After struggling on the road, the Richmond Kickers dispatched Toronto FC II with a 1-0 win at City Stadium Saturday night. Following two straight losses, Richmond sought to get back on track and secure points against a competitive opponent in TFC II. An early Brian Ownby goal gave them the chance to do so. Even with a record of 1-1-2, Toronto had scored the opening goal in every one of their games this season. Richmond put an end to that streak.
They had to do so without top scorer Yudai Imura (out with a hamstring injury) and keeper Ryan Taylor. Taylor tore his ACL and MCL last week after falling awkwardly on the wet pitch in Charlotte. He's out for the rest of the season, with the Kickers only backup keeper being Academy Player Sawyer Gaffney. Considering D.C. United's own issues at the keeper position, Richmond turned to New England Revolution backup Matt Turner to fill the void. Turner would make five saves for the Kickers, helping the team secure the win while earning his first professional clean sheet.
Richmond took the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Jason Yeisley up top. From left to right, Brian Ownby, Sunny Jane and Luiz Fernando fanned out behind. Even without Imura, the Kickers controlled much of the possession early in the match, the culmination of which was the only goal of the evening.
An Alex Lee throw-in bounced to a covered Yeisley, whose shot deflected off Toronto defender Skylar Thomas. The ball floated to the feet of a sprinting Brian Ownby who lobbed it over the head of keeper Alex Bono. It was a pair of firsts: Yeisley's first assist of the season and Ownby's first goal.
Richmond continued to press after going ahead and enjoyed a strong attack up the left flank. Left back Braeden Troyer carried the ball into the Toronto half, passing the ball off to Ownby. The veteran midfielder found Sunny Jane open at the top of the box. Jane took a crack but his shot passed over the bar. He looked confident all night but was unable to recreate the magic of his game versus Charlotte last week.
Things got chippy as Toronto's frustration grew. In the 17th minute, Adam Bouchard got into it with Ownby, pulling him to the ground as Ownby cut around. In a bizarre event, Richmond defender Hugh Roberts had his jersey ripped off in the 20th minute while trying to make space during a corner kick. He had to wear the #32 for the rest of the game.
It wasn't long before TFC II tested Turner. The interim keeper made two saves back to back, the first coming from Salvador Bernal Flores in the 31st minute. Another save from Malik Johnson's set piece in the 33rd minute grew Turner's confidence.
The first half ended quietly and Richmond looked to extend their lead after the break. In the 52nd minute, Fernando cut across field and sent in a pass with pace to Jason Yeisley, who's effort rattled the left post. Just a few minutes later, an Ownby tackle stole the ball from the Toronto defense, and again Fernando played an accurate pass. This time Ownby was on the receiving end, and his attempt drifted just wide of goal.
Turner's solid performance continued in the 62nd minute when a Toronto corner drifted to a dangerous position on the far post. Able to get a glove to it, Turner pushed the ball away to his waiting defense. In the 80th, a TFC II cross swung in by midfielder Bryan James was punched away as well. Toronto couldn't find an answer, and after two minutes of stoppage time, the Kickers walked off triumphant.
The confidence and energy from Turner and the Kickers come at the perfect time. From here, the schedule becomes grueling with five games in two weeks. Richmond hosts the 2-2-2 Wilmington Hammerheads FC May 7 followed by a rematch with Toronto May 11. The U.S. Open Cup kicks off for Richmond with second round play at City Stadium May 18.