Richmond Kickers: Positive Signs in Preseason Defeat
Kickers went up against the Carolina Railhawks on Wednesday.
Wednesday night, the Kickers played host to the Carolina Railhawks in the second match between the clubs in seven days. Jason Yeisley scored within the first 10 minutes of the match, but ultimately Carolina secured a 2-1 victory. Despite the loss, there were many positives for Kickers fans to take from the match and only a couple points of concern.
Brian Ownby and Jason Yeisley continued to create dangerous chances together throughout the first half. Yeisley got the goal, and both players had good chances to tack on additional tallies. It was very rare that an attack would not feature at least one of these two, and generally both factored in heavily. Yeisley provides the vortex point for the offense in the traditional center forward channel but has enough agility to be more than the stereotypical target forward. With Ownby running at the defense, the two of them often produce quick connecting passes to unlock space and produce dangerous opportunities. Barring injury, these two are almost certainly penned into the starting 11 each week.
Each Brazilian played a half as a wing forward. Luiz Fernando played the first half with the aforementioned Ownby and Yeisley, and their presence opened up considerable space for him. He appears to prefer cutting inside onto his left foot at this point and produced many well-designed through balls for other attackers to run onto. Romulo played the second 45, and after shaking off a hard challenge early in the half, began to find his space on the left side. His highlight was a dangerous run late in the game that won a free kick just outside the penalty area. Overall Fernando impressed more, although that may in part be due to the supporting cast around him and game state.
Yudai Imura (seen below) looked far more confident and comfortable on the ball than he did at any point last year. Imura was always an intriguing player, but struggled to find the game when he was able to stay on the field. Whether it’s being fully healthy, being more comfortable in his surroundings, or other reasons, this version of Imura can make an impact in USL and seems likely to see a lot of minutes.
The defense got a full 90 minutes together. Braeden Troyer, William Yomby, Hugh Roberts, and Jalen Robinson appear to be the group that will begin the season as starters, so getting them time to gel can only help. This is a group that had the opportunity to play together last year, although I do not remember if the four of them were ever used together.
Room for Improvement
Carolina scored their first goal on a corner. Last year saw a whole lot of goals conceded off of corners, free kicks, and other crosses in general. Conceding again in this manner was discouraging–hopefully this gets worked out before next weekend.
The front six in the second half had a lot of trouble connecting with one another. Individually, each player had their moments, but as a unit there was a lot of disjointed play, and Carolina capitalized by dominating possession. I don’t know how often we’d ever see that group on the field together anyway, but in preseason fighting for minutes, you’d hope guys would be able to put their imprint on the game to earn first team minutes.
No trialists saw the field. It may very well be that Leigh wanted to use rostered players against NASL competition, but the dream that someone would force their way onto the field (other than the signed Lucas Paulini) may have died. We’ll see the status of the last few guys and any new faces from last weekend’s tryouts during Sunday’s preseason finale against VCU.
First half lineup: Taylor, Troyer, Yomby, Roberts, Robinson, Callahan, Paulini, Imura, Luiz Fernando, Ownby, Yeisley
Second half lineup: Taylor, Troyer, Yomby, Roberts, Robinson, Asante, Clowes, Romulo, Jane (Shiffman), Martin, Grant (Delicate)
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All images courtesy of James Loving Photography more of this match can be found here. Follow more coverage of the Richmond Kickers at RVAisRed.
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