Match: Harrisburg City Islanders vs Richmond Kickers
Date: Saturday, July 15th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: FNB Field (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Refs: REF: BRANDON SMITH AR1: Ryan Dos Reis AR2: Joseph Paolini 4TH: Matthew Vodzak
Television: ABC27 (Harrisburg and vicinity)
How Richmond will look: Richmond has had a rough year so far, and they find themselves sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table with no wins since April 22nd. But Richmond has repeatedly shown that they’re a tough squad during recent draws with Tampa Bay and Bethlehem.
Don’t expect to see the same Kickers that Harrisburg faced at the beginning of the season. D.C. United loanees such as and Alhaji Kamara are long gone. But the Kickers have also been proactive about signing new players. They added forward Franck Tayou in June and they added midfielder (and Villanova product) Oscar Umar on Thursday. He will be available to make his debut for the Kickers during this match up.
How Harrisburg will look: Harrisburg’s riding a wave of momentum after winning three of their last four matches. They’ve also managed to score seven goals during that period, which is impressive when you consider that they went scoreless for almost the entire month of June. Expect Bill Becher to keep putting his best foot forward by playing most of the same XI from Wednesday night’s win over the NYRB II. Although there may also be some rotation to keep players rested as Harrisburg looks ahead to playing a tough match against Charlotte on Tuesday.
What to expect: This is the third meeting for these clubs in 2017, so both sides should know what they’re getting into. Both teams have been able to hold things down on defense, with Richmond having conceded only 20 goals in 2017, similar to Harrisburg’s 21 goals conceded. But Richmond’s big problem, which they still haven’t been able to fully address, is scoring goals. One goal has often been enough to beat the Kickers this season. They have lost by a 1-0 scoreline six times in 2017.
After a 0-0 draw in their last meeting, it’s likely that both teams will try and avoid another prolonged defensive struggle. Harrisburg found success against NYRB II by attacking immediately, so expect them to go that route again. In order for the Kickers to succeed, that’s the one thing they’ll need to prevent. In their last match, they gave up a goal to FC Cincinnati in the 3rd minute and they never managed to get back into the match afterward. Their best chance is to hold level and then throw everything forward in the final minutes when Harrisburg, who just played a hot and humid ninety minutes three days ago, may start to tire.
PREDICTION: Richmond has a lot of pride to play for as I’m sure they’re dying to climb out of the basement. However, Harrisburg was down there themselves not too long ago, and it looks like they’re finally playing up to their potential. It’s a close match, but Harrisburg wins 2-1.
Author’s note: Because Harrisburg is playing two games so close together, I’ll be recapping them as one post. Look for the combined Richmond/Charlotte recap in the middle of next week.