Photo courtesy Brian L. Zimmerman / Richmond Kickers
RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers opened up their 25th season with a 1-0 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday in front of an impressive home-record crowd of 8,021 at City Stadium. The attendance shattered the previous record of 6,123 – set during the 2016 regular-season finale against the Charleston Battery – and the fan base was treated to a victory to open 2017. Richmond defender and team captain Conor Shanosky, who rejoined the club in the second half of the 2016 season, tallied early in the second half and the Kickers’ defense was able to make that hold up. Travis Worra earned the clean sheet, making a crucial penalty kick save in the opening 15 minutes. In stoppage time, Paul Wilson had a strong scoring chance for Harrisburg as he had a couple steps on the Richmond defense, but he booted his right-footed shot wide right. The game also marked the first of 25 USL regular-season matches in which the Video Assistant Referee technology was utilized.
51’ – RIC – Conor Shanosky (Fred Owusu Sekyere)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Through the first half, Harrisburg held the heavy possession advantage, with approximately 66 percent of the ball. So when Richmond found a key set-piece sequence early in the second half, the Kickers knew they needed to capitalize. They delivered with a Conor Shanosky header in the 51st minute off of Fred Owusu Sekyere’s free kick. Sekyere whipped the ball in from the right side and Shanosky even bowled over his own teammate Anthony Grant with an aggressive run toward the near right post to head the ball past Harrisburg goalkeeper Brandon Miller for the 1-0 advantage. Shanosky was reacquired by the Kickers late during the 2016 season after spending a couple years at Louisville City FC. D.C. United loaned Shanosky to Richmond during the 2013 and 2014 campaigns.
2. Richmond goalkeeper Travis Worra, on loan for a third consecutive year from D.C. United, made his presence felt early with an important penalty kick save within the game’s first 15 minutes. The Lancaster, Pa., native, who grew up just down the road from Harrisburg, turned away a penalty kick by City Islanders striker Aaron Wheeler in the 13th minute. Wheeler, back from his injury-shortened 2016 season, drew the PK after sustaining some contact against Hugh Roberts. The 6-foot-4 forward shot straight at the goal with Worra diving to his right, and Worra was able to lift his left foot enough to deflect the shot over the crossbar for a corner, fueling some heavy cheers at City Stadium. Worra spent the majority of 2016 with D.C., earning 13 MLS starts and posting four clean sheets as United endured injuries to goalkeepers Bill Hamid and Andrew Dykstra at various points of the year.
3. With VAR technology utilized Saturday, it was the first of 25 regular-season games in which the USL is working with Major League Soccer and the Professional Referee Organization to further enhance officiating accuracy in the sport. The next VAR match occurs Wednesday, March 29, when the Swope Park Rangers host the Portland Timbers 2 (8:30 p.m. ET kickoff).
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Conor Shanosky, Richmond Kickers – Shanosky delivered the lone goal and helped anchor a strong defensive effort against a City Islanders team that pressured well in the early going.
Richmond Kickers at New York Red Bulls II – April 1, 4 p.m. ET, MSU Soccer Park
Harrisburg City Islanders at New York Red Bulls II – April 5, 7 p.m. ET, Red Bull Arena