With their final home game of 2017, Richmond broke their season attendance record averaging 4,500 fans per match, signifying a growing supporter base for soccer in central Virginia. But the crowd of 6,500 wasn’t enough to will a win, and the Kickers fell 1-0 to Orlando City B. The game was mostly a stalemate, with Orlando grabbing the go-ahead goal in the 80th minute. Travis Worra started for Richmond, earning two saves on the night.
The Kickers’ lineup suffered a blow in the 19th minute when striker Oliver Minatel went down with a hamstring injury. Faced with an early substitution, Coach Leigh Cowlishaw elected to send in Mikey Minutillo, a newer signing who’s seen some success in recent games.
Richmond’s Sunny Jane dazzled the home fans with a stellar set piece just before halftime. Tony Rocha tripped up Jane just outside the Orlando penalty area, earning himself a yellow card and giving the Kickers a golden opportunity. Jane took the kick, bending the ball over the wall and to the right side of goal. Keeper Jake Fenlason had to make a diving save, but his effort kept the score level at 0-0.
Orlando is a team on the rise in the USL, but their playoff position isn’t a lock, with the middle of table remaining tight in the eastern conference. They helped punch their ticket with a late goal. Hadji Barry drove up the middle of the field and sent the ball wide to Michael Cox while continuing his run. Cox maintained possession to the touchline and passed back to Barry, who made an impressive strike as the ball came across his body. With a first touch, he beat Worra near post and put Orlando ahead 1-0.
Richmond wasn’t aided by the ejection of central midfielder Oscar Umar in the 90th minute. Following a cleared long ball, Umar came sliding in studs-up against Rocha to try and regain possession, sending the Orlando player to the ground. Referee Jose Lara reached for a straight red card, dooming any realistic chance for the Kickers to get back into the game.
With the loss, any mathematical hopes for Richmond of making the playoffs are over. There are still two away matches left in the season, as the Kickers still face Louisville City FC and Saint Louis FC on the road. A perennial leader in the USL, Richmond hopes to grab a few more points for the sake of pride and staying off the bottom of the table.