Photo courtesy of Richmond Kickers
RICHMOND, Va. – Despite a fair share of chances for both sides, the host Richmond Kickers and expansion Bethlehem Steel FC played to a scoreless draw on Saturday at City Stadium. It marks the third scoreless draw of the season for both teams. Bethlehem had previously posted back-to-back 0-0 draws against the Charleston Battery and Louisville City FC on April 24 and May 1, respectively. Richmond’s two scoreless draws were against Wilmington Hammerheads FC on April 1 and Louisville on May 21. Bethlehem won the first meeting against the Kickers 2-1 on April 17, so the Steel hold the series lead at 1-0-1. Richmond moves to 5-5-5 (20 points) overall and 5-1-2 at home. Bethlehem is now 4-4-6 (18 points) overall and 2-2-4 on the road.
Three Things That Mattered:
1. The defense played front and center for Saturday’s affair, and Richmond’s offense had ample opportunities to break the stalemate. In the 56th minute, the Kickers threatened the net on two occasions, first with a Yudai Imura shot that was saved by Steel goalkeeper Samir Badr, and then a follow-up chance from Fred Owusu Sekyere at close range that Bethlehem’s Ryan Richter blocked off of the line.
2. Richmond generated the brunt of the scoring chances during a scoreless first half in which the Kickers out-shot the Steel 7-2. One of the closest sequences was Brian Ownby’s strong run for Richmond in the 20th minute as he split a pair of defenders and toe-poked a shot that Badr got a partial deflection on with his leg. The shot was still heading toward the net and Richter recovered just in time a couple yards in front of the goal line to make the clearance and keep the score level.
3. Among Bethlehem’s chances, the visiting side nearly broke through in the 71st minute off of a Ryan Richter throw-in. He connected with James Chambers, whose right-footed volley forced Richmond goalkeeper Charlie Horton into a diving save to his right. In the first half, Bethlehem’s Seku Conneh mustered the only close chance for the Steel with a dangerous 33rd-minute free kick that clipped the top of the crossbar.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Ryan Richter, Bethlehem Steel FC – Richter was responsible for two of the bigger defensive stops of the match, first clearing a Brian Ownby chance and then blocking a Fred Owusu Sekyere shot in the second half.
Richmond Kickers at Charleston Battery – July 2, 7:30 p.m. ET, MUSC Health Stadium
Bethlehem Steel FC at FC Cincinnati – July 2, 6 p.m. ET, Nippert Stadium