Match: Penn FC vs Richmond Kickers
Date: Tuesday, June 12th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: FNB Field (City Island. Harrisburg, PA)
Refs: Not available at press time
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required)
How Richmond Kickers will look: Richmond had an excellent weekend as they put an end to the nine match unbeaten streak of the Charleston Battery. They secured a 2-0 win over the Battery courtesy of goals from Heviel Cordoves and Luiz Fernando. Now they’re looking to keep their momentum going with a follow up victory over Penn FC.
One weapon that the Kickers should have that they could not use when Penn FC played them in the Open Cup is DC United’s Dane Kelly. Kelly has been loaned down to the Kickers several times this season and he contributed an assist during the match against the Battery. The Penn FC defense will have their hands full if he makes an appearance. After all, he scored eighteen goals in the USL just last season.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC also picked up a win Saturday night, but they had to go down to the final seconds to defeat Toronto FC II by a 3-2 scoreline. It was a tale of two halves for Penn FC as they were mostly lifeless in the first half before coming out of the locker room with enough fire to quickly score twice. Defender Ken Tribbett headed in those two goals, so he’s currently the team leader in goals scored.
Penn FC has a somewhat crowded schedule as they will be playing three matches in eight days. The final match of that stretch will be a tough trip to Louisville on Saturday. But Head Coach Raoul Voss has shown a willingness to rotate the squad before, so that should come into play on Tuesday. Sean Lewis could come in at goalkeeper and striker Tommy Heinemann might be rested ahead of Saturday. And expect Jorge Rivera to make an appearance in the midfield, especially after he scored twice against the Kickers during the Open Cup.
What to expect: This is going to be a trend-breaking game for at least one of these teams. The Kickers have four wins this season, but none of them have been away from the friendly confines of City Stadium down in Richmond. Penn FC has won twice at home, but they always play their home matches in pairs and they’ve yet to win the second match of a home stand.
In order to get the win, Penn FC is going to have to work on creating more of their preferred scoring opportunities. They aren’t scoring a lot of goals, but when they do score it’s usually via a header and often off of a set-piece. But you know what, why fight it? If they’re scoring off of a lot of headers right now, then they might as well roll with it. If their defense can stay focused during the match, Penn FC should only need a goal or two to win.
Richmond’s chances are going to be tied to their attacking options. Fortunately for them, they’ve got some top quality USL attackers that they can choose from. There’s Dane Kelly, as I mentioned before, as well as Cordoves, Fernando, and Brian Shriver. Fernando in particular had Penn FC’s number during their Open Cup match, so pay close attention to him as he looks to collect some goals out of the midfield.
If Penn FC can keep those attackers from making a breakthrough, then they’ll be able to control the flow of the game as they go into the second half. Look for Penn FC to try plenty of crosses at they look for an open man in the box. They’d like for this to lead to a high quantity of corner kicks or other set pieces for them to take advantage of. Jerry Ortiz nearly tucked away a few direct free kicks on Saturday night, and if he plays you can expect him to put most of his free kicks on frame.
PREDICTION: Richmond is hot right now, but Penn FC plays hard at home. But, more importantly, midweek games are often slower and tougher in the USL. I think this one ends up 1-1 because of that.