Richmond Kickers: Roster Evaluation – Who Stays and Who Goes? (Part 2)

In Part 2 we look at the defensive and attacking midfielders that made up the bulk of the Richmond Kickers roster. Who did enough to warrant a spot in 2020?

In Part 1, I set up the process being used here, a few disclaimers, and reviewed the 2019 goalkeepers and defenders. If you missed that article, start here. As a reminder, we are using a 4-2-3-1 formation and focusing on a two-deep depth chart for the Richmond Kickers. Additional roster spaces to add depth to the team will be addressed in the final piece. Now on to the midfield.

Defensive Midfielders

  • Jannik Eckenrode
    • Age: 25
    • 2019 Appearances: 13
    • 2020 Decision: Release. Never was able to break through to start on a regular basis. Typically used as a sub after the first month or so of the season. Given the team will likely need to sign a new fullback and defensive center mid, it’s unlikely Eckenrode returns for 2020.
  • Josh Hughes
    • Age: 27
    • 2019 Appearances: 22
    • 2020 Decision: Keep. Overall, I expect the Richmond Kickers to get younger in 2020 and continue that trend in years to come. At just 27 Hughes is the oldest midfielder on the team, but I do think he returns based on his experience, leadership in the locker room and his performance in 2019. With Troyer retiring, Hughes may be a crucial piece for the incoming head coach.
  • Sam Moore
    • Age: 18
    • 2019 Appearances: 1
    • 2020 Decision: N/A. Moore was a great story for the club, moving from the academy setup into the pro team on a USL Academy contract before joining UNC in the fall. While he could potentially be signed again under the academy contract deal for part of the summer, he shouldn’t factor into the plans to build out next year’s roster.
  • Nick Retzlaff
    • Age: 23
    • 2019 Appearances: 6
    • 2020 Decision: Keep. Retzlaff didn’t get a lot of opportunities but looked solid during his chances. Financially, you’d guess he is the most cost-effective of the three CDMs I’m keeping here. Given his age and potential to improve in the coming years, I like Retzlaff to feature more often in 2020 as the club switches to a new head coach and potentially new formations.
  • Maxi Rodriguez
    • Age: 24
    • 2019 Appearances: 23
    • 2020 Decision: Keep. Maxi was clearly Bulow’s go-to man in the center of the pitch to start the 2019 season. He had experience at the USL Championship level and is still only 24. But was replaced by Troyer upon returning to full fitness and never regained his guaranteed starting spot. Price-wise Rodriguez may be a toss-up, but if the staff think he can take a step forward and find consistency in 2020, I think he’s brought back. But I think only as someone competing for a spot and not as a sure starting XI member.
  • Braeden Troyer
    • Age: 26
    • 2019 Appearances: 18
    • 2020 Decision: N/A. Troyer announced his retirement prior to the final match of the season. If not, he would be firmly in the ‘Keep’ category.

  • 2020 Roster (4):
    • Signed: Hughes, Rogriguez & Retzlaff.
    • Needs: One new starting level defensive center midfielder. Troyer needs to be replaced and with the depth in the attacking midfielder, this is where the club should spend in the off-season – in regards to the midfield.

Attacking Midfielders

  • Alex Ainscough
    • Age: 24
    • 2019 Appearances: 4
    • 2020 Decision: Release. Admittedly, I’m on the fence here. At first, I had Ainscough as a sure ‘keep’. He, Retzlaff and Boehme all kind of sit in that same decision pool that will ultimately come down to how the staff evaluates them during training and behind the scenes. So perhaps it’s Alex in and Retzlaff out. Or if a player like Rodriguez isn’t coming back, the club signs these guys as competition and depth but looks for a new signing that has the pedigree to start day one.
  • Amass Amankona
    • Age: 24
    • 2019 Appearances: 2
    • 2020 Decision: Release. Started the two opening matches of the year before suffering a season-ending injury. We don’t know his current status and with a limited sample to go on, it’s hard to give Amass a spot on the roster at this point. I’d lean towards inviting him to pre-season tryouts to test his fitness levels and allow the new head coach to weigh in.
  • Greg Boehme
    • Age: 24
    • 2019 Appearances: 7
    • 2020 Decision: Keep. With just 7 appearances, Boehme was a toss-up for me. In his brief time, he showed promise and he fits the age profile. The fact that the club is sending him and Scott Thomsen to get their USSF C coaching license makes me think they see a future worth investing in.
  • Matt Bolduc
    • Age: 25
    • 2019 Appearances: 20
    • 2020 Decision: Keep. The Kickers assist leader in 2019, even with injuries and a few spells at right-back. Likes to run at defenses and seems to have the skill set Richmond is looking forward as they reshape into a more attack-minded team next season.
  • Joe Gallardo
    • Age: 21
    • 2019 Appearances: 25
    • 2020 Decision: Keep. Clearly one of, if not the, best player on the Richmond roster at the moment. At 21, the club has a gem on their hands and need to build around him.

  • Justin Grove
    • Age: 30
    • 2019 Appearances: 3
    • 2020 Decision: Release. Didn’t get much time on the field, nor were we given any injury reason for why he wasn’t in the 18 often. At 30 years-old, don’t expect Grove to be back with Richmond next season.
  • Ryley Kraft
    • Age: 21
    • 2019 Appearances: 8
    • 2020 Decision: Keep. Like Gallardo, this is a lock and where the club sees a core part of how they want to build the team in the future. Young, attacking, and able to play multiple positions. However, I’d want the 2020 coach to establish exactly where Kraft’s best position is so he can get more time developing. It’s possible Kraft could instead be used as the CDM that sits farther forward if the right replacement for Troyer is brought in or found within the current roster.
  • Lucas Mendes
    • Age: 21
    • 2019 Appearances: 2
    • 2020 Decision: Release. Either he will be invited into pre-season tryouts with the new coach or will move on to a new team prior to that window.
  • Mutaya Mwape
    • Age: 23
    • 2019 Appearances: 23
    • 2020 Decision: Keep. A stand out for the Kickers in 2019 at only 23, Mwape is a great threat on the wing. With the right striker partnership, his assist and goal numbers could flourish next season.
  • Luke Pavone
    • Age: 24
    • 2019 Appearances: 4
    • 2020 Decision: Release. Like Mendes & Grove, we just didn’t see enough from Pavone throughout the year to warrant a spot – yet. Invite to winter tryouts.
  • 2020 Roster (6):
    • Signed: Gallardo, Mwape & Bolduc, Kraft, & Boehme.
    • Needs: For the two-deep, one. This group is talented enough to create chances and win matches with the right strikers and solid defense. However, we fully know the side will be adding attacking players in the winter as the roster rounds out.

Up next look for the third and final part of this series. That will evaluate the strikers and summarize the off-season needs for the Richmond Kickers.

Nathan Reynolds

Writer covering the Richmond Kickers in USL League One. Experience as a WordPress developer, editor, podcaster, and writer for European and US soccer leagues.