KICKERS HOST CHARLESTON IN HOME OPENER SATURDAY
Kick Off 20th Anniversary Against Oldest Rivals, 5 pm at City Stadium
Showcasing retro 1993 uniforms, the Kickers will wear a custom green and blue strip while the Battery will wear their black and white striped vintage kit, inspired by the clubs’ first seasons. Kickers $20 Anniversary Golden Tickets are available for purchase at RichmondKickers.com through Wednesday, April 4 and can be exchanged at the stadium for an unlimited number of tickets. Groups of friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances are invited to celebrate the Kickers 20th anniversary with a one-time $20 purchase.
“I can still recall our first game against the Battery in 1993 and after countless challenges and obstacles, it is a testament to both clubs that twenty years later these two organizations are experiencing unprecedented success on and off the field,” commented Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers former professional player and current Head Coach and Director of Soccer.
“We are looking forward to kicking off our 2012 season against the Battery,” added Cowlishaw. “There is no better feeling than beating them and I know their fans feel same way about beating the Kickers. We are proud to have shared twenty memorable years with the Battery and expect a fiercely competitive set of matches to entertain the fans.”
Rivals since 1993, Richmond and Charleston, alongside fellow USL PRO side Charlotte Eagles are the longest, continuously operating professional soccer clubs in the country. The Kickers first-ever league match against the Battery was on May 1, 1993 at Stoney Field in downtown Charleston. The Battery claimed the 2-1 victory behind goals from Mario Lone and Nigel James, with Cowlishaw notching the lone goal for the Kickers.
Since their inception, the Kickers and the Battery have met 43 times over the past 19 seasons, with Charleston narrowly leading the all-time series record with 20 wins, 19 losses and four draws. Most recently, both teams were successful on their home turf in 2011, as the clubs exchanged a 2-1 scoreline early in the season. Despite combining for six league Championship titles (Charleston 1996, 2003, 2010; Richmond 1995, 2006, 2009), the two sides have only met in one high-stakes match, with the Battery stripping the Kickers of the USL Second Division crown in a heated 2-1 affair on August 28, 2010.
Sharing more than just records and tradition, the Kickers and the Battery have seen several players on both sides of the pitch including Marco Ferruzzi, Mike Burke, Scott Cannon, Mac Cozier, Kevin Scott, Mario Lone, Greg Simmonds, Josh Henderson, Kelvin Jones, Luke Vercollone and Anthony Catalano.
The Kickers celebrate a landmark season in American professional soccer in 2012, tallying 903 goals in 303 victories over the past 20 years. Making nine Championship appearances, the Kickers have claimed four national titles including the U.S. Open Cup crown in 1995. In addition to celebrating success on the field, the Kickers have also developed a youth club with over 8,000 member players participating in programs for all ages and abilities, fulfilling their mission of becoming the model for soccer in the U.S.
Players to Watch
Kickers: Returning for his 13th and final professional season, three-time USL Goalkeeper of the Year Ronnie Pascale (#22) posted a career-high 11 shutouts in 2011 en route to league and U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Leading the Kickers with 280 career appearances, he has amassed an overall record of 149-72-55. Rookie defender Shane Johnson (#3) joins Pascale’s veteran defensive line out of Longwood University. A native of Ashburn, Virginia, Johnson notched three goals and six assists, while contributing to 17 shutouts in 71 appearances throughout his collegiate career. Former New England Revolution midfielder Luke Vercollone (#4) returns for his fifth season in Richmond. The notorious workhorse spent two seasons with the Charleston Battery prior to playing 100 games with the Kickers over the last four campaigns. Newcomer Jason Yeisley (#17) adds firepower to the Kickers attack, signing with Richmond after leading the Pittsburgh Riverhounds with five goals and two assists for 12 points last season.
Battery: Defender Colin Falvey (#32) returns for his third season with the Battery. A member of the 2010 USL Championship squad, the Cork, Ireland native has made 46 appearances in Charleston. Tony Donatelli (#14) anchors the midfield, signing with the Battery after a successful career with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact. The veteran midfielder made 23 appearances with the Rochester Rhinos in 2011, notching three goals and four assists. Recent signing Salieu Bundu (#11) scored the game winning goal in the 2008 USL Championship with the Cleveland City Stars before joining the Carolina RailHawks (NASL). On loan to the Charlotte Eagles last season, the forward from Sierra Leone led the USL PRO side with seven goals and one assist for 15 points.