After dropping their first two matches of the season, the Richmond Kickers are back on track with four points in the last two games. In both outings, goalkeeper Travis Worra was crucial to their success. With the partnership between Richmond and D.C. United extended for a sixth straight season, Worra and Bruno Miranda are expected to see playing time with the Kickers in 2018. Worra has already made an impact with six saves this week and three during the previous match.
In a snowy game that felt more like British weather than Virginia in April, the Kickers faced New York Red Bulls II, who were coming off a big win against Charleston Battery last week. The Kickers enjoyed their own win the previous week after coming back from a 1-0 deficit at the half to defeat North Carolina FC 2-1.
The Richmond lineup benefited from the recent folding of the NASL by picking up forward Brian Shriver from Jacksonville Armada. A former NASL Golden Boot winner and all around prolific goalscorer, Shriver has been involved in every Richmond goal this season but had yet to tally his own until Saturday. A beautiful free kick from Shriver in the first half gave him his first goal of the season and was a crucial one against a tough opponent in the Red Bulls.
Both teams struggled early to adjust the field conditions, as players slipped and stumbled on the icy pitch. In the 17th minute, Richmond’s Scott Thomsen was making a run up the middle towards the box when brought down from behind by Ben Mines. Shriver stepped up to take the free kick. He bent his shot around the New York wall, off the crossbar and into the net. It was the first time this season the Kickers scored first.
After the half, the Red Bulls were able to level the score, but not without a fight from Worra. A switch by New York in the 69th minute found plenty of room on the left side of the field for Benjamin Mines. He passed into the box, and Amando Moreno teed up Cristian Casseres. His shot saw a fantastic tipped save by Worra, but Casseres got on the end of his own rebound. He found Jose Aguinaga open in the middle of the box, and the midfielder made sure the second attempt hit the net. Worra was furious with the backline.
He was able to keep the score level with a big save in the 89th minute. Mines was again involved as he sent in a cross from the right side corner. Jared Stroud was in position and fired a shot on the volley. It forced Worra to ground, but his diving save locked up the tie. The Red Bulls squandered a free kick opportunity in stoppage time, and Richmond held on to earn a point.
Heading in the right direction and looking more confident, the Kickers hit the road against Louisville City FC next week. Unfortunately for Richmond, Louisville has won all three of their matches so far this season. The Kickers return to City Stadium to face struggling Toronto FC II on Wednesday, April 25th.