Since the Richmond Kickers held Louisville City FC without a goal May 21 in Virginia, the club has proven that defensive effort was no fluke. The Kickers have run up the United Soccer League’s Eastern Conference table recently thanks to a 10-game unbeaten streak they’ll carry into Saturday’s game at Louisville Slugger Field.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Here’s what to know about the Kickers.
Record: 12-6-8 (44 points) in 26 matches
Coach: Leigh Cowlishaw
History: Among the oldest continuously operating soccer franchises in the United States, the Kickers have a storied past since playing their first season in 1993, including a 1995 U.S. Open Cup championship (pre-Major League Soccer) and more recently the 2013 USL Pro regular-season title. The club calls 22,611-seat City Stadium home.
Series with LouCity: The Kickers have yet to beat LouCity in any of the clubs’ three meetings. Two were draws, including a May 21 contest in Richmond that finished scoreless. Last year, the Kickers also fell 3-0 on July 4 at Slugger Field.
Current form: Richmond is peaking at the right time having not lost since July 2. The first six in a row were victories before stingy defense yielded a trio of 1-1 draws and a 1-0 win Aug. 27 over Orlando City B. The Kickers’ 20 goals allowed are second-lowest in the 29-team USL.
What to know: LouCity last week released Conor Shanosky, opening the chance for Richmond to sign the defender who played parts of the 2013 and 2014 seasons for the Kickers. While Shanosky should bolster an already strong back line, LouCity and Richmond have a “gentlemen’s agreement,” coach James O’Connor said, that he won’t see the field Saturday. Should the clubs meet in the playoffs, Shanosky would be eligible.
Player to watch: Yudai Imura scored the bulk of his Kickers-high 9 goals during a hot stretch in July, when he found the back of the net six times in five games. Scoreless in four games since then, it would appear he’s due to strike again. Imura, 25, is a Japan native finishing up his first year playing in the United States.
Another to know: Tsotleho “Sunny” Jane, who visited Slugger Field last year as a member of Wilmington Hammerheads FC, will return as the Kickers’ second-leading scorer. Jane graduated from Trinity High School before starring at the University of Maryland. The 25-year-old forward — also a member of Lesotho’s National Team — has totaled 4 goals and 2 assists in 2016.