Saturday, January 25, 2014

Richmond Kickers

For being one of the older continuous teams in the US, the Richmond Kickers were happy just hanging around in the USL. When the NASL was rebuilding after having teams stolen by the MLS, big market clubs were looking to make the jump from lower leagues like the NPSL. The fear of oversaturating the league with new unproven teams was present in the NASL office. This was when the Kickers front office made a call. The team boasted their almost 26 year history, and a 20,000 seat stadium. This was an easy call for the league to make. As sort of a lifetime achievement award, the Kickers were given the thumbs up on being tier two. They used the mostly the same roster in their first season, and with the new teams like Milwaukee and Detroit still building up, the Kickers were in the middle of the league. That year, a new rivalry was established with the Northern Virginia Cavalry. The Commonwealth Cup would go to the winner on points between the teams. Later, it was a round robin system when Norfolk joined the USL. To compete with the likes of the Indy Eleven, and Cosmos, the Kickers went out and made some moves in the off season. The 2020 season would see a Cuban striker that defected during the Gold Cup, a former MLS defender from Virginia, a 2nd tier Spanish defender signed as a free transfer, and a Danish goal keeper signed as a free agent from Minnesota United. The Kickers were loaded up on talent, and finished 6th in the league after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. They brought in 2 sensational youth midfielders to help connect the sides of the field. The roster was transforming away from their USL side to a more high-caliber attack force. 2021 wasn’t a dream season for them, their Cuban forward tore his ACL, and the Spanish defender was sold to the Flamingos. A bottom half finish wouldn’t deter the team. With a healthy Cuban, and the signing of a talented striker from Cameroon the Kickers were ready to compete. A loan move from the Fire sent a good defender, upset about playing time, to Richmond. He manned the back and helped the Kickers keep the lowest Goals Against Average in the NASL. A loss in the playoffs on PKs knocked them out. After two more seasons, the fan base continued to grow as they had over 16,000 people on average. The Kickers were battling for the playoffs every year, but not winning. The coach was on the hot seat to get things done. He brought in another good class of academy players. The solid core that was playing with them for the last 6 seasons had the right tools, and won the Soccer Bowl. The coach’s job was saved. Two more seasons later, the Kickers returned to the Soccer Bowl, but lost to the Rowdies. The team captivated a city and mixes with the big boys in the US Open, and NASL. They might not have the money to compete in the Championship, but they’re smart play could get them there. The crest is close to the current, but I cleaned it up a bit. