RICHMOND, VA – (Thursday, September 18, 2014) – The #4 seed Richmond Kickers return to City Stadium to host the #8 seed Harrisburg City Islanders in the Semifinal round of the 2014 USL PRO Playoffs this Saturday, September 20. The second round playoff match kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and the gates open at 5:30 p.m. with live music, craft beer on tap and RVA food trucks. Tickets are on sale now for $12/adult and $7/youth, ages 3-17, at RichmondKickers.com. With the exception of All-Access and Red Army Passes, 2014 Season Passes will not be accepted at this match.
The Kickers enter Saturday’s match following a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory over the #5 seed Charleston Battery in the Quarterfinals of the USL PRO Playoffs last week. Forward Matthew Delicâte’s first touch of the game proved to be decisive, as the Kickers’ leading scorer buried the game-winner in the 117th minute moments after being brought on as a substitute. Collin Martin gave Richmond the lead 11 minutes in, but the Battery responded in the second half as the game ended level after regulation, requiring late game heroics to avoid penalties.
Meanwhile, Harrisburg’s road to the Semifinals resulted in a 10-11-7 record and 37 points to round out the field of eight playoff-bound teams. Recording the only upset in the opening postseason round, the City Islanders stunned the Regular Season Champions and #1 seed Orlando City on the road. Antoine Hoppenot struck on a well-executed counter-attack five minutes before halftime that saw Jamiel Hardware spring the Philadelphia Union loanee behind the Lions’ defense to finish into the right corner, and that was all Harrisburg needed as Orlando was unable to find the back of the net in a tense second half.
With a rivalry spanning nearly a decade, the Kickers hold an all-time series record of 15-3-7 over the City Islanders. The Kickers swept the three game regular season series in 2014, relying on a last second goal for a dramatic 3-2 win in Harrisburg on May 31 before edging the City Islanders 1-0 in Richmond two weeks later. The Kickers closed out the series with a narrow 2-1 victory at City Stadium in July.
In addition to heated regular season matches, the two Championship contenders have a history of battling in high stakes games. The Kickers last hosted the City Islanders in the Semifinals on August 22, 2009, going scoreless through regulation and nearly two full overtime periods before a last-gasp scramble in the box allowed Delicâte to find the back of the net and boost the club to that season’s title match.
Two years earlier, a penalty kick shootout was required to determine the winner of the Richmond/Harrisburg Championship on August 25, 2007. Once again held scoreless through regulation and overtime, the Kickers surrendered the title to the City Islanders after nine rounds of penalties.
The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the Championship to face the winner of the #2 seed Sacramento Republic FC versus #3 seed LA Galaxy II match.
Players to Watch
Kickers: Returning to City Stadium after a month-long injury, forward Matthew Delicate (#7) immediately picked up where he left off, scoring the game-winning goal with his first and only touch of the night in the 117th minute against Charleston in the Quarterfinals last week. Posting a career-high 16 goals through all competitions this season, the club’s all-time leading scorer surpassed the century mark in career goals in June. Anchoring the midfield in 28 games, Samuel Asante (#28) has contributed two goals and three assists during his first season in Richmond. The native of Sunyani, Ghana spent the 2013 season with the Charlotte Eagles, making 21 appearances en route to the USL PRO Championship match. A stalwart on the back line, veteran William Yomby (#2) leads the team in minutes played this season with 2,754. Integral on both sides of the ball, the Cameroonian defender posted two goals during his sixth season in Richmond while contributing to seven shutouts.
City Islanders: Forward Antoine Hoppenot (#23) tallied the lone goal in the City Islanders’ 1-0 upset over Orlando City in the Quarterfinals of the USL PRO Playoffs last week. On loan from Harrisburg’s Major League Soccer affiliate, Philadelphia Union, the native of Paris, France made nine appearances during the regular season, adding one goal and one assist. In his fourth season in Harrisburg, midfielder Morgan Langley (#15) leads the team in scoring, posting six goals and six assists for 18 points in 25 appearances. After leading the City Islanders to the 2011 Championship match, he signed with the Philadelphia Union for a brief stint before returning to Harrisburg in 2012. Defender Richie Marquez (#2) anchors the Harrisburg defense as the only player to play every minute of every game this year. Joining the City Islanders on loan from the Philadelphia Union, he was an NSCAA All-American at the University of Redlands.