Richmond Kickers: Takeaways from the loss at Tormenta FC

Another week of a missing attack and individual errors leaves the Richmond Kickers winless in five and struggling for answers.

The Richmond Kickers were on the road against the best defense in the league. Coach David Bulow made changes to the starting XI, looking to find the formula that would kick-start Richmond’s season. The lineup looked defensive enough to garner a road point. However, everything played out in similar fashion.

The Kickers dominated possession and were far ahead in the passes completed stat. But the offense couldn’t find a rhythm or connection but as a result of slightly different cause this week, failing to register a single shot on goal. Then an individual lapse cost Richmond a goal, and ultimately, the game. So now what?

1) The Richmond Kickers Remaining Positive Stat

The loss to Tormenta was the sixth league match in a row without a win. And the fourth league match with a goal. Richmond ranks ninth in goals and shots on the season. Now tied for the second most goals conceded. Sure, the Kickers lead the league in passes completed, but without an end product, it’s a meaningless chart to top. This weekend’s upcoming match at Chattanooga marks the end of the first half of the season, but there is still one positive.

The crowd. I mentioned it recently, but in light of the recent results, it’s important to highlight this one again. Richmond are 1-4-1 on the road and 2-3-2 at home. The club sits dead last in the league’s Power Rankings. They can no longer look for easy matches coming up on the schedule or anticipate gaining points at home. But they can expect support—for now.

The Kickers, however, remain strong at the gate—currently the second best in USL League One. Richmond have averaged 3,474 through seven home matches this season, trailing only Forward Madison (4,089). The club is ahead of several independent USL clubs and all the MLS-owned USL clubs. Even those numbers must be considered against the past though. Attendance has dropped 25% since two seasons ago (thanks to Mike Pendleton for putting together these numbers each week).

A drop from Division Two to Division Three and a lack of winning results over the past few seasons are clear factors. Richmond still have half a year to right the ship on the field and ensure that 3,400 is their attendance valley when we look back in a few years.

2) Lack of Aggression

Coach Bulow talked about it in his post-match comments (in the video below). The Kickers need more intent and cohesion going forward. Not just in moments, but the full 90 minutes. For example, in the 58th minute, Scott Thomson is taking a throw-in just inside the opponent’s half. He has the chance to play Charles Boateng in behind the Tormenta defense. The same Boateng that the midfield simply couldn’t find all night. Instead, he picks option two and throws it back to the center back and status quo resumes.

Now that’s small. But for a team lacking goals—lacking shots on target—take any chance you have to get your forward in behind the opponent’s defense. Forgot shots, Richmond only had 4 touches of the ball in the opponent’s penalty box. The team simply has to find a way to turn all of that possession into attacking pressure inside the 18.

3) Keep Rotating the Midfield

Akira is golden. Outside of possibly Aboubacar Keita the backline is Richmond’s best. Eli Lockaby earned USL League One Team of the Week Honors. Boateng came in against Tormenta, while Daniel Jackson and Dennis Chin were on the bench. But for all of Boateng’s running to find the channel and speed over the top, the midfield couldn’t find him or at times chose to turn around for a backpass.

The biggest issue on Saturday wasn’t Ackwei’s error. That was costly, but a single moment. The midfield lacked the final pass into the attacker for nearly the entire match. Multiple times either completely missing the forward movement of Boateng or Gallardo, or being too safe with a sideways or backward pass.

Seemingly the only option left is to continue to mix up the midfield starters until Bulow finds a group that can create better chances—more accurate final passes. Passing accuracy in the attacking half against Tormenta was rough. Mwape was at 44% (likely a reason he was subbed out at the half), Maxi was one of only two players above the 73-74% range, at 77%. The other? Boateng at 100%, but the team rarely found him, as he ended his night with just 8 passes completed (but still a perfect rate).

Chattanooga is up next? Time to see which midfield rotate the Richmond Kickers have up next to test their luck.

Up Next: Chattanooga Red Wolves (5-4-3)

Last Time Out: 3-2 win against the Greenville Triumph.

Who, When & How

Richmond Kickers at Chattanooga Red Wolves

Saturday, 6/29, at 7:00 PM Eastern Time

Watch on ESPN+

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.