NYRB II is back at home to take on the Richmond Kickers on Apr. 22.
This will be the first ever mid-week match for NYRB II, adding yet another bit of history to this inaugural season. Make sure you remember this moment folks, it will be the answer to a trivia question during a Red Bulls game in 2020. Don't worry, Papa Red Bull won't sell by then.
Like Charleston [Editor's Note: Were you working on a recap of that game?], Richmond is one of the older franchises in USL. The Kickers won the 1995 US Open Cup, ending the pre-MLS era of cup competition.
We talked to Ben Bromley, who covers the Richmond Kickers over at Black and Red United, about expectations, their relationship with DC United, and whether or not Ben is a Kicker if he covers the team.
On season expectations:
For Richmond, the goal is always to contend for a championship. The team has not missed the playoffs since 2003 and they have a record of success: the Kickers have four regular season championships, three playoff championships, and a US Open Cup all to their name, and their most recent cup came in 2013. The team has not done well in the playoffs recently, so a strong performance there is the goal.
On Richmond's affiliation with DC United:
It has been an interesting relationship for both sides. Richmond has received a number of D.C. United loanees over the years, even before the new MLS-USL affiliation has started. However, due to the ups and downs of MLS seasons, the Kickers have never really had four United players on loan at the same time with any regularity. Rumor has it that the Kickers tried to get more solidity in the deal this season, but it has been much the same: so far, there have been an average of 2 D.C. United players on loan. This may be the last season for the deal, with D.C. United rumored to be starting a USL team of their own in the next season or two.
Do you think NYRB II and Richmond will have a rivalry like RBNY-DC United?
No, I don't. Richmond already has its rivalries with some of the long-standing USL teams, and their primary rival is the Charleston Battery; the Harrisburg City Islanders and the Rochester Rhinos are other main rivals for the team. With United likely to get its own USL team in the next couple of years, I would assume the Baby Bulls would focus their ire on them.
Who are the three players to watch on Richmond?
Matthew Delicate is always a player to watch, even though he isn't on the scoreboard yet this season; he is the Kickers' all-time leading scorer, and started the season as the all-time leading scorer in USL's short history. Jason Yeisley is a player that has always had a lot of potential for the Kickers as an attacker, even though injuries to other players forced him to play center back in 2012. He suffered a concussion in 2013 and still couldn't find his scoring touch in 2014, but he already has a brace this year. And finally, William Yomby is a center back, the rock of the Kickers' defense, and sometimes captain.
On Richmond's style of play:
The Kickers have had a very reliable style over the past couple of years, playing a 4-2-3-1 with a lot of exchanging between the members of that midfield three. With the midfielders allowed to cut into the middle, the fullbacks are given ample opportunity to jump into the attack; this is where you could see Sascha Goerres, the team's left back and a crafty veteran of over a decade in USL. They love to get the ball in space and run at defenders, so quick transitions and counterattacks are something with which the Baby Bulls will have to deal. There are aspects of the system that are similar to what D.C. United run, but it was developed by Leigh Cowlishaw (head coach since 2000) completely separate of any influence of D.C. United.
On how NYRB II can shut down that style of play and win this match?
Break down or bypass the defensive midfielders. Samuel Asante and either Mike Callahan or Fred Owusu Sekyere will start, and they like to make things choppy in the midfield. They will harry and pressure anyone who comes there way, trying to force a turnover and put the counter-attack on. If the Baby Bulls can prevent them from having a good game, they will be doing well.
Now, the most important question: Ben, are you a Kicker?
Of course! I actually hate covering the US Open Cup when these two teams inevitably meet, but I am torn as for to whom to root; luckily I am in the pressbox for those games, so cheering is discouraged. The atmosphere is really great and relaxed, the quality of the play is good, and the city is slowly getting a more established soccer culture.
NYRB II goes up against Richmond at 7:30 pm, the match will be streamed on YouTube or www.newyorkredbulls.com/live.
Will you watch? Are these interviews engaging? Do you resent me for not keeping up with my recaps?