RICHMOND, VA – (Tuesday, August 13, 2013) – The Richmond Kickers return to City Stadium for the regular season home finale this Wednesday, August 14 when they host a top of the table battle against the defending two-time Regular Season Champions Orlando City Lions. The winner-takes-all-match that will determine the 2013 USL PRO Regular Season title kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and the gates open at 5:30 p.m. with Happy Hour specials in the stadium’s outdoor bar, live music from Skipjack, games for kids and commemorative 21st Birthday cups, courtesy of Northwestern Mutual.
Tied at the top of the USL PRO standings with 51 points apiece, Richmond (14-1-9) holds the slight edge over Orlando (15-3-6) on tiebreakers following a stunning upset at the Citrus Bowl in June. Snapping Orlando’s 25-game regular season home unbeaten streak, the Kickers held the Lions scoreless as forward Michael Seaton and midfielder Brian Ownby tallied second half goals to open the home and away series with a 2-0 win. Previously, after handing the USL PRO powerhouse their first-ever loss in the 2011 season opener, the Kickers suffered three consecutive defeats to the Lions before stealing a point from the Citrus Bowl with a scoreless draw to close out the 2012 season, giving Orlando the all-time series advantage with a record of 2-3-1.
Both Richmond and Orlando enter the mid-week match up after picking up three points each over the weekend. The Kickers returned to winning ways and kept their unbeaten streak at City Stadium alive with a 5-2 win over the Dayton Dutch Lions. Matthew Delicâte and Ownby thrilled the season-high crowd with a pair of goals each with Nate Robinson adding a goal and an assist on the night to solidly the Kickers’ first-place position in the standings.
Meanwhile, Orlando remained neck-in-neck with Richmond after recording a 2-0 win over Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders FC Reserves. Midfielder Kevin Molino opened the interleague match with a first minute tally before defender Rob Valentino added his fifth goal of the season in the first half as the Lions posted their seventh shutout of the 2013 campaign.
Having met just once during the postseason, Wednesday’s match marks the first high-stakes clash between the two clubs, despite combining for seven Regular Season Championship titles (Richmond: 1995, 1998, 2001, 2006 and 2007, Orlando: 2011 and 2012).
Players to Watch:
Kickers: Veteran defender Sascha Görres (#23) moved into seventh place in the USL PRO Assists category with five on the season after recording a pair of assists against Dayton Saturday. In his ninth season with the Kickers, the player/assistant coach holds the club record for most consecutive games played, appearing in 107 successive matches. The Kickers all-time leading scorer, Matthew Delicâte (#7) recorded three goals in the last two games, including the game-winner in the club’s 5-2 win over Dayton last weekend. Now in his seventh season with the Kickers, Delicâte eclipsed the franchise’s all-time scoring record in 2012, notching 69 goals and 19 assists since 2004. Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra (#50) has backstopped the Kickers to nine of the club’s 10 shutouts this season and boasts a miniscule 0.900 goals against average through 20 appearances. On loan from D.C. United by way of the two clubs’ partnership agreement, the VCU product anchors the best defensive unit in the league that has allowed just 23 goals in 24 games.
Lions: In his third year with the Lions, Rob Valentino (#22) doubles as an offensive threat and a defensive force, notching five goals and two assists on the season, while shoring up one of the best defenses in the league. The 2011 USL PRO Defender of the Year had a one year stint with the New England Revolution, making his MLS debut against the Richmond Kickers during the 2008 U.S. Open Cup. Former D.C. United midfielder Long Tan (#23) also has Kickers ties, making one appearance on loan in Richmond during the 2012 season before signing with Orlando prior to the 2013 campaign. He has made 21 appearances with the Lions this season, tallying two goals and two assists for six points. Midfielder Kevin Molino (#18) notched his second goal of the season inside the first minute of play against the Seattle Sounders FC Reserves last weekend. The Trinidad & Tobago International signed with Orlando in 2011, claiming the USL PRO MVP award in 2012 after a standout season that produced seven assists and three goals en route to the Regular Season Championship.
USL PRO Playoff Structure
The Richmond Kickers will enter postseason play in the Quarterfinal Round on Saturday, August 24 at City Stadium. The 2013 USL PRO Playoffs will include the top eight finishers in the table (No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, etc.), with the Kickers first-round opponent to be determined. The Semifinals featuring the four remaining teams will be played the following weekend, with the 2013 USL PRO Championship set for the weekend of September 6-8. All playoff rounds feature a single-game knockout format and teams will not be re-seeded following each round.