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Kickers Strike Late to Earn First Win

By COLTON CORESCHI - colton.coreschi@uslsoccer.com, 03/31/18, 7:00PM EDT

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Imura, Gonzalez score to earn first three points of 2018


Photo courtesy of Richmond Kickers

RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers earned their first three points of the season Saturday evening with a 2-1 comeback victory against North Carolina FC at City Stadium. It was a slow start for the two sides, as they managed just one shot on target between them through the first 15 minutes. The Kickers lead off with their best attempt of the first half, as a North Carolina FC turnover ended up with Koby Osei-Wusu one-on-one in the box with goalkeeper Alex Tambakis, who made a brilliant stop to his right to keep proceedings level. Ultimately, it was North Carolina FC who found the breakthrough in the 43rd minute. After a run into the box, Steven Miller played a well-directed ball across the face of goal that found the foot of Daniel Rios, all alone, who coolly finished into the wide-open net to give the visitors a one goal advantage heading into the break. In the second half, the Kickers missed out on another opportunity to break through. At the hour mark, Heviel Cordoves had a chance to finish off a cross all alone at the back post, but his attempt on target was cleared off the line by North Carolina defender Aaron Guillen to preserve the visitors' lead. The Kickers would earn another chance, however, when they were awarded a penalty in the 75th minute after Brian Shriver was brought down in the box. This time, the hosts would make the most of the opportunity as Yudai Imura made no mistake and leveled the score at one from the spot. North Carolina would almost take back the lead instantaneously, but Travis Worra made a leaping stop to keep out a threatening Austin da Luz header. This time it would be the visitors who lamented a missed chance, as the Kickers would strike again minutes later. A flick from Raul Gonzalez set Shriver free into the box on the right side of goal, who centered back to Gonzalez to finish with a brilliant back-heel into the net to give the Kickers their first lead of the season. North Carolina would press late with one more long-ball opportunity, but Worra made a stunning one-on-one stop against Marios Lomis to keep the Kickers' lead intact and earn the team's first win and three points of the season.

Scoring
43’ – NC – Daniel Rios (Steven Miller)
77’ – RIC – Yudai Imura (Penalty)
83’ – RIC – Raul Gonzalez (Brian Shriver)

#RICvNC: Full Match and Opta Box Score

Three Things That Matter:

  • 1. With the first half played so evenly, a missed opportunity from the Kickers was a pivotal moment early in this match. The hosts had a chance to get on the board first, but a stunning one-on-one save from Tambakis robbed them of a potential lead. That missed opportunity left the door open for North Carolina FC, who grabbed a vital goal minutes before the break to seize the advantage on the road.

  • 2. The second half would be a different story, as the Kickers earned and converted a penalty to equalize around the hour mark to change the momentum of the match. They'd ride that rush through several dangerous North Carolina attacks before finding a winner late through a gorgeous back-heel effort from Raul Gonzalez, leaving the visitors to lament their own missed chances.

  • 3. Both keepers made stunning saves to keep the match close through to the end. Early on, Alex Tambakis impressed for North Carolina FC, allowing the visitors to seize their early lead. However, Travis Worra would steal the spotlight with several incredible saves, including a one-on-one effort in stoppage time to preserve the Kickers' lead and all three points.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Brian Shriver, Richmond Kickers – While Yudai Imura and Raul Gonzalez found the back of the net for the Kickers, it was Shriver who earned a penalty to set up the first and picked up a deserved assist on the second to help the hosts earn three points.

Upcoming Games:
Richmond Kickers
 vs. New York Red Bulls II – April 7, 5 p.m. ET, City Stadium
North Carolina FC vs. Indy Eleven  – April 7, 7 p.m. ET, Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park

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