Match: Penn FC vs Richmond Kickers
Date: Monday, July 9th
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 will look: Richmond has made a few changes since they last visited City Island. The biggest is that long time head coach Leigh Cowlishaw stepped down in order to assume the position of Director of Soccer Operations. In his place, the Kickers promoted former player David Bulow who had played for this kickers between 2006 and 2013. He has only coached one match so far, a 3-1 loss to North Carolina FC.
It’s hard to say if the new coach will make a significant change to how the Kickers play. After all, Bulow played and coached under Cowlishaw for much of his career, so they’ll probably have some similarities. Expect him to try and boost Richmond’s offense to try and break them out of their current four match winless run. They’ll be helped on Monday night because they haven’t played in over a week while Penn FC last played on Friday.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC is in the middle of their hottest run in years and they’re hoping they can top Richmond a second time to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches. They had a physical game on Friday against the Bethlehem Steel, but they kept a few players in reserve who should still be fresh for Richmond. That includes some of the typical starters like Aaron Dennis, Ken Tribbett, and Saalih Muhammed.
Penn FC’s unbeaten run has been fueled by a plethora of goals courtesy of multiple players. Tribbett and Isaac Osae have each scored twice and Lucky Mkosana has scored six goals in just the last four matches. If he scores again on Monday, that’ll make five matches in a row for him.
What to expect: Richmond is looking to turn their season around before it’s too late, but it’s a pretty tall order for them to try and shut down one of the longest unbeaten runs in the USL Eastern Conference (only Cincinnati has a longer unbeaten run at the moment). And it’ll be doubly difficult for them because they have not won on the road yet this season.
Richmond will want to take advantage of their fresher legs and try to keep Penn FC playing on their heels. The only team to win on City Island this season was the Ottawa Fury and that’s how they managed to keep Penn FC out of rhythm that night. If they can manage that, then Penn FC won’t get a chance to put many shots on goal. It’ll also give the Kickers their best chance at scoring a few of their own as the Penn FC defense hasn’t been as stingy in recent weeks as they were at the beginning of the season.
Penn FC finds themselves in a situation where, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They started out this season barely able to score and it took them more than a month to get a win because of that. Now they’re racking up the goals with a combination of speed on the wings and quality finishing from strikers like Osae and Mkosana. Expect to see plenty of that Monday night, although there’s a chance that Osae won’t be available after he appeared to hurt his leg late in the Bethlehem match.
If Penn FC gets up early, they may take their foot off the gas as they try to conserve energy for their trip to Ottawa on Saturday. But they learned their lesson during the last match against Richmond, so don’t expect them to slow down too much unless they get ahead by two goals. A last second equalizer is always a possibility.
PREDICTION: Richmond is fresher, so I think they’ll surprise folks by scoring first. But Penn FC has played well from behind this season, so I think they’ll rally and get a win by a 2-1 scoreline.