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Kickers Take the Trip to Tormenta Saturday

By Patrick Wood and Nathan Heintschel, 08/30/19, 9:00AM EDT

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Watch Live from Erk Russell Park on WTVR CBS 6.3 and ESPN+ at 8PM

RICHMOND, Va. – (Friday, August 30, 2019) – The Richmond Kickers (6-10-4) will look to start a new unbeaten streak Saturday night on the road at South Georgia Tormenta FC (8-6-8) at Erk Russell Park. Watch the match live on WTVR CBS 6.3 (Comcast 206, Verizon FiOS 466) and streaming online on ESPN+ when the match kicks off at 8:00 p.m.

This will mark the third and final meeting this season between the two clubs. Both teams battled to a 0-0 draw in the first meeting between the two sides at City Stadium April 6. Akira Fitzgerald made three saves in that match to earn his first clean sheet of the season. The second match came back on June 22 at Erk Russell Park, with the home side taking a 1-0 win after a penalty was called late in the match. Marco Micaletto converted from the penalty spot in the 84th minute after Wahab Ackwei was called for a foul on Lucas Coutinho inside the box.

Richmond looks to get back to their recent form after falling on the road to Forward Madison FC last Saturday night. Just before halftime, Maxi Rodriguez looked to be the hero for Richmond. Scott Thomsen sent in a long free kick into the Madison box. Connor Tobin rose to try and head the ball out of danger, instead putting it right to the feet of Josh Hughes. The Kickers midfielder tried for a shot, but he did not get a clean hit on the ball. Rodriguez was there to put it past Brian Sylvestre as the referee called the goal back for offside. Madison scored the game winner in the 74th minute. Christian Diaz played the ball ahead for JC Banks. He slipped it through for Paulo Jr. as he took a quick pass to get it back for Diaz in front of goal. He just needed to redirect the ball into the back of the net.

Tormenta is in the midst of a six match winless streak, most recently coming off a rough 0-5 road defeat at the hands of the league leaders, North Texas SC Tuesday night at Toyota Stadium. North Texas took a 3-0 lead into halftime behind goals from Bryan Reynolds, Richard Danso and a converted penalty kick by Ricardo Pepi. Things did not get better for Tormenta as Gibran Rayo added a fourth goal in the 82nd minute. Pepi once again scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time to seal the three points for the home side.

The Kickers return home to RVA Saturday, September 7 for their third and final clash with Greenville Triumph SC and Cider Fest, presented by Bon Secours. The gates open up at 5:30 p.m. with live music from the Back Seat Drivers. Happy Hour is extended until 7:00 p.m. with half off all ciders and craft beers. Richmond takes the field at 7:00 p.m. to face Greenville as both teams will compete for the newly announced Bon Secours Cup. The series is level as both sides claimed 1-0 victories in Greenville. Get your tickets now at RichmondKickers.com

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Richmond: Midfielder Ryley Kraft (#98) made his debut for the Kickers in the 80th minute last week against Forward Madison FC. The former USYNT player recorded 100 percent passing accuracy in the opponent’s half in his short time on the pitch. With another week of training with the team under his belt, Kraft will look to make an even bigger impact in Southern Georgia. Defender Wahab Ackwei (#18) returns to the starting XI after fulfilling his one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation. The Ghanian has been one of the best defenders both for the Kickers and in the league. Currently, he ranks seventh in the league with 73 clearances and he will look to stifle Tormenta after a week off. Goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald (#1) continues to be one of the top keepers in the league with six clean sheets and 47 saves -- both ranking fourth in the league. Fitzgerald shutout South Georgia during their first meeting and was nearly able to shut them out a second time before Tormenta was awarded a late penalty late in the contest. Surely disappointed from the last outing down south, Fitzgerald will be firing his backline up for the match so that he can bring in bagels to training next week as is his custom when the team earns a clean sheet.

Tormenta: Goalkeeper Pablo Jara (#1) has been a closed vault so far for the Richmond attackers and has held the Kickers scoreless in the opening two matches of the series between the two clubs. Of course, he’s been a difficult keeper to get past for many of the teams in the league as he is tied for second in USL League One in clean sheets with nine and fifth in the league with 44 saves. Midfielder Marco Micaletto (#10) scored the only goal in the series between the two clubs so far after he converted a penalty late to break the all but certain scoreless draw and steal three points in the second meeting. Micaletto is currently tied for sixth in the league with seven goals and surely will be looking for the back of the net. Defender Conner Antley (#3) has proven his versatility in the back of the Tormenta backine. He currently leads his team with five assists while ranking third in the league. His ability to play the ball forward will require the attention of the Kickers attackers.