RICHMOND, VA – The Richmond Kickers extended their lead at the top of the USL PRO standings with a scoreless draw against VSI Tampa Bay FC Sunday night. Kickers goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra posted six saves for his league-high eighth shutout to keep the Kickers' record setting undefeated streak alive.
With their season-long unbeaten streak on the line, the Kickers pressed for an opening goal directly out of the gates when defender Sascha Görres faked a volley then teed up a shot that calmly slotted through traffic, forcing goalkeeper Alex Horwath to dive to his right to parry it wide in the 6th minute. Two minutes later, Horwath sprung into action again, denying a Michael Callahan strike to prevent the early break through.
Tampa retaliated in the 11th minute when midfielder Tony Donatelli received the ball 30 yards out and rifled a distance shot over the crossbar. Midfielder Chad Burt lined up a similar attempt six minutes later but Dykstra leapt to push the ball over the bar.
The defensive battle ensued into the second half until Donatelli battled two defenders for possession at the right touchline in the 55th minute. Breaking free, he sent a deflected cross back to the top of the box where forward Andriy Budnyy fired on target but Dykstra dove to the near post to smother his effort.
Three minutes later, Tampa searched for the icebreaker when Douglas Dos Santos stole the ball in the midfield minutes after entering the match as a second half substitute. Carrying the ball deep into Kickers territory, he played it back to Burt who unleashed a rocket shot that whizzed inches past the upright.
A 69th minute lightning strike delayed the match for nearly an hour and the Kickers looked for a quick tally minutes after the restart when midfielder Nate Robinson lofted a free kick into the box. Hoping to find Stanley Nyazamba in the air, his cross was thwarted when the Zimbabwean midfielder collided with Horwath as the goalkeeper grabbed the ball.
Soon after, Nyazamba broke through the Tampa defense and sliced the ball across the goal mouth, searching for David Bulow, lurking at the back post, but the ball was intercepted by VSI defender Kyle Hoffer and cleared from harm’s way.
With 10 minutes remaining in regulation, a poor clearance led to an inswinging Tampa corner kick that pinged around a crowded box before deflecting off a Kickers defender and striking the post. The rebound found Dos Santos at the top of the box and his follow up shot met the same fate, rattling the woodwork once again, before Dykstra diverted it over the endline.
Gaining momentum, Tampa pressed forward again three minutes later, when a tricky combination left Donatelli unmarked but the midfielder could not capitalize on the opportunity as he blasted a shot from 20 yards just over the crossbar.
In the final seconds of stoppage time, the Kickers were denied a last-gasp attempt to steal all three points when Gorres sliced a left-footed shot destined for goal but Horwath wrapped it around the post to preserve the scoreless draw.
The Kickers take to the road again next weekend for a pair of back to back matches in the Carolinas. First, the Kickers travel to the Charlotte Eagles on Friday, August 2 before facing the Charleston Battery 24 hours later. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., live from Queens Sports Complex and Blackbaud Stadium, respectively, on USLnation.com.
Box Score First Half Second Half Final
Richmond 0 0 0
Tampa 0 0 0
Kickers: GK Andrew Dykstra, Luke Vercollone, Henry Kalungi, Conor Shanosky, Alex Lee, Michael Callahan (Philippe Davies – 80’), Sascha Görres, Stanley Nyazamba (William Yomby – 89’), Nate Robinson (Joseph Ngwenya – 80’), Matthew Delicâte (Shane Johnson – 74’), Brian Ownby (David Bulow – 45’)