Coming off a hat trick at Ottawa Fury FC last week, Alhaji Kamara and the Richmond Kickers couldn’t find the same goal-scoring magic against New York Red Bulls II at City Stadium. A first half New York goal made the difference as Richmond’s attacking woes continued. They’ve struggled to create the right combination up top, so Coach Leigh Cowlishaw elected to bench Luiz Fernando and moved Raul Gonzalez to the center to back up Kamara.
Richmond controlled possession much of the first half and had several chances in front of goal. The Fred Owusu Sekyere-Alhaji Kamara connection continues to baffle defenses and nearly got the Kickers out to an early lead. A through ball from Sekyere set Kamara up in front of goal in the 2nd minute, and his shot near post forced a diving save from Rafael Diaz.
A Richmond free kick in the 15th minute was taken by Gonzalez, who sent in a pinpointed cross to Kamara in the penalty area. Kamara got his head to the ball but couldn’t direct the shot on frame.
It was a Red Bulls counterattack that put the visiting team ahead. Against the run of play, quick, precise passes put New York behind the Richmond defense. Midfielder Derrick Etienne, Jr. got things started when he sent Vincent Bezecourt to the touchline. He passed in front of goal to striker Brandon Allen who’d worked his way between the Richmond centerbacks. He fired point blank shot past keeper Matt Turner, putting New York ahead 1-0 as the first half wound down.
Sekyere created a chance for Richmond in the 52nd minute when he was brought down by Kevin O’Toole to the left of the Red Bulls’ penalty area. His ensuing free kick was on target and forced Diaz to tip the ball over and out for a corner kick. Just three minutes later the New York keeper was tested again when Sekyere drove up the midfield and passed to Yudai Imura at the top of the box. Imura teed up his shot and put it on target, but the ball was pushed out wide by a diving Diaz.
In the 57th, Richmond’s fight for an equalizer didn’t let up, as Chris Durkin opted for a quick free kick to Samuel Asante sprinting up the right side. Asante sent in a bending cross to the far post which found Kamara. His header arced through the air and almost beat Diaz, but ended up sailing onto the top netting and out for a goal kick.
Though the Kickers pushed up to find a point, the Red Bulls effectively circled the wagons and stopped a myriad of Richmond chances at the end of the match. In another disappointing result, the Kickers played good soccer over the course of the evening, but goals win matches. With the 1-0 loss they fall to 2-6-4.
On a positive note, the popularity of soccer in Richmond continues to grow as shown by healthy attendance at home games. City Stadium saw 6,200 in the stands for Saturday night’s match.
Things won’t get any easier over the next two weeks. The Kickers hit the road again this weekend as they travel to South Carolina to face Charleston Battery, the oldest rivalry in USL soccer. They’ll return home June 17th when they hope to even the score with top-of-the-table Tampa Bay Rowdies at City Stadium.