Richmond's road trip through the Northeast continued Saturday at Red Bull Arena. The Kickers hadn't secured an away point since April 1st, and D.C. United loanees Miguel Aguilar, Jalen Robinson and Luke Mishu were there to help get them back on track. Following a relatively quiet first 45, the 2nd half saw each team grab a goal, with Brian Ownby finding an equalizer for Richmond in the last minute of regulation.
New York Red Bulls II were coming off a road win against Pittsburgh Riverhounds, a game which ended in a bizarre exchange between Karl Ouimette and Romeo Parkes. As a result, Parkes was released from the Riverhounds and suspended for the season by the USL. New York meant to put that behind them. With a win against the Kickers, they could tentatively secure first place in the Eastern Conference.
New York dominated possession early, but Richmond played a high line to keep pressure on the Red Bulls. The Kickers absorbed the New York attack and were stout in their defense. Robinson and Mishu played center and right back, respectively. In the 16th minute, Richmond captain Mike Callahan went down with a leg injury and was subbed off for Fred Owusu Sekyere. The fast midfielder has yet to start a game, but he's seen minutes in every match this season.
In the 20th minute Aguilar danced around the Red Bulls defense on the right side and took a strike at goal, coming close but hitting the side netting. On the other side of the field, Robinson looked impressive in confidently stopping a New York counterattack, stealing and clearing the ball to safety.
Though New York controlled most of the possession, the Kickers looked confident in the back third. They absorbed pressure and consistently thwarted attempts from the young New York team to break through. In the 32nd minute a Red Bulls corner looked dangerous as Brandon Allen and Braeden Troyer tangled up going for the ball. Allen went down in the box, but referee sided with Troyer and play was stopped. Minutes later Allen made a strategic pass to Anatole Abang just outside of the Richmond box. Thankfully he was called offside, though his shot ricocheted off the Richmond crossbar.
In the 42nd minute, Imura made a beautiful switch to Aguilar on the right side, whose through ball to Jason Yeisley would have resulted in a Richmond corner. A questionable offside call returned possession to New York. In the dying moments of the first half, New York's Konrad Plewa had a shot off the right post from 35 yards out, rattling the woodwork and keeper Matt Turner.
Early in the 2nd half, Aguilar took a dangerous free kick that fell to Yeisley. The initial header bounced around the box, and Yeisley attempted a bicycle kick when the ball came back his way. New York answered with a cross in front of goal that Allen got a boot to, but a waiting Matt Turner denied him. Aguilar made another fine looking cross in the 54th following a Richmond throw-in. His pass found an open Luiz Fernando on the far side of goal, who sent it to the top of the box to a waiting Sekyere. His ensuing shot passed over the bar.
One minute later, Imura and Sekyere came off for Brian Ownby and Lucas Paulini, which proved to be a critical call by coach Leigh Cowlishaw. Ownby immediately saw action, going up for a Samuel Asante-provided header in the box. New York keeper Ryan Meara punched the ball out, finding Ownby's face in the process. The veteran Richmond midfielder went down hard, pleading with the referee for a call that never came.
The stalemate was broken in the 67th minute when Hugh Roberts had to hustle back to collect an awkward back-pass from Paulini. Roberts stumbled just outside the Richmond box and was dispossessed by the recently subbed-on Stefano Bonomo. The ensuing New York cross found Junior Flemmings, whose shot pummeled the left post. Anatole Abang was there for the rebound and from such close distance he buried the ball into the Richmond net. With only twenty minutes left to play, the Kickers had their work cut out for them.
On the attack in the 70th minute, Ownby found Yeisley who nearly had the equalizer with a header on goal. In the dying moments of the half, Ownby made the difference. Pushing forward, Richmond veteran right back Alex Lee sent in a perfect cross to Ownby. The ball was flicked on at the near post and past Meara evening the score at 1-1.
Though only able to secure one point out of two games on the road, Richmond hung tough versus a stout New York Red Bulls II. The Kickers return home Wednesday, May 18, to begin their U.S. Open Cup campaign at City Stadium. Their next league match is Saturday, May 21, against conference leaders Louisville City FC.