The 21-year-old was a vital member of the Kickers’ engine room
USL League One announced on Wednesday that Richmond Kickers’ midfielder Ethan Bryant is the league’s Young Player of the Year after the 21-year-old enjoyed a breakout campaign in his first full season with the club.
Bryant earns the distinction as one of the brightest young talents in the league after putting together one of the most underrated midfield performances in 2022. He is also the first member of the Kickers to win Young Player of the Year.
“I am very honored to be recognized by the league for this award,” Bryant said. “It was a goal of mine since the start of the season. As a collective, we had a successful season. When the collective flourishes, so do individuals.”
In the center of the park, Bryant helped pull the strings for the Kickers’ record-setting offense that saw him rank second on the team in chances created with 30, second on the team with five assists, and tied for sixth on the team with three goals.
“I am very happy for Ethan as he worked incredibly hard over the past 18 months and was a huge part of our attacking core this year,” Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky added. “He has had a different pathway to the professional game than most players in the United States and, after having a couple years of hardship, he rekindled his fire and it showed for us this year. He is mature beyond his years and his future is bright now that he is firing on all cylinders.”
Bryant enjoyed a number of signature performances that included a brace of assists on June 1 against Chattanooga Red Wolves SC when he served up two balls on a platter from the left corner that earned the Kickers a 3-0 win. His first two goals for the Kickers came 10 days later against Charlotte Independence when he recorded a first-half brace in a 4-0 rout.
“I feel like I have continued to improve in my performances as the season went on,” Bryant said. “I am thankful to have a club that believes in me during the good and the bad moments.”
Bryant’s third goal of the season proved to be an exclamation point during the Kickers’ nine-match unbeaten streak to finish the season. Against Central Valley Fuego FC on September 27, Bryant ripped off an outside-of-the-box strike that knocked the dust out of the right-hand side of the net.
A tenacious player with a veteran presence despite his age, Bryant was a nuisance in the middle of the park, winning the third-most fouls on the team with 32 while only conceding 10 fouls and picking up a single yellow card.
“Right now it feels like we came a little short of our goal, but with time, we will be able to look back on this season and be proud of what we accomplished as a team and as individuals,” Bryant concluded.
As the Kickers prepare to defend their regular-season title in the 2023 season, fans can now place deposits for 2023 season tickets. Fans can do so at richmondkickers.com/seasontickets.