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Richmond Kickers fall to FC Montreal at home

A young FC Montreal squad delivers Richmond their first loss at City Stadium

James Loving

Facing a team yet to gain a single point this season, Richmond looked forward to hosting FC Montreal at City Stadium Saturday night. Montreal is a young, inexperienced squad with plenty of pace but not a lot of form. Richmond would control much of the possession, but it was on speedy counterattacks that Montreal dashed the Kickers' hopes of an easy three points.

Yudai Imura started wide left, the position traditionally held by a resting Brian Ownby. Richmond was out for blood early with Luiz Fernando off to the races down the right side in the first minute. He sent in a pass to Sunny Jane whose touch on target only found the waiting hands of keeper Maxime Crepeau. Jane had another chance on goal with a header that sailed wide-right just two minutes later.

Opportunities to get on the scoreboard came thick and fast early, with Imura having a header on target and Jane rattling the crossbar in the 12th minute. Crepeau had a fantastic 1st half with several saves and confidently coming out of goal to collect the ball.

It was literally the hottest game of the season so far, and with a Montreal player down in the 35th, both teams headed towards their respective benches for a hydration break. The referee was slow to start play back and allowed the teams to grab water. Even in the heat, Richmond was dominant and pressured Montreal. However, with so many chances not finding the net, opportunity for Montreal to find a successful counterattack grew. Richmond had five shots on goal to Montreal's zero in the first half.

As night fell and temperatures cooled, the action really picked up in the 2nd half. A quick counterattack would see the first goal of the night. Following a Richmond corner, Montreal pressed down the field in a three-on-three situation. Samuel Asante, sprinting to get between the goal and the Montreal charge, overran Alessandro Riggi, stuck out a leg and brought him down. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and called penalty to the dismay of the fans.

Charlie Horton dove left, but Riggi buried the shot to the right of goal. His was only the fourth goal of the season for Montreal. Horton rebuilt his confidence in the 55th when he blocked a swerving shot from distance.

Coach Leigh Cowlishaw immediately made a change to restore the Kickers' attacking presence. Sunny Jane and Luiz Fernando came off for Anthony Grant and Brian Ownby. Imura found himself with space on the left side in the 63rd minute and sent in a perfect cross to Jason Yeisley. The ensuing header was nearly the equalizer, but bounced harmlessly off the left post and was cleared by Montreal.

Things got worse for Richmond in the 75th. Even with plenty of Kickers in the box, midfielder David Choiniere fainted to the outside but turned towards the touchline. He cut back, passed to an open Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla, whose postage stamp shot found the top right corner of goal.

A minute later, Richmond was awarded their own penalty kick. After the restart, Braeden Troyer sprinted up the left and sent in a cross to a waiting Brian Ownby. He headed the ball back into the box to Anthony Grant, whose shot came off the arm of Thomas Meilleur-Giguere. Penalty was called, and Richmond looked to cut Montreal's lead in half. It wasn't to be.

Yeisley took a long, stutter-step run from outside the box, but the attempt went straight at the keeper. Asante had the rebound, but Crepeau again kept the ball out of goal. Tempers boiled over in the 80th minute as both Asante and Choiniere connected with high kicks going after an Ownby header. Asante made more contact with the opposing player than the ball, and the Ghanaian midfielder was shown a straight red card. The teams had a scrum in the middle of the pitch but defender Hugh Roberts stepped in to wisely break things up.

Down to ten men, Richmond faced a tough climb to get back to even. Though understaffed, most of the play was in the Montreal half as Richmond controlled possession. A scary moment occurred in the 85th minute as a Montreal clearance rocked the back of Yeisley's head. The striker, plagued by concussions in the past, returned just in time to help with the Kickers' only goal of the night. A long ball form Charlie Horton found Anthony Grant, who sent Ownby through with a header. Ownby had the defense beat and buried his third goal of the season.

Imura nearly had the equalizer from thirty yards out in the 89th minute, but his shot sailed just wide of goal. Even after seven minutes of stoppage time, Richmond couldn't find an answer and suffered their first defeat at home this season. Their next match is this Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the 3rd round of the U.S. Open Cup. League play continues June 4th at FC Cincinnati, a team setting attendance records and only two losses so far this season. Richmond will have to bounce back on the road in a tough atmosphere.