May 20, 2013

Kickers settle for draw against LA Blues

RICHMOND, VA – The Richmond Kickers extended their unbeaten streak, battling the Los Angeles Blues to a 1-1 draw Saturday night.  In a tale-of-two halves, the Kickers held a first half advantage on an early Joseph Ngwenya tally until Blues midfielder Juan Perez buried an 88th minute equalizer to steal a point at City Stadium.

Following several ill-fated attempts on both sides of the field, the Kickers nearly broke through in the 34th minute when midfielder Luke Vercollone stole the ball in the midfield and fed it to Ngwenya.  The Zimbabwean international swiftly maneuvered past his mark and played a square ball across the top of the box to an awaiting Michael Seaton.  The 17-year old forward’s low shot was blocked by a staunch Blues defense but Nate Robinson attempted to scoop up the rebound near the endline, only to see his shot from a difficult angle cleared off the line.

The Kickers attack could not be stifled three minutes later when Robinson struck a low driven ball through traffic from the top of the 18.  The Blues defense once again redirected the ball from harm’s way, but this time the ricochet found a well-positioned Ngwenya.  Taking two steps around his defender, he lofted the ball over the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Steve Gonzalez and into the back of the net.

The Blues saw their best chance of the half thwarted seconds later when midfielder Rodrigo Lopez received the ball on at the left post but Kickers goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra threw his body in the line of fire to make the save.

After the restart, the Kickers saw their hopes of doubling the score denied in the 68th minute.  Robinson’s well-timed cross drifted over the commotion in the box, finding second half substitute Joseph Haboush six yards out but the former VCU midfielder’s volley from point blank range clipped just over the crossbar.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, the Blues pressed forward and nearly capitalized on several chances in rapid fire succession.  First, in the 81st minute, a dangerous corner kick was played into the box, forcing Dykstra to punch it through the swarming box. Shay Spitz kept the ball in play, connecting with Duach Jock at the left edge of the six yard box but the Kickers goalkeeper leapt to his feet to grab his diving header as it was headed towards goal.

Dykstra’s acrobatics were tested again three minutes later when a streaking Perez carried the ball down the left flank and slotted it on target but Dykstra dove to his right to wrap it around the post.

The Blues offensive efforts paid off in the 88th minute after a threatening ball pinged around the box before Chris Cortez sprung Perez free at the left post, who fired a rocket into the far right corner to level the score with minutes to spare.

The Richmond Kickers will enter the 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in the Second Round on Tuesday, May 21 when they host Icon FC of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association (USASA) at City Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. and tickets are on sale now at  Should the Kickers advance past Icon, they will host their official Major League Soccer affiliate, D.C. United, on Tuesday, May 28 at 7:00 p.m.
Box Score             First Half         Second Half             Final
Richmond                     1                      0                         1
Los Angeles                  0                      1                         1

Scoring Summary
37th minute: Richmond – Joseph Ngwenya
88th minute: Los Angeles – Juan Perez (Chris Cortez)

Kickers: GK Andrew Dykstra, Juan Arbelaez, Henry Kalungi, William Yomby, Sascha Görres (Shane Johnson 62’), Luke Vercollone, Michael Callahan, Joseph Ngwenya (Stanley Nyazamba 84’), Nate Robinson, Jason Yeisley (Matthew Delicate – 56’), Michael Seaton (Joseph Haboush – 62’)

Blues: GK Steve Gonzalez, Charles Pettys (Matheau Hall – 55’), Cory Miller, Duach Jock, James Turner (Chris Cortez – 67’), Allan Russell, Nelson Pizarro (Juan Perez – 57’), Rodrigo Lopez (David Bakal – 67’), Shay Spitz, Gabriel Gonzalez, George Davis (Sergio Ortiz – 72’)

Shots                           Saves                           Fouls                           Corners

Blues:               12         Blues:               1          Blues:               8          Blues:               6
Kickers:            10         Kickers:            5          Kickers:           13         Kickers:            5

77th minute: Joseph Ngwenya (Richmond)


Referee:                                                Charles Carson
Assistant Referees:                               Scott Kachmarik, Hagan Barnett
Fourth Official:                                     James Walker
Attendance:                                          1,836
Weather:                                               Partly cloudy, 84º