Richmond failed to nab all three points against a 10-man, bottom of the table Toronto FC II squad Wednesday afternoon. Still, the 0-0 draw earned them another point on the road and extended their unbeaten streak to four. In those four matches they’ve only scored two goals, with five goals total on the season. However, their defense remains strong, having only conceded seven goals so far this year.
Coach Leigh Cowlishaw started two new forwards to help push the attack against TFC II. Oliver Minatel hails from Brazil and previously played for C.D. Nacional of the Portuguese Primera Liga and Ottawa Fury FC. Former Virginia Tech player Mikey Minutillo joined the lineup as well having spent time with San Jose Earthquakes U23 and Faroe Islands Premier League club 07 Vestur.
Chris Durkin travelled with the Kickers and joined the defense. Coming off the CONCACAF U17 championship game in Panama, Durkin looked confident and sharp on the ball. The Kickers started five defenders this match, but of those Durkin, Braeden Troyer and Alex Lee all pushed forward to aid in the attack.
The first thirty minutes saw a lot of back and forth play but not many opportunities for either side. Richmond nearly broke the deadlock in the 28th minute. Raul Gonzalez drew a foul and used his ensuing free kick to send in a dangerous cross into the penalty area. Minatel broke free of his defender, but his header was directed right at Toronto keeper Matt Pais who made the save without issue.
Durkin made his presence known in the 41st minute. A strong challenge from him midfield gave the ball to Gonzalez waiting at the top of the box, and his shot was barely kept out by a fingertip save from Pais. The ensuing corner was headed up inside the penalty area, and Durkin was there to make an accurate header on target which forced another good save from Pais.
Minutillo looked for his first Richmond goal just after the half. He drove in towards the Toronto box and passed to an open Samuel Asante, who then sent the ball out wide. An accurate cross into the danger area found Minutillo, who fought off his defender and got a foot the ball. Unfortunately for him it was the wrong foot. He missed a first touch strike, and instead the ball bounced off his planted foot. Still, it beat the keeper, and just barely rolled right of the post.
Toronto went down a man in the 60th minute. Alex Lee and Anthony Osorio (who had just subbed-on one minute before) got tangled up fighting for the ball down the right side. Lee’s leg was pinned and he struggled to get up. Osorio kicked at Lee to push him away, and referee Silviu Petrescu saw enough maliciousness in the act to show a straight red card. Off went Osorio without much argument.
Richmond stepped up their attack, but even with a flurry of corner kicks, they never really threatened outside of a Murillo strike straight at the keeper in the 77th. Even with a strong midfield and wingers, the revolving door of strikers in Richmond is keeping the squad from gelling. They don’t seem to be on the same page, though the talent is there. Cowlishaw is destined to keep searching until things start to click.
Hopefully that will be the case this Saturday, May 27, on the road against Ottawa Fury FC. The Fury are low on the table, though they defeated Richmond at City Stadium last month. The 2:00 p.m. game will be shown on local Richmond network CBS 6 and streamed online at uslsoccer.com.