and setting up a rematch with D.C. United next week.

Pattie Anderson

This second round matchup in the centennial edition of the US Open Cup pitted the Richmond Kickers against Icon FC, who beat the Brooklyn Italians to get to the River City. The Kickers put out primarily a first choice lineup, partially out of necessity (four of their six loanees were claimed by their parent clubs for US Open Cup purposes) but partially on purpose. The Kickers looked less than impressive in their most recent league match, against the Los Angeles Blues, and so getting those players back on track may have figured into coach Leigh Cowlishaw’s plans as well.

The first half went according to this season’s script for the Kickers: start out slow but take control as the half wears on. That script manifested itself in Argjent Duka, Dilly Duka’s older brother, scoring an easy goal in the 9th minute. But a mere two minutes later, the Kickers woke up and scored, with Joseph Ngwenya dribbling, spinning, holding the ball, and laying it off to Stanley Nyazamba, who easily scores. Richmond went ahead 14 minutes later, when Ngwenya was cut down in the box and the Kickers were awarded a penalty kick. Ngwenya took it himself and sent the keeper the wrong way.

The second half began frenetically, with the Kickers pushing Icon FC back into their own box and serving in ball after ball; when Icon could break out, they went end to end in an entertaining first 15 minutes to the half. But the game was over at the 60 minute mark, with Mike Callahan taking a shot that took a wicked deflection off of Teddy Niziolek and into the goal. Joseph Ngwenya was given an assist on the goal (which will likely be changed to an own goal) and then was immediately subbed off. The wind was immediately taken out of the sails of Icon FC and both teams slowed the pace of the game down. The Kickers got a fourth late in the game, with Stanley Nyazamba curling a beautiful shot into the upper corner of the goal.

Danny Szetela was not able to affect the game that much, as he was constantly under pressure by the Kickers duo of Luke Vercollone and Mike Callahan. Two players that did stand out for Icon were Jonathan Yazo, a winger who is going to the New York Cosmos in the fall, and Argjent Duka, the goalscorer and older brother of Chicago Fire midfielder Dilly Duka. You wouldn't think that they were an amateur side, but were still no match for one of the top tier teams in USL Pro this season.

The man of the match for this game is Joseph Ngwenya, who has remade himself as an attacking midfielder instead of being the target forward he has been for most of his career. He was initially credited with two assists (one may be taken away for an own goal) and scored on a penalty kick. This means that D.C. United will visit Richmond next Tuesday to take on the Kickers in the third round of the US Open Cup. MLS loanees Brian Ownby (of Houston Dyanmo), Taylor Kemp, Casey Townsend, and Conor Shanosky will all be held out so that they can play with their MLS sides, while Andrew Dykstra and Michael Seaton will play for the Kickers.