RICHMOND, VA – (Wednesday, August 1, 2012) – The Richmond Kickers return to Richmond City Stadium this Friday, August 3 to host Antigua Barracuda FC. Kicking off at 7:00 p.m., Friday’s match-up marks one of the Kickers’ final four regular season games of the 2012 campaign and will be critical in shaping the USL PRO standings.
Friday’s match kicks off a late season three-game series against Antigua, as the two clubs swap home field advantage for the last two regular season games of the season. The Barracudas roster features eight players from the Antigua and Barbuda National Team who faced the United States in World Cup Qualifying and six National Team players are expected to appear in Richmond this weekend. The last place Barracudas (3-14-1, 10 points) fell to Richmond (8-7-5, 29 points) 1-0 in July 2011 in their only previous meeting.
Last time out, a pair of goals from defender William Yomby gave the Richmond Kickers a split of a grueling back-to-back series last weekend, avenging a 1-0 loss on the road, as the home side held on to a 2-1 win against the Charlotte Eagles. Richmond’s victory ended Charlotte’s six-game winning streak and pulled the Kickers back into sole possession of the sixth and final USL PRO playoff spot.
Meanwhile, Antigua travels to Richmond this week hoping to snap a six-game winless slide, most recently dropping points to Pittsburgh before surrendering an early lead in Dayton two days later. The Barracudas claimed the advantage in the 12th minute as a cross fell to recent signing Darrelle Russell who finished first-time into the back of the net. However, the visitors conceded three unanswered goals as second half dramatics resulted in red-card ejections to midfielder Matt Aldred and 2011 USL PRO All-League Second Team defender George Dublin, forcing Antigua to face Richmond without two key players.
Heading into the final month of regular season action, the USL PRO standings have become a fierce battleground, with just seven points separating third-place Charleston 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.
Players to Watch
Kickers: Defender William Yomby (#2) tallied his second and third goals of the season last weekend to lead the Kickers to a much-needed win over the Charlotte Eagles. Earning USL PRO Team of the Week honors this week for his offensive efforts, the 2009 USL PRO Defender of the Year has also contributed to six shutouts during the regular season and U.S. Open Cup. Newcomer Philippe Davies (#20) was immediately introduced to the starting lineup upon his arrival in Richmond, just days before the USL PRO roster freeze. The Canadian international made 29 appearances with the Vancouver Whitecaps (USL-1/USSF D2) over two seasons, before signing as the first-ever homegrown and Canadian player with the Major League Soccer side in 2010. Midfielder Gerson Dos Santos (#8) is one of five Kickers players to appear in all 20 regular season matches this season. Contributing two assists on the season, the Brazilian powerhouse is a Virginia Commonwealth University product.
Barracudas: Peter Byers (#16) leads the Barracudas with three goals and three assists in 15 appearances this season. The Antigua and Barbuda National Team forward notched the lone goal against the United States, three minutes after entering the match as a substitute, to avoid the shutout in the Semifinals of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. Antigua and Barbuda National Team goalkeeper James Molvin (#18) has backstopped the Barracudas to three wins this season, posting 41 saves in 12 appearances. He signed with the Barracudas in 2011 after spending four seasons in the Antiguan First Division. Newcomer Darrelle Russell made an immediate impact on the Antigua lineup, notching his first goal of the season against Dayton. Signing just prior to the USL PRO roster freeze, Russell made his Antigua debut against Pittsburgh and Dayton last weekend.