Saturday’s pro match kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and will be critical in shaping the final USL PRO standings as Harrisburg leapfrogged Richmond into fifth place in the table after a convincing 3-0 victory over third-place Charleston Wednesday night. The City Islanders capitalized on a man-advantage when Battery defender Kyle Hoffer was sent off in the 25th minute, with Brian Ombiji and Tom Mellor firing home a pair of goals in the first half and Lucky Mkosana rounding out the scoreline six minutes from regulation.
Following a dramatic 2-0 win over Antigua Barracuda FC last weekend, the sixth-place Kickers trail second place Rochester by just six points. Second half substitute Gerson Dos Santos notched the decisive late goal two minutes after entering the match and added an assist on Matthew Delicâte’s 90th minute tally to keep the Kickers neck and neck with Charleston, Wilmington, Harrisburg, Charlotte and Los Angeles in the postseason race.
The Kickers face the City Islanders for the third and final time this weekend, holding an overall 9-3-7 record against them, having last met in a 1-1 deadlock in Harrisburg last June. Kickers defender Shane Johnson notched his first professional goal, breaking the ice in the second half before Harrisburg newcomer Garrett Pettis leveled the score seconds after entering the match off the bench. The game was called in the 84th minute following a lightning delay and torrential downpour that left conditions at Skyline Sports Complex unplayable.
The two clubs previously faced off in Richmond early in the season when back-to-back goals on either side of the half saw the Kickers battle Harrisburg to a 2-2 draw. The Kickers took an early lead when Delicâte and Christopher Agorsor teamed up in the 8th minute before conceding a goal to Harrisburg forward J.T. Noone seconds later. The teams went back and forth once more in rapid fire succession when Delicâte and Agorsor combined again before City Islanders forward Yann Ekra notched the equalizer two minutes later.
Heading into the final two weeks of regular season action, the USL PRO standings are a fierce battleground, with just 12 points separating second-place Rochester from eighth-place Los Angeles. The 2012 USL PRO Playoffs will include the top six finishers in the table, with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye the weekend of August 24-26. The semifinals, featuring the four remaining teams, will be played the following weekend, with the 2012 USL PRO Championship set for the weekend of September 7-9. All playoff rounds will implement a single-game knockout format.
The Richmond Kickers conclude the regular season with a two-game road trip to Antigua August 17 and August 19.
Players to Watch
Kickers: Saturday’s match-up marks the final regular season home game for veteran goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale (#22) who plans to retire following the 2012 season. The 13-year veteran has made over 300 appearances in a Kickers uniform since becoming the club’s starting goalkeeper in 2002. Backstopping the team to six Championship appearances and two league titles, the franchise player has posted seven shutouts so far in 2012. Virginia Commonwealth University product, Gerson Dos Santos (#8), notched his first league goal and added his third assist of the season against Antigua in a critical 2-0 win at City Stadium. The heroics earned the Brazilian powerhouse USL PRO Team of the Week honors. Defender Sascha Görres (#23) joined Dos Santos on the Team of the Week following a solid performance against Antigua. An integral component on both sides of the ball, he created dangerous scoring opportunities while also contributing defensively to the team’s seventh shutout of the season.
City Islanders: Midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin (#18) joins the City Islanders for the final playoff push on loan from MLS affiliate Philadelphia Union. The 19-year old rookie signed with the Union prior to the 2012 season as the club’s second Homegrown Player and has made four appearances with Harrisburg. Zimbabwean midfielder Lucky Mkosana (#17) was selected in the second round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire before signing with Harrisburg midseason. The Ivy League Rookie of the Year leads the City Islanders with 13 points, notching his sixth goal of the season against the Charleston Battery this week. Midfielder Tom Mellor (#14) added a goal and an assist against the Battery to boost the City Islanders into fifth place in the USL PRO standings.
20th Anniversary Jersey Auction Saturday
The Richmond Kickers custom, green jerseys, inspired by the club’s inaugural campaign and worn during the 2012 regular season and U.S. Open Cup versus D.C. United will be auctioned during the last regular season home game this Saturday, August 11.
The retro uniforms, created by adidas, pay homage to 20 years of professional soccer in Richmond. The jerseys feature a classic design in the Kickers’ original green and blue colors from 1993. In addition to the unique color scheme, the throw-back look features the adidas three-stripes and red accents, which inspired the Kickers modern red strip.