Preview: Real Maryland v. Richmond Kickers
By Matt Skinner
Real Maryland (3-8-0) will be aiming to celebrate Independence Day by bringing an end to the Richmond Kickers’ (6-4-2) four game USL-2 unbeaten streak when the teams meet this Friday at 4PM at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
The Monarchs currently sit 8th in the ladder after its narrow 2-1 defeat to USL-2 rivals Crystal Palace Baltimore on Sunday. Palace was the first to score in the tightly contested fixture after Cecil Lewis found the net in the 34th minute. However, the scores were level two minutes later when Monarchs marksman Nilson Perez struck for the equalizer. The visitors managed to score the winner in the 57th minute when Sergio Flores’ strike found the back of the net.
“This was a very important game for us and we came out second best,” laments head coach Silvino Gonzalo on the loss. “We had many opportunities to win the game but we didn’t capitalize on them. We need to work harder.”
Richmond arrives to the Maryland SoccerPlex on the back of its 3-0 loss away on Tuesday night to MLS side New England Revolution in the third round of the US Open Cup. With the knock-out competition behind them, the Kickers will be focusing on extending its impressive USL-2 run of form.
The Virginia team was away to Pittsburgh in last weekend’s fixtures, where it comfortably beat the Riverhounds 3-1. Coupled with its previous 4-1 victory over Bermuda and goalless draws against Harrisburg and Cleveland, the Kickers are now unbeaten in four games and sit comfortably in 4th place in the ladder.
One player hoping to contribute to the visitor’s cause will be on-loan signing Ricky Schramm. The forward is currently on a developmental contract with MLS side New York Red Bulls and has been loaned out to Richmond to gain further match experience.
The player managed to get his name on the score sheet last weekend against Pittsburgh.
“This game will be crucial for us,” states assistant first team and Super 20’s coach Roger Fernandez. “We will need to step our game up against the Kickers and keep a solid defense. Furthermore, we need to shoot some balls that are on target.”
With the recent loaning of Monarchs’ back-up goalkeeper Christian Monterro to Columbian second division side Academia F.C., further responsibility will fall on first-choice ‘keeper Emilio Zelaya to prevent Richmond from scoring. Coach Silvino is also without the services of defender Matthew Eby, who is on national duty with the United States at the World Deaf Football Championships.
Real Maryland’s game against Richmond will be the first of two USL-2 fixtures played this weekend at the Maryland SoccerPlex. On Sunday the Monarchs face USL-2 defending champions, the Harrisburg City Islanders. Supporters are urged to come to both games in what promises to be an exciting weekend!
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