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Kickers Find Winning Touch, Edge Steel FC

By Staff, 07/22/17, 10:11PM EDT


Samuel Asante strike gives Richmond long-awaited victory

Photo courtesy Richmond Kickers

RICHMOND, Va. – Two extended streaks came to an end as the Richmond Kickers rallied to down the Bethlehem Steel FC, 3-2, at City Stadium on Saturday. A blitz to start the second half that saw Oliver and Luiz Fernando find the back of the net for the hosts inside the first two minutes after the restart helped the Kickers erase a one-goal halftime lead for Bethlehem that came courtesy of a brilliant free kick from Aaron Jones. USL 20 Under 20 selection Auston Trusty found Ken Tribbett in front of the net in the 69th minute for the equalizer but Samuel Asante delivered the winner with a driven shot inside the far post late in the proceedings. Richmond moves to 3-10-6 overall and 3-3-3 at home; halting a 13-match winless streak. Steel FC entered the contest unbeaten in its last eight but fell to 8-7-3 overall and 4-4-0 on the road.

39’ – BST – Aaron Jones
46’ – RIC – Oliver (Luiz Fernando)
47’ – RIC – Luiz Fernando (Jalen Robinson)
69’ – BST – Ken Tribbett (Auston Trusty)
87’ – RIC – Samuel Asante

Three Things That Matter:

  • 1. Oliver’s intervention halted a 275-minute goalless streak for Richmond that stemmed from Luiz Fernando’s 40th minute opener in a 1-1 draw between the two teams on July 1 at Goodman Stadium. Fernando’s strike came in quick succession and the flurry was a just reward for a Kickers team that went into the break down one despite outshooting Bethlehem, 9-3, in the first half. The two goals came inside a minute and marked just the third time this season that the Kickers have scored two or more goals in a league match. Asante’s strike gave Richmond its first three-goal performance of the campaign and saw the Kickers through to their first win in four all-time meetings with Bethlehem.
  • 2. Conversely, the letdown was counter to the consistently stout defense that has quietly fueled Bethlehem’s ascension into playoff position. After allowing two or more goals in three of the first four games to start the season, Steel FC had yielded one goal or less in 13 of 14 outings since, including nine straight following a 2-1 loss at FC Cincinnati on May 20. The squad was without USL Rookie of the Year candidate Jake McGuire who has posted five clean sheets and a 0.83 GAA in 12 starts between the posts this season. Head coach Brendan Burke instead turned to El Salvador U17 National Team member, Tomas Romero, a Philadelphia Union Academy product still just under five months shy of his 17th birthday. Romero became the youngest goalkeeper in USL history when he started the season opener against the Rochester Rhinos.
  • 3. The victory bumped Leigh Cowlishaw’s side out of the Eastern Conference cellar but the Kickers still have a lot of ground to make up if the club is going to add to a run that has seen the team appear in every USL Cup Playoffs in league history. The loss leaves a much-improved Steel FC group steady at one point shy of the team’s 2016 total, but Bethlehem has gone nearly three months without dropping consecutive decisions and may get its own chance to play streak-stopper next time out against a Charlotte team without a loss in its last eight appearances - should the Independence get by a mid-week matchup with Richmond. Man of the Match

Samuel Asante, Richmond Kickers –  The midfielder’s first tally of 2017 proved to be the most vital of the four split between the two sides in the second half, giving the Kickers their first win since April.

Upcoming Games:
Richmond Kickers at Charlotte Independence – July 26, 7:00 p.m. ET, Sportsplex at Matthews
Bethlehem Steel FC vs. Charlotte Independence – July 29, 5:00 p.m. ET, Goodman Stadium

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