On a humid Saturday night in Richmond, the Kickers took on Toronto FC II and won. TFCII’s MLS parent club is enjoying a banner season, but they find themselves at the bottom of the USL table along with Richmond. Both teams came out attacking, recognizing an opportunity to bag three points against a struggling opponent. Whoever won the day would leapfrog the other from last place in the standings.
Travis Worra made his first start in goal for the Kickers this season, and he added energy to the position while helping orchestrate the defense. He made five saves on the evening.
Still, the defensive troubles for Richmond seemed to continue as TFC II went up early. In the 4th minute, Braeden Troyer was called for a foul on Oyvind Alseth, though upon closer inspection it seemed to be more of a case of tangled feet. The ensuing free kick came from near the right corner spot and was sent in low. It led to chaos in the box, and somehow Canadian national team player Jordan Hamilton ended up on the end of it. He struck a low shot to the corner and put Toronto ahead.
Richmond immediately answered. Returning to his right back role, Alex Lee came running up the right side and crossed to Sunny Jane. Jane arced a header on target and keeper Angelo Cavalluzzo could only tip it into the crossbar. The ball bounced across the goal line, giving Richmond a quick equalizer.
Worra denied Toronto a second goal in the 16th minute. Richmond left too much space in central midfield and Mitchell Taintor was allowed to trot towards goal and pick his man. He found Malik Johnson in the box, who cut inside and fired a shot at the near post. With the setting sun in his eyes, Worra dove to his right and held the ball.
The second half saw Richmond grab the go-ahead goal they desperately needed. Franck Tayou came on for Yudai Imura, and the gamble paid off. In a similar setup to the first goal, Braeden Troyer sent in a long ball from the back and found Tayou, who demonstrated good hold up play. A tough Toronto tackle sent the ball to the feet of Matt Bolduc, who made a clever first touch past his defender and struck the ball on target. It deflected on the way in, putting Richmond ahead 2-1.
The goals were both Jane and Bolduc’s first of the season, and they helped break Richmond winless streak. Earlier this week Richmond cut ties with forward Anthony Grant, opening up the starting role to Jane, Tayou or Luiz Fernando. It’s yet to be seen whether Tayou, who found success in professional indoor soccer, can last an entire 90 minutes in USL.
The Kickers’ three-week home stand ends this Saturday against their old rivals, Charleston Battery. Richmond needs to keep the momentum going with only eight regular season games left.