The Kickers enjoyed a record-setting on their way to their first regular-season title since 2013
TAMPA, Fla. — USL League One announced on Thursday that Richmond Kickers’ Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky is the league’s Coach of the Year after the club earned its first regular-season title in nearly a decade.
Sawatzky earns his first Coach of the Year award nearly three years from the day of his appointment as Kickers’ gaffer which took place on November 6, 2019.
The Kicker’s 2022 season – its 30th season in succession continuing its streak as the longest, continuously operating professional club in the country – marked the third season with Sawatzky at the helm alongside Head Assistant Coach Mika Elovaara and Goalkeeping Coach Akira Fitzgerald as the team reached its next important milestone in rebuilding the Kickers back to being a recognizable stalwart in US Soccer.
After two straight winning seasons and the Kickers’ first playoff appearance since 2016 during Sawatazky’s second season, the Roos claimed the regular-season title with a game to spare in the midst of a nine-match unbeaten streak which was the longest unbeaten streak for the Kickers in the USL League One era. The team scored the most goals in league history (54) and tied for second in most points earned in a single season (51).
The team finished 14-7-9 with a plus-19 goal differential while conceding the second-fewest goals in the league. It marks the club’s best win total since 2013 and the highest goal differential since 2014.
“I work with some great people in Richmond and, on behalf of the technical staff here, we are grateful to work in the game we love,” Coach Sawatzky said. “To be recognized by our peers after a very competitive 30-game regular season is amazing. To see players reach personal goals and to see the team find consistent form was great.”
Under Sawatzky, the Kickers produced two Most Valuable Player nominees in Emiliano Terzaghi and Jonathan Bolanos, the Young Player of the Year Recipient in Ethan Bryant, a Goalkeeper of the Year nominee in Akira Fitzgerald, and a Defender of the Year nominee in Jalen Crisler. Additionally, Bolanos, Terzaghi, and Crisler were named to the USL League One All-League First Team, and Fitzgerald was named to the All-League Second Team.
Leading the charge for the Kickers’ historic offense was Terzaghi who claimed his third-straight Golden Boot title with 17 goals and Bolanos who was the league’s Assist Champion with a new single-season record of 11. Terzaghi and Bolanos also both represented the Kickers as Player of the Month, Terzaghi in August and Bolanos in September. Terzaghi was also nominated for Player of the Month alongside Fitzgerald in April while Bolanos was nominated in June.
Additionally, the Kickers received 39 placements on the league’s team of the week during the regular season.
“We have worked hard to create a good culture of winning here in Richmond,” Coach Sawatzky said. “We knew it would take time, but three years of work was reflected in a regular season title and an opportunity in the playoffs. We will continue to work and build for our community. Thank you to everyone that supported us this year.”
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.