Richmond Kickers News Release -- www.richmondkickers.com
Friday, August 24, 2012
RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers return to Richmond City Stadium this Saturday, August 25 to host the Wilmington Hammerheads in the USL PRO Playoffs. Kicking off at 7 p.m., the result of Saturday’s quarterfinal match-up will determine the opponent for the top seeded Orlando City and Rochester Rhinos in the semifinals one week later. Tickets are $12/adults and $7/youth ages 3-17 and are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.
The Kickers and the Hammerheads both clinched a playoff berth in dramatic fashion, each having to win one of their final two matches on the road.
During a six-day road trip to Antigua, the Kickers split last week’s two-game series against the Barracudas to punch their ticket to the postseason. David Bulow’s lone goal earned the Kickers a narrow 1-0 victory on Friday, keeping the team’s hopes of finishing second in the USL PRO standings alive going into the final match of the regular season Sunday. However, despite Christopher Agorsor’s stoppage-time tally, Antigua rallied from the standings' basement to edge the Kickers 2-1 in the second contest, denying them of the coveted bye to the USL PRO Semifinals.
Earning three points on the weekend was enough to give the No.4 seed Kickers the edge in the standings while the Hammerheads clinched the No.5 seed with a late victory over the Charlotte Eagles in the second game of a grueling home-and-home series. After suffering their first and only home loss of the season, dropping a 1-0 decision in Wilmington on Saturday, the Hammerheads claimed a 2-1 victory on Sunday night in a contest that weather forced to be rescheduled from Friday.
Over the past 20 seasons, Richmond has qualified for postseason play 18 times, and reached the title match in 2010 six times in the past nine campaigns, falling just short of the Championship title in their last appearance in 2010. Richmond's seven previous league Championship appearances (1995, 1996, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009) include winning the Premier League title in 1995, a shoot-out loss to Seattle in the USL First Division final in 2005 and taking the USL Second Division crown twice against Charlotte in 2006 and 2009.
Richmond Versus Wilmington
The Kickers conceded two losses to the Hammerheads at Legion Stadium this season, most recently suffering a 1-0 defeat on July 7 when Corey Hertzog tallied the decisive goal in the 66th minute. Three weeks prior, the Hammerheads handed the Kickers a 2-1 loss on a pair of first-half goals. The Kickers opened scoring when defender Sascha Görres fed a through ball to Agorsor, who made no mistake from 16 yards out, but quickly squandered the early lead when Andriy Budnyy leveled the score seven minutes later. Wilmington claimed the advantage that they held throughout the match when Hertzog converted a penalty at the half-hour mark.
Previously, the two clubs faced off at Richmond City Stadium when the Kickers upended their southern rivals 3-1 in a stoppage-time frenzy. Budnyy tallied the lone goal for the Hammerheads, but the Kickers rallied back from the early deficit when Bulow leveled the score with a second-half penalty. It was not until after the 90th minute that Agorsor registered back-to-back goals seconds before the full-time whistle to earn all three points.
With a rivalry dating back to the 2006 season, the Kickers hold an all-time series record of 10-5-4 over the Hammerheads. The two clubs meet this weekend on familiar terms, having faced off in the first round of the 2011 playoffs in Wilmington when the No.3 seed Kickers ousted the No.2 seed Hammerheads to advance to the Division Final 5-4 on penalties. Scoreless for 120 minutes of regulation and overtime, the Kickers converted all five of their penalty kicks before relying on veteran goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale to make a heroic save on the Hammerhead’s fifth attempt to send to the Kickers through to the next round. That season, the Kickers succumbed to eventual USL PRO Champions Orlando City in the American Division Final.
USL PRO Playoffs
The 2012 USL PRO Playoffs include the top six finishers in the table with the No.1 seed Orlando City and No.2 seed Rochester Rhinos receiving a first-round bye. The knock-down, drag out battle for the final seeding concluded with the final regular season match when Charlotte was ousted from the playoffs as Harrisburg took a 1-0 victory against the Los Angeles Blues to claim the No.6 seed and a pairing with the No.3 seed Charleston Battery in the other quarterfinal match-up Saturday.
Orlando City and the Rochester Rhinos will face the two quarterfinal winners next week, with the lower remaining seed traveling to face the regular-season champion Lions, and the higher remaining seed travelling to face the Rhinos. Both semifinals will be played on Friday, August 31. The 2012 USL PRO Championship is set for the weekend of September 7-9. All playoff rounds will implement a single-game knockout format.
Players to Watch
Kickers: In his last appearance at City Stadium, defender William Yomby notched his fourth goal of the season to lead the Kickers to a vital 2-1 win over Harrisburg. Equally integral on both sides of the ball, the 2009 USL PRO Defender of the Year has also contributed to six shutouts during the regular season and U.S. Open Cup.
Midfielder David Bulow clinched a playoff berth for the Kickers last weekend when he notched the lone goal against Antigua Barracuda FC. In his fifth season with the Kickers, Bulow has posted four goals in 580 minutes played.
Saturday’s match-up could be the final home game for goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale, who plans to retire following the 2012 season. The 13-year veteran has made over 300 appearances in a Kickers uniform since becoming the club’s starting goalkeeper in 2002. Backstopping the team to six Championship appearances and two league titles, the franchise player has posted eight shutouts so far in 2012.
Hammerheads: Forward Corey Hertzog missed out on the USL PRO Scoring Champion honors to Orlando’s Dennis Chin by one point after notching nine goals and five assists in 17 games. On loan from the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, he notched both game-winning goals in a pair of Hammerheads victories over the Kickers earlier this season and leads his side with 23 points.
Steven Perry notched the crucial game-winning goal over rivals Charlotte Eagles in the final regular season game to tie up a playoff berth for the Hammerheads. The University of Notre Dame product signed with the Hammerheads in 2012 after spending the 2011 campaign with Finnish third division side Ekenäs IF.
Stalwart defender Gareth Evans has played every minute of all but two games during his second season in Wilmington, contributing to seven shutouts on the season. The Welshman and former Welsh Premier League player also added one goal, in the Hammerheads 2-1 victory in Charleston earlier this month, his first professional tally.
Game-Worn Jersey Auction September 10-13
The Richmond Kickers game-worn red and white adidas jerseys, worn during the club’s 20th Anniversary campaign will be auctioned through RichmondKickers.com September 10-13, 2012.
The Kickers signature sleek and lightweight red and white adidas Regista jerseys feature subtle accents and traditional adidas three-striping. Piping at the neckline and shoulders give the jersey further definition while the state-of-the-art ClimaLite® moisture control provides cool on-field comfort. The jerseys showcase Kickers partners Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc., Yogg and nTelos Wireless, as well as the official USL patch.
Bids will be accepted online through RichmondKickers.com beginning September 10 for the chance to own a one-of-a-kind piece from the Kickers historic 20th Anniversary season. Jerseys from all of the Kickers players will be available, including fan favorites such as 13-year veteran goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale and all-time leading scorer Matthew Delicâte.