Match: Richmond Kickers vs. Harrisburg City Islanders
Date: Saturday, May 13th
Venue: City Stadium (Richmond, VA)
Refs: REF: KEVIN BROADLEY AR1: Jeffrey Skinker AR2: Ben McFall 4TH: Brendan O'Neill
How Richmond will look: Richmond has struggled to get the ball in the net so far this season. They’ve been blanked in four out of their seven matches, and they’ve only managed to score multiple goals one time. Part of the problem is that they haven’t been getting as many loanees from D.C. United, and their back line hasn’t stayed healthy. They should be boosted for this week’s match thanks to returning players, as well as continued help from D.C. United’s Chris Korb on defense. But don’t expect to see Maxim Tissot on the field this week. D.C. United released him on Monday and he’s playing in the NASL with the San Francisco Deltas now.
Here’s an interesting note, recent Kickers signee Mikey Minutillo spent last year playing with 07 Vestur on the Faroe Islands. He helped them get promoted to the Faroe Island Premier League (aka Effodeildin).
How Harrisburg will look: The City Islanders played hard against the Red Bulls II last week, but they could only manage one goal. The silver lining was the increased number of chances that the offense was able to generate compared to some of their previous matches. Last week’s midfield trio of Rasheed Olabiyi, Mo Dabo, and Paul Wilson were much more successful at moving the ball forward. This generated more opportunities for Cardel Benbow out wide and Aaron Wheeler up top. Expect to see a similar lineup of personnel this week, bolstered by defender Abass Mohamed and goalkeeper Brandon Miller returning from their one game suspensions.
What to expect: The forecast calls for rain in Richmond on Friday and Saturday, so field conditions could very well be a factor. The Kickers are no strangers to playing in the rain, having already taken three points from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the middle of a downpour. This could potentially play to their advantage.
After playing from behind for most of last week’s match against NYRB II, the City Islanders will be looking to push the ball forward early. They’ve been most successful this season when they’ve been able to get a lead and protect it. Being able to get the first goal in this match is going to be crucial for Harrisburg.
Richmond picked up the win during the opening week of the season, but that match was a missed penalty away from being a draw. Also, most of their starting defenders from that match aren’t with the team right now. Will the Kickers be able to hold as tough now that Harrisburg’s offense has started to click? Will their struggling offense be able to score on a Harrisburg defense that’s getting back to full strength?
PREDICTION: Both of these teams have been playing tough so far this year, and the weather will be a bit of an X factor, but I’m going to go with the City Islanders getting the win by a score of 2-1.