Shaping the 2022 Richmond Kickers for the USL League 1 season

Possible Kickers Replacements


Welp, the season is now over with the Richmond Kickers making a playoff appearance for the first time in 6 years. One (mainly me) started to ponder who the Roos should focus on for the 2022 season. Knowing that the landscape of US Soccer is about to change with the incoming birth of MLS3 (@dirtysouthsoccer), all MLS 2 sides in USL will be leaving at the end of the 2021 season.  Also, a few teams might be changing divisions in the upcoming months. So, to pass the time with no Kickers PLUS, the offseason is to add the corner (see what I did there) we are going to try and fill some of the holes that the 2021 Kickers faced. 

How we will do this be by first telling why the position needs to be filled and providing a player to come in for that spot. We will have a realistic pick and fantasy pick for each position because what is the point of doing this if you can’t dream a little bit.

Starting Center Back 

The first position we are looking to fill in the Center Back Spot. With the recent retirement of Ivan Magalhaes, this will be the 3rd year in a row that Kickers have lost a key defensive player. Based on watching countless hours of Kickers Soccer (shameless plug for my podcast @rivercity93), Darren tends to like center backs that are both good in the air,  long-range passing while having another who good a ball progression. Ivan and Jalen have done an excellent job averaging 78% passing completion and 120 clearance on the season. Here is a list of a few players who can help fill the void in the Kickers defense. 


Realistic Choice: 

  • Kevin Politz  Toronto FC 2 USL League 1 
    • Most saw Kevin Politz move from USL Championship side Hartford to TFC 2 as a move for him to get into the first team at Toronto. However, that plan didn’t work, and with them moving to MLS3, one has to figure out that there will be many roster changes in the future. Compared to our CB duo last year, Politz is a much better passer. He averages 89% passing accuracy in the opposition half and 92% passing overall while having around the same number of passing attempts as  Ivan and Jalen. Defensively, however, he lacks a little bit as he has half the amount of clearances and blocks as the duo with 66 and 18, respectively. Adding a player like Kevin would show the defense is looking to move a little bit further up the field and hold on to the ball a little bit more. 


      • Chance of the move happening: 3 roos out 5 


Fantasy Choice 

  • Hugh Roberts Charlotte Independence  USL Championship 
    • *Excuse me as I clear my throat* OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH HUGHHHHHHH YOUUUUU GOT WHAT I NEEEEDDDDD. Okay, so before we get into the gritty grind of stats, let’s just say what everyone is thinking, it would be amazing to have Hugh come back to Richmond. Since leaving the Kickers in 2016, he has made stops at Bethlehem Steel, Pittsburgh, and Charlotte. Hugh has been one of the more stand-out players in the championship on the defensive side of the ball. The chance of this happening might be slim, but one can dream, right? Let start by looking at the defensive side of the ball for Mr. Roberts; okay, tackling is not his strong suit as he is right around 51% for the season while below the Kickers’ starters at 66% on the season. Where he might lack in this, he makes up for in clearances with 129. When it comes to passing the ball, Hugh is an above-average passer in both pass accuracy (89%) and passes accuracy in the opposite half (78%). Adding Hugh to the team is a long stretch, but given that the defensive has lost a key defensive player over the last three years, adding a member with roots to the community, strong passing ability, and playoff experience would add to the team the Kickers tenfold. 


      • Chances of this happening: 1.5 roos out of 5  


Backup Striker

Moving on up to the next positions is one that Kickers have been struggling to fill for a while, but would you need to if you have the TWO TIME BACK TO BACK LEAGUE MVP ANDDDDD GOLDEN BOOT WINNER Emilinio Terzaghi!!!!!! But honestly, the backup striker position has been hit or miss really for the Kickers. From Luke Pavone in season 1 to Herran in season 2, not much production has come from that spot. Going into year 3, the Kickers must find a second option and goal scorer to take some pressure off Emi as he accounted for roughly half of the team goals. 


Realistic Choice: 

  • Thibaut Jacquel North Texas FC USL League 1
    • This choice makes sense for a couple of reasons, such as he played at Lionsbridge FC down in the 757 (Norfolk- Virginia Beach area). Jacquel has roughly the same number of starts as Herran but was way more productive in that minutes with four goals and ten key passes. Now, with Jacquel area, that will be an added addition will be his passing. Herran was more or less us as a late (usually 85th minute) sub coming on as an outlet. Herran’s passing was not as clean as some would have liked averaging a rough 67% on his pass and only two successful dribbles. Jacquel, on the other hand, averages 75% and has five successful dribbles on the season. Jacquel is a suitable backup option that starts the occasional game, giving Terzaghi a need for rest, who played 2,400 minutes. 
      • Chance of happening: 3.5 roos out of 5 


