Photo courtesy Jessica Hendricks / Richmond Kickers
The Richmond Kickers 25th season saw the side make history off the field as the club posted its highest average attendance in club history, but the team went through an uncharacteristic season on the field as it missed USL Cup Playoffs for the first time in the league's modern era. The Kickers' attacking struggles meant finding wins proved hard to come by throughout the year, as the side only managed consecutive wins once in the regular season.
With the club having been granted a 40-year lease at City Stadium, however, there was plenty of progress for the Kickers off the field as the initial investments of a planned $20 million in upgrades to the venue began to be implemented. With the side having some bright spots over the season, and some new additions coming to try and boost the attack, the River City Red Army will be hoping to have more to cheer when 2018 comes around.
Record: 8-16-8, 32pts
Place: 14th in the Eastern Conference
Goals For: 24
Goals Against: 36
USL Cup Playoffs: Did not qualify
2017 leaders: Alhaji Kamara (4 goals), Fred Owusu Sekyere (3 assists), Matt Turner (60 saves)
For all their attacking struggles, the Kickers remained a solid defensive unit, finishing tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference in goals against, with four teams that reached the playoffs conceding more goals than Richmond in the regular season. That helped the side earn six of its eight wins in the regular season on home turf, including positive late-season results against both the Rochester Rhinos and major rival the Charleston Battery, both of which ended in the top four of the conference. While the late improvement in form came too late for a playoff berth, it could provide some impetus for the side moving forward.
The Kickers' attacking struggles were too much for the side to overcome, with the side scoring a league-fewest 24 goals in 32 regular season games. Those attacking issues came to a head most during a 13-game win-less streak that saw the side held scoreless eight times over its course, and proved the key stanza of a season that ended well out of the postseason race.
Franck Tayou's time with the Kickers was short, but it provided one of the most memorable moments of the season at City Stadium as his volleyed finish in stoppage time earned a 1-1 draw for the side against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Matt Turned produced a good reaction save to keep out FC Cincinnati's Andrew Wiedeman's fierce effort from the right side of the penalty area, and then recovered quickly to smother the rebound.