Richmond remains fourth in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings after they fought FC Cincinnati to a 1-1 draw at City Stadium Saturday night. A second half goal from Sunny Jane was quickly answered by an impressive Andrew Wiedeman free kick late in the game. Several D.C. United loanees bolstered the Richmond starting eleven, including Miguel Aguilar, Luke Mishu and Andrew Dykstra.
In arguably the biggest game of the season so far for the Kickers, Richmond’s supporters "the Red Army" attended in force and the home side played with passion. With MLS aspirations, Cincinnati has a stacked roster and solid leadership under National Soccer Hall of Famer (and former United star) John Harkes. Both sides went into the game with aims of solidifying a top four place in the standings, which would secure a home playoff game this fall. As such, the match was hard-fought and both sides saw possession.
Dykstra was tested early in the 2nd minute when Cincinnati’s Austin Berry had a header that Dykstra tipped over the bar. Richmond’s stout defense stood strong and denied the away side from creating many more chances in the first half. Even against a tough side in Cincinnati, Richmond was on the front foot for most of the first forty-five and nearly took the lead just before the break. Yudai Imura collected a bouncing ball in the Cincinnati box and passed to Anthony Grant, who was able to strike a volley that rolled just wide of the right post.
Initially Cincinnati was on the attack after the half, but Richmond would strike first. Following a long ball from Dykstra, five quick passes resulted in Brian Ownby rushing up the left side and sending in a dangerous cross into the penalty area. Keeper Mitch Hildebrandt got a finger to the ball but was only able to clear it as far as the feet of Sunny Jane. He took a touch, cut the ball back, and fired a low shot through heavy traffic and into the net. Up 1-0 for the time being, Richmond’s win streak looked to continue.
Richmond had an opportunity to double their lead when Jane sent in a beaming cross towards Ownby in front of goal, but the pass had too much on it and Ownby wasn’t able to redirect it on target. Meanwhile, Mike Callahan came on for midfielder Fred Owusu Sekyere in the 70th minute to shore up Richmond’s defense, but unfortunately he committed the foul that led to Cincinnati’s equalizer.
Callahan, who has had a great run of form the last few weeks, gave away a pass in his own half in the 80th minute and raced to make amends. He caught up to Cincinnati midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin, but his tackle was hard and behind the ball. The result was a Cincinnati set piece 25 yards out from goal.
Dykstra coordinated a four-man wall and angled to his left, but Andrew Wiedeman’s kick bent around the wall and to the near post. His goal put the away side level with the Kickers, and the match would end in a stalemate.
With the draw, Richmond tentatively holds the fourth place rank in the USL standings. Rivals Charleston Battery are only two points behind with a game in hand. The two face each other this week as Richmond hosts Charleston Wednesday, August 17, and the home side has a lot to prove after falling to the Battery 2-0 on the road back in July. Though their winning streak came to an end, the Kickers remain unbeaten in seven matches and continue to create chances in front of goal. With seven games left in the regular season, they’re peaking at the right time.