RICHMOND, VA – (Thursday, April 27, 2017) – The Richmond Kickers travel to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies this Saturday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. The match will be broadcast live from Al Lang Stadium on USLsoccer.com/match-center and locally on the CBS 6.3 subchannel, found on Comcast 206 and Verizon FiOS 466.
The Kickers face league newcomers Tampa Bay for the first time in club history, after the Rowdies joined the USL following a six-year stint with the North American Soccer League (NASL).
Last time out, the Kickers snapped a three-game winless streak with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Following an hour-long weather delay, Kickers midfielder Raul Gonzalez found Fred Owusu Sekyere at the top of the six-yard box where he tapped in a 15th minute goal. Forward Alhaji Kamara doubled the score in the 46th minute when a deflected free kick fell to Kamara who scored from point blank range. Pittsburgh pulled a goal back to avoid the shutout in at the hour mark but the Kickers weathered the late offensive pressure to solidify the much-needed three points at City Stadium.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay dropped a 3-2 loss to the Charleston Battery last week. The Rowdies claimed an early lead when Joe Cole converted a rebound in the 34th minute but quickly conceded the equalizer six minutes later. Charleston earned the advantage just before the halftime break but George Hristov tallied his team-leading fourth goal to level the score in the second half before Charleston’s heartbreaking 89th minute game-winner left the home side empty handed.
Saturday’s match is the start of a two-game series between the two teams, and they will swap home-field advantage on June 17 at City Stadium. Following this matchup, the Kickers return to City Stadium to face FC Cincinnati and the Bark and Brew Craft Beer Fest on Saturday, May 6.
Players to Watch:
Kickers: Midfielder Raul Gonzalez (#27) made his first start on April 22 and was Richmond’s most involved player, making an immediate impact and assisting on Fred Owusu Sekyere’s 15th minute goal. The Ocean Springs, Mississippi native recently concluded his collegiate career at the University Memphis where he racked up 13 goals and 13 assists in 65 appearances over five seasons. Fred Owusu Sekyere (#4) scored his first goal of the season on April 22 after assisting on the first goal of the season back in the March 25 opener. He has appeared in all five games, starting four, and leads the team with five shots on goal. The Ghanaian has amassed more than 3,800 minutes over three seasons with the Kickers, logging seven assists in 2015. Defender Braeden Troyer (#31) leads the team with 13 tackles this season and has started in four of five games, going the distance in all four appearances. The Columbia, South Carolina native first impressed the Kickers at the 2015 Pro Combine, earning his first professional contract and leading the team to nine shutouts in his debut season.
Rowdies: Forward Georgi Hristov (#10) scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season on April 22, ranking third in the USL. He also leads the team with 13 shots including six on goal and one assist so far this season. The 2013 Golden Ball honoree is in his fifth season for the Rowdies where he has scored 37 goals over 111 appearances, logging over 6,900 minutes with team. Defender Luke Boden (#14) has played all 540 minutes for the team and leads the Rowdies with 383 passes. The Sheffield, England native is in his first season with Tampa Bay after spending six seasons with Orlando City in both the USL and the MLS. He scored six goals over 141 appearances, logging over 12,000 minutes for the Florida club. Midfielder Joe Cole (#26) scored his second goal of the season on April 22. He is second on the team in shots on goal (6) and second in passing accuracy at 88 percent. The London native is most known for his time at prestigious Premier League side Chelsea where he made 182 appearances, scoring 28 goals for the West London club. He began his career at West Ham United and has also spent time with Liverpool, Ligue 1 side Lille, and Aston Villa.
Bark & Brew Craft Beer Fest at City Stadium May 6
The Richmond Kickers return to City Stadium on Saturday, May 6 to host the Bark & Brew Craft Beer Fest. The party starts at 5:30pm with live music by the Back Seat Drivers, pet-centric vendors, RVA food trucks and over 15 craft beers and ciders on tap before the Kickers battle FC Cincinnati at 7pm. Bark & Brew Craft Beer Festival tickets, which include admission and drink tickets for two, are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.