Fantasy Choice 

  • Shaan Hundal Ft. Lauderdale FC USL League 1 
    • Shaan Hundal is a fantastic player; let’s start there for one! Usually, a club with a player in the USL League One second team of the season wouldn’t let that player go quickly, but given the FTL is moving to MLS 3, and one has to figure Shaan is looking for a new club.  Adding Hundal might mean a change in the system, but he would be a welcoming addition to the team, crying out for a second goal scorer. Averaging around 67 mins per 90 for FTL, Hundal recorded 11 goals and three assists throughout the year. However, an area of growth for him is his passing, averaging around ten passes per 90 in 22 starts and passing 63.5 percent. One will have to think these numbers will improve at the next club; let’s just hope it’s with the boys in red. 
      • Chances of this happening: 1.5 roos out 5. 

Starting Center Mid

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the starting CM role for Kickers. Of course, we talked about it on the podcast, but this team was struggling early on to find a box-to-box midfielder. Midway through the 2021 season, the Kickers added Ethan Bryant on loan from San Antonio FC in the USL Championship to help fill in that spot. In 13 games, only subbing on for 1. Ethan showed his class and why he was on trial in Belgium. Bryant had nine key passes and four crosses on the season but failed to register an assist and only had four shots on target. The Strength in Ethan’s game, however, is his defensive stability. Defensively even with the limited amount of games he played, he averaged eight clearances, nine tackles, and * clearance on the year. The area in which he needs to grow is his passing ability, as he averaged 2.4 completed passes per 90 and passing completion of 66.5% in the opponent’s half. Given that Byrant is on loan and that almost every Kickers fan would like to have him back, for this article, we will just safely assume that he is going back to Texas to join a team that made a run to the USL Championship western conference final. 

Real Choice

  • George Acosta Ft. Lauderdale FC USL League 1 
    • Okay, so since Ethan is going back to his parent club, let’s go for a player that recently has been let go by his club. Acosta played in 21 games this season with three sub appearances. The Strength in him is easy to see, and that is him going forward. In 21 games this year, he averaged 11 shots on target with four goals and seven assists. To give you some context, our highest assists maker this year was Nil Vinyals with 4. The year he finished with 33 key passes, 24 key dribbles, and 84% passing completion, so adding to Kickers midfield would be a massive boost in making midfield more stable. However, defensively Acosta struggles as he only made 32% of tackles throughout the year with two clearances. So defensively, Acosta would need to improve to be a core part of the Kickers team. 


      • Chance of this happening: 4 roos of 5 


Fantasy Choice 

  • Jake Rozhansky New England Revs 2 USL League 1 
    • This player who can genuinely fill into the box-to-box role would be Rozhansky. The midfield was a crucial part of Revs 2 that just missed out on the playoffs in 2021, starting 23 games and averaging 84 minutes per 90. Rozhansky name might not have been on the score sheet, but he was a crucial part of Revs 2 offense with 31 key passes (averaging 1.34 key passes a game), six assists, and 86% passing completion in the opponents half. Defensively, Rozhansky is a strong player, averaging 64% in his tackling while also having 14 clearances and 13 blocks during the year. If you want to knock Rozhansky for anything, it would have to be his shooting ability which was low at two shots on target and one successful cross. 


      • Chances of this happening: 1 roo out of 5 


Starting Winger 

If there is any position needed for the Roos, it is the Right-winger position. The Kickers throughout the year had a reliable Left side winger in Jonathan Bolonas but on the right side tended to struggle to find a lockdown starter in that spot. Most would have thought that Oalex Anderson would have started there at the start of the year, but he only played four starts and was subbed on 21 times. Oalex going forward was a dangerous option (remember his goal against Chattanooga), scoring three goals on the season and three assists on the season. Defensively, however, is where he comes up short with only five successful tackles on the season and six clearances. The defensives looked very weak but merely when brought to play, which saw him pressed up the field in attack mode. Where Oalex needs to grow his game is in the ability to pass to the ball. The knock-on is that he is just known for his “pace” ability to get past defenders; despite only starting four games, he had 13 successful dribbles on the year. With three assists, he only averaged 59.1 on his passing attempts and roughly only 61 passes on the year. 


Real Choice 

  • Josh Coan North Carolina FC USL Championship 
    • Despite NCFC having a poor season, Josh Coan was a stand-out player for the side in their first year in USL League 1. Coan played in 28 games this season, starting 17 them roughly playing 60 mins per game. Coan might be more midfielder than a winger, but attacking wise there is no denying his talent with 17 successful dribbles, 20 key passes, and three assists on the year. Averaging 72.1 passing percentage shows Coan’s ability to pass the ball with high efficiency to his teammates. The side of the ball in which he can grow is on the defensive side of the ball. Despite winning 11 tackles on the season, he only had a tackle success rate of 64 percent.


      • Chance of this happening: 4 Roos out of 5

Fantasy Choice 

  • Kazu North Texas SC USL League 1 
    • So, let me just say, for starters, this is probably a little far-fetched (Somewhere Matt is reading this, rolling his eyes), but once again, we are doing this article to fit the needs best. Kazu truly stands out on the defense side of the ball averaging 20 tackles and 74.1 tackling percentage. Kazu made 27 apps on the season while only being subbed on eight times during the year. While not the focal point on the attack, Kazu was serviceable with six goals, three-assist, and 15 key passes in those. Kazu can grow his game at is in the final third when it comes to crossing as he only managed 16.3 on the season, way below Oalex 27.8 for the year. 
      • Chances of this move happening: 1 roo out of 5 

Backup Fullback 

It is fair to say that out of any positions on the field for the Kickers, the spot that has been most snake-bitten by injuries is the fullback spot. List just go down the list, Devante Dubose, Ian Antley, Juan Monticelli. The key to Darren’s system is getting the fullbacks high and wide to allow the winger to cut in and attack space. Unfornetly, that plan wasn’t able to happen, resulting in the fullbacks sitting back a lot more. Getting goals from your fullbacks is always a bonus, but the lack of offensive production was evident in the squad with only three assists, 16 key passes, and 1.6 successful crosses per 90. Defensively,  the fullbacks for the Kickers were solid, but there is room for growth. Kickers averaged roughly 67% on successful tackles, and 21 tackles won on average; the fullbacks provided strong cover on the wings. 

Realistic Choice 

  • Robby Dambrot Loudon United USL Championship 
    • Let’s start this off by going right up 95 north and looking at Robby Dambrot, who played Loudon United last year in 27 apps. Robby is a much more attack-minded FB in those starts as he had 26 successful dribbles and 12 key passes on the year. Defensively is where Robby struggles; however, with only 53% successful tackles on the year. 
      • Chances of the happening: 3 roos out of 5 

Fantasy Choice 

  • Clay Dimick Charlotte Independence USL Championship   
    • Next, we look at a team that has been rumored to drop down to USL League 1, and players, depending on how Charlotte wants to model their team, will be looking for a new squad. Last year, Clay played in 20 games, offering six successful dribbles, six successful crosses, and eight key passes with a 67% passing rate in opponents’ halves on the year. Offensively, Clay is solid but not great, but defensive is where he stood out with 72% successful tackles last year. 
      • Chances of this happening:  2 roos out of 5 

Backup Goalkeeper

Let me just go ahead and start this off by saying this….Akira Fitzgerald is the GOAT, the reigning USL League 1 Keeper of the year, and USL League 1 first team. And watch him despite his frame; he can make any save out there. He played in every game outside of one with a league record of 89 saves and 27 clearances. However, as we all know, father time is sneaking around the corner, and with Akira recently turning 34 years old and making a move to Player-Coach this past year, one has to wonder what the next move is for the Goalkeeper position. If you ask most Kickers supporters, his height and the number of shots he is forced to save are the main concern with Akira at Keeper. With Akira’s height, he is vulnerable to long shots and crosses as in the last three games of the USL season, including playoffs, teams made an effort to shoot from far and high against him as he knows to save shots close towards him.  We are not looking for Akira replacement, but a player who can come in a play 10-15 matches and allow Akira to take a rest cause we all know he needs it. 

Realistic Choice: 

  • Colin Shulter North Texas SC USL League 1 
    • We will start this off by looking at a Goalkeeper who just happened to be from Virginia and played in 10 games in USL League 1. Standing at 6’1”, Colin has made 30 saves, roughly three in those starts, a game, and has ten catches which are very close to Akira’s 13 on year.
      • Chances of this move happening: 4.5 roos out of 5


Fantasy Choice: 

  • Christian Herrera Tamoca Defiance USL Championship 
    • So like we did last year with Austin Aviza, maybe the Kickers can once again bring in a player who has ties to OCB. Seriously tho, what we saw from Herrera in his time in USL League 1 is that he serviceable goalkeeper when protected. In 18 games this season, Herrera had 58 saves which average out to  3.2 saves, a match that’s right on average with Akira’s on the year. Now the one downside in his play is how he deals with crosses, only clearing 7.
  • Chances of this move happening 2.5 out of 5 

So to round out this article, do I expect any of these moves to happen? Probably not, but the positions themselves need to be filled. So the Kickers can get over the hurdle and challenge for the title in 2022! If you are interested in following The Kickers and their push for a League Title, you can follow us @Rivercity 93 on Instagram, Twitter, and all Podcast hosts!

Elliott Barr

Two guys in the city of Richmond that are passionate about the home town Richmond Kickers. We talk or ramble about pre/post-game analysis, club history, and player interviews.