by Taylor Sorrels (@taylorsorrels)
Like Christian Laettner says in those ubiquitous March Madness commercials this year, you can’t rest on your laurels. Louisville City FC, fresh off the high of a win in their first ever game against lowly St. Louis FC, travels to Richmond this weekend for its first road test against a very good Richmond side. In case you missed our hard-hitting in-depth preview of the Kickers, they’re a fairly old side as far as USL goes with quite a bit of historical success, and have the benefit of an affiliation deal with nearby D.C. United in MLS.
So what can we expect on Saturday? Fewer spectators than Elsie’s last game, for starters. Richmond’s City Stadium is a very nice park and holds up to 9,000, but their average attendance is about 3,000. That said, the Red Army is a strong supporters group so there will probably be noise. Good thing our players are impervious to distractions and hatin’ in general!
As far as actual play on the pitch goes, Richmond is nothing if not consistent in their approach to play, with the longest tenured coach in the league in Leigh Cowlishaw. They also return eleven players from last year’s squad which won had a 21-game unbeaten streak and were near the top in the table for most of the season, finishing with a 13-12-3 record. One thing Richmond is long on is experience, with many players having been with the team for at least four seasons. Matthew Delicate (USL’s second leading goal scorer last year with 14), George Davis IV (11 goals last season), and newcomer Brian Ownby are players to keep an eye on, along with forward Jason Yeisley. The good news for Louisville City is the Kickers’ goalkeeper, Ryan Taylor, is young and his inexperience is something that Elsie can capitalize on.
This will be a tough test for Louisville City, but the good news is they have the element of surprise on their side, being a new team without much tape to glean data from. We expect O’Connor to continue to try and play the high press and force Richmond’s back four into mistakes and goal scoring opportunities. Richmond’s attack is as dangerous as any, so communication among Louisville City’s back line and the midfield will be crucial. Expect Charlie Adams or Juan Guzman to try to stay home a bit more as a shield for the back four. Hopefully the groin pull Guzman suffered in the St. Louis game was minor, as there’s a strong need for some defensive bite in the midfield against Richmond, especially after Elsie was overpowered in that area last week.
I expect this game will play out similarly to last week’s, with both teams feeling each other out for the first 10-20 minutes before one or the other takes over the midfield. If Richmond gets an early goal, don’t be surprised to see O’Connor find a way to put Ilija Ilic on the field for some additional attacking verve. Louisville City seems to like attacking down the flanks thus far, so
Projected Louisville City Starting XI: GK: Goodwin Defenders: Burke, Shanosky, West, Reynolds Midfield: Dacres, Abend, McCabe, Rasmussen, Adams Forward: Fondy
Projected Richmond Kickers Starting XI: GK: Taylor Defenders: Yomby, Basso, Robinson, Mishu Midfield: Davis, Ownby, Callahan, Asante Forward: Delicate, Yeisley