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Crisler Returns to Anchor the Kickers’ Backline

By Nathan Heintschel, Director of Communications and Digital Media, 01/11/22, 12:00PM EST


The veteran defender is set for a second season under Sawatzky

Photo © Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography | Illustration by Nathan Heintschel, Director of Communications and Digital Media

RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers are pleased to announce the return of Jalen Crisler after the veteran centerback’s contract option was picked up for the 2022 season.

“Jalen was a valuable leader in our group this past season as a constant on our backline,” Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky said. “He continually rose to the occasion when needed, and his growth was consistent over the course of the year.  We will look to Jalen as a veteran leader in the 2022 squad as we chase the postseason.”

Crisler was a constant for the Reds during the 2021 season as the Everett, Wash. native started 28 matches in the Kickers backline. His 2,432 minutes played ranked the highest of any outfield player on the team.

Photo © Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography

“I could not be more excited to be returning to Richmond for year two,” Crisler said. “The Richmond family from top to bottom is an organization that cares. I felt welcomed and trusted by the staff and organization from day one. They gave me an opportunity last year, and I can’t wait to represent the city of Richmond for another year and play in front of the best fans in the league.”
In his first season in the River City, Crisler was a part of a suffocating Richmond backline that finished tied for second in USL League One with 10 clean sheets. He was instrumental in negating danger in the penalty area as he ranked first on the team with a whopping 86 aerial duels won while finishing tied for first on the team with 33 blocks and finishing second on the team with 125 clearances.

On the attacking end, Crisler proved to be a threat on set-pieces thanks to his combination of size and positional awareness. This was best exemplified during the Kickers’ home match on June 19, 2021, when they hosted eventual title winners Union Omaha. Down a goal late in the second half, Zaca Moran served up a free kick from the left wing towards the far post. Crisler rose up above his marker and headed the ball on frame that ricocheted off an Omaha defender and into the back of the net for the equalizer.

Photo © Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography

Looking to build upon a strong first season in Richmond where he earned USL League One Team of the Week honors in Weeks 7 and 15 and helped lead the Kickers to its first playoff appearance since 2016, Crisler is hungry for more: “Last year we made strides as the year progressed, but the season did not finish as we had hoped,” Crisler said. “I am very excited for us to continue to grow the winning culture that Darren and the staff have laid out. I can’t wait for preseason to start so we can get back to working together to achieve our ultimate goal of bringing more silverware to the fans and city of Richmond.”
With an offseason to reflect, Crisler is raring to get back out on the City Stadium pitch to anchor the defense for the club’s historic 30th consecutive season.
“Playing at City Stadium is always an honor,” Crisler said. “The fans, and especially the Red Army, always bring the energy and noise to help us. We had a great home record last year and that is in large part due to the fans, field crew, and everyone behind the scenes that allow us to succeed. We must continue to win at City Stadium and make it one of the hardest places for opponents to play. With the pieces we have returning and the new players we have added, I am extremely excited to get going. I know we will continue to work and grow together to achieve our goals. I am looking forward to a very successful 2022 season for the Richmond Kickers!”

Photo © Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography

2022 marks our historic 30th consecutive season! The USL League One schedule is live and fans can begin to plot their nights at City Stadium! Reserve your spot today at where you can purchase full-season general admission or premium seating options!
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TRANSACTION: Richmond Kickers exercise Jalen Crisler’s contract option for the 2022 USL League One season on January 11, 2022.

Photo © Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography