Photo courtesy James Loving / Richmond Kickers
RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers clinched a place in the 2016 USL Playoffs with a 1-0 victory against Orlando City B on Saturday night at City Stadium as the hosts extended their undefeated streak to nine games. Richmond's victory, combined with Bethlehem Steel FC's loss to Richmond and Wilmington Hammerheads FC's draw with Rochester, saw the Kickers advance to the USL Playoffs for a sixth consecutive season. Both teams looked to get forward quickly in the first half, but were unable to find a decisive finish. Richmond went close in the 23rd minute when Samuel Asante’s cross found Anthony Grant, but the forward’s header went wide of the post. The Kickers had a chance saved when Miguel Aguilar’s effort was denied by Orlando goalkeeper Mark Ridgers just before the hour-mark, but the breakthrough finally came with 14 minutes to go as a low shot by Scott Thomsen just crept over the line to make it 1-0. Orlando had a late chance at an equalizer, only for Richmond goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra to palm it away for a corner, and the Kickers held on for all three points.
76’ – RIC – Scott Thomsen (Alex Lee)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Richmond entered Saturday night in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and thanks to Scott Thomsen’s late winner maintained that standing while also putting a little breathing room between themselves and the three teams sitting just below them in the standings. The Kickers now not only have a place in the postseason, but the side’s nine-game undefeated streak has the team in solid shape as it enters a big rivalry game on Wednesday against Charleston.
2. Orlando is still in solid shape to claim a place in the playoffs, but with only one point from its past three games the side will want to put a run of form together to get its playoff berth locked up, and also find some attacking rhythm as the playoffs approach. A visit from Pittsburgh arrives next Saturday night, and OCB will want to be more incisive in the final third to get things back on track.
3. The return of Matt Delicate late in the game as a second-half substitute for the Kickers was a very welcome sight after the veteran forward’s bout with kidney cancer earlier this year. After undergoing surgery to and being given a clean bill of health in July, Delicate has worked his way back into fitness, and got a well-deserved reception from the home crowd as he returned to action for a late cameo.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Scott Thomsen, Richmond Kickers – Thomsen had the only goal of the game as the Kickers continued to push forward in the Eastern Conference and maintain its hold on fourth place in the standings.
Richmond Kickers vs. Charleston Battery – Aug. 31, 7 p.m. ET, City Stadium
Orlando City B vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m. ET, Titan Soccer Complex