Can Lexington stay hot at home against the Kickers?
Lexington SC (4-5-9, 10th in USL1) hosts the oldest active professional club in America, the Richmond Kickers (6-7-6, 7th in USL1) on Saturday, July 29th at Toyota Stadium; kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm EST/6 pm CST, and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.
Richmond got the best of Lexington the first time they faced when the Stockley’s boys in green traveled to City Stadium on May 20th, falling 2-1 in a match that was not as close as the final score would suggest. However, that match will be 70 days in the past by kickoff, and a lot has changed for both sides.
For Richmond, they come into Toyota Stadium having dropped their last match to the Hailstorm 3-1 in Northern Colorado, and the Kickers have not won a road match since April 29th (a 2-1 win over Fuego on June 10th.) Although Richmond is coming off a loss and has a better road record, I would not underestimate them. Richmond is outside the playoffs by a goal difference of -2, as they are tied with Omaha on points at 25. They have scored in all their last 5 games (well, 4 out of 5 since their 1 goal against NoCo was an own goal.) Lastly, Richmond has one of the soundest backlines in the country due to the efforts of Barnathan, Aune, and Cole, who are top 3 in the entire league in block per 90 (Barnathan at 1.3 with Cole and Aune tied at 1.2.) Richmond as a team is very similar to Lexington across many different stats, so Saturday could make for an exciting matchup as both teams push for the final playoff spot.
For Lexington, Coach Stockley and his boys will be looking to capture the same magic they did last week that saw them end their 4-match losing skid and pick up their biggest win in club history when they blew the doors of the red-hot Owl of Omaha. Lexington head into the match as the 3rd best team at creating big chances this season (33) against a Richmond side that likes to slow build to their attack with just 21 big chances created. It will be interesting to see if Coach Stockley keeps the 3-5-2 formation that propelled them to the victory (off of just 2-3 days of training) or if he will go back to the 4-4-2 that he has run all season. The new formation plays more to Lexington’s personnel strengths and will keep the magic flowing from last week into Saturday night.
Both sides like to control the ball in the midfield, with Richmond playing a more possession-based offense than Lexington’s counter-attacking style against Omaha. Look for this game to be very similar to the Omaha game for Lexington, but they will need to cut down on their mistakes, leading to some terrifying moments that could have ruined the clean sheet. Lastly, I expect Lexington to keep the intensity we saw on Saturday, as even though Coach Stockley’s side picked up 5 yellow cards, he still needs to sub off a single player with a yellow. Stockley needed the lads to play their game to right the ship, and I expect more of the same going into this match and the remainder of the matches this season.
Players to Watch
Emiliano Terzaghi – the Kickers leading goal scorer and 3rd in the league’s golden boot race, has been Richmond’s go-to man all season. Terzaghi has 9 goals on the season, with 4 coming in Richmond’s last 5 matches. Terzaghi will be a focal point of Lexington’s defensive strategy, much like Meza was the previous week.
Terique Mohammed – Last week’s Man of the Match for his 2 assist game, Mohammed and fellow wingback Tate Robertson thrived in Stockley’s 3-5-2 formation, allowing both to go on the attack more without weakening the backline. Mohammed’s versatility and defensive ability will be crucial against Richmond, as he is among Lexington’s top 3 in tackles, interceptions, and clearances per 90. Additionally, look for the Canadian to hopefully pick up his first goal of the season after many great shots have yet to find the back of the net.
Lexington SC 2 – 1 Richmond Kickers
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Photo By: Jacob Bramley