The following comes directly from the Richmond Kickers:
RICHMOND, VA – (Tuesday, August 16, 2016) – The oldest rivalry in American professional soccer history continues this Wednesday, August 17 when the Richmond Kickers (11-6-6) host the Charleston Battery (10-5-7) at City Stadium. Rivals for over two decades, Saturday’s match marks the 58th meeting between the Kickers and the Battery.
Charleston leveled the all-time series record at 24-24-8 last year when the Battery edged the Kickers with a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory in the 2015 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Scoreless through regulation, the Kickers took the lead two minutes into the first overtime period on an own goal but Charleston avenged the defensive mistake with two goals in five minutes in the second period.
The rivalry continued in Charleston last month when the Battery gained the series advantage with a 2-0 victory at MUSC Health Stadium. Despite outshooting the Battery 14-8 and gaining an advantage after Charleston was reduced to 10 men in the second half, the Kickers could not overcome the deficit from a pair of first half goals by Taylor Mueller and Heviel Cordoves in a span of seven minutes.
The Kickers enter the mid-week match up on a seven game unbeaten streak following a 1-1 draw against FC Cincinnati four days earlier. Midfielder Sunny Jane gave the Kickers a second half lead but Cincinnati rallied for the equalizer with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation to maintain third place in the USL Eastern Conference standings.
Charleston narrowly missed the chance to leapfrog the fourth place Kickers in the standings when FC Montreal snapped their eight-game unbeaten streak with a 3-1 scoreline. The Battery conceded goals on either side of the break before Maikel Chang pulled one back late in the second half but could not recover before Montreal’s third tally solidified their win on the road.
The longtime rivals conclude the three-game series at City Stadium for the Kickers regular season home finale on Saturday, September 17.
Players to Watch
Kickers: Defender Hugh Roberts (#8) has played every minute of every game during the 2016 campaign, anchoring the Kickers backline to nine shutouts. The native of Olney, MD has amassed over 5,000 minutes in a Kickers uniform over three seasons after being discovered at the club’s 2014 pro tryouts. Midfielder Sunny Jane (#10) notched his fifth goal of the season with the opening tally in last week’s 1-1 draw against third-place FC Cincinnati. The Lesotho National Team forward signed with Richmond prior to the 2016 season and now ranks second on the team with nine points. Goalkeeper Travis Worra (#48) is slated to return to Richmond on loan from the club’s official Major League Soccer affiliate, D.C. United. Posting back-to-back shutouts against Pittsburgh and English Premier League side Swansea City last month, he has started 11 matches in his sophomore season with D.C. United’s first team after making 12 appearances in goal for the Kickers on loan during the 2015 campaign.
Battery: Recovering from an injury-blighted first year in 2013 that restricted him to just six games played, Cuban midfielder Maikel Chang (#12) returned to full strength last season and has appeared in all but one match during the 2016 campaign. Leading the team with five assists, he recently added his third goal of the season against FC Montreal to avoid the shutout. Forward Romario Williams (#9) joined the Battery prior to the 2016 season on loan from Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact, making an immediate impact and leading the club with nine goals and 19 points. Picked third overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, the U23 Jamaican National Team forward made two appearances with the Impact’s first team last season. Cuban goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper (#0) returned for his fourth season with the Battery after defecting from the Cuban National Team before a World Cup Qualifier in 2012. Splitting time in goal with Alex Tambakis, he has made 10 appearances in 2016, posting a goals against average of 1.10 this season.