Match: Penn FC at Richmond Kickers
Date: Saturday, August 18th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: City Stadium (Richmond, VA)
Refs: REF: Javier Santos Escobar AR1: Benjamin Wooten AR2: Ben Pilgrim 4TH: Neil Morrissette
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required)
How Richmond will look: Richmond had an impressive performance on City Island the last time these teams met. It looked like their 2-1 victory back in July would help jump start the second half of their season. But that’s not how it ended up working out. Richmond has only managed to earn one point in seven matches since the win over Penn FC. To make matters worse, they’re scoreless in their last five matches. Ouch.
If Richmond is looking to right the ship, then it makes sense that they’ll want to do it against a team that they’ve already defeated twice. So look for them to press Penn FC to see if they can create some mistakes for them to capitalize on to try and bust up their scoreless streak. From there they will most likely park the bus and try to get another goal on the counter.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC had a tough loss in Cincy but they were very much in that game before FC Cincinnati’s goal in the 80th minute. The boys in blue haven’t managed to find a win during their current stretch of games on the road, but they’ve stayed competitive each time. But that fact that they’ve kept games close only to walk away with nothing to show for it has to be doubly frustrating.
An interesting element that will be back in play Saturday night is that Tommy Heinemann should be eligible for selection after making an appearance as a substitute against FC Cincinnati. Having Tommy at striker would completely change the Kicker’s defensive gameplan and having a big target like him would make things easier for whoever Penn FC decides to try playing out wide.
What to expect: This will be the fourth time these teams have met, so will we see a repeat of any of the earlier results? Their first match was an Open Cup clash, and both sides fielded rosters with multiple substitutes. That one might not be so representative. Back in June, Penn FC went up by two goals before conceding a late goal to Richmond. July’s match was just the opposite with Richmond scoring early before allowing a late penalty to Penn FC.
It feels like Raoul Voss has enough depth to the roster that he’ll be able to make some changes in order to avoid the mistakes of the July match. For starters, Penn FC has had a full week’s rest, so they shouldn’t play as flat as they did back in July. You should also expect Voss to go with a more attack minded lineup for Saturday’s match because if the Kickers can’t manage to score right now, one goal should be enough.
But Penn FC doesn’t have to go all out from the first whistle to try and score. The Kickers defense has struggled the most in the second half of their recent matches. In the last three matches, for example, they’ve allowed five goals during the second half. Fortunately for Penn FC, they’ve generally played much better during the second half in recent weeks. So even if the match is level after halftime, Penn FC could always try to turn things up to eleven after the break.
The key player for Penn FC Saturday night will be their veteran forward Lucky Mkosana. Lucky’s goal scoring is what helped kick off their run of good form back in June, and the best way for them to make some positive moves is to get him some good delivery once again. There’s been several times in the last few matches where he’s been just a step or two away from a certain goal. If the offense can get back into Lucky’s rhythm, then he’ll be the most dangerous scorer on the field.
PREDICTION: These teams ought to have each other figured out by now. I think Penn FC uses their return to Richmond to finally capitalize on the promising moments they’ve had in recent weeks. It should be exciting though, I’m thinking it might end up 3-2 in favor of Penn FC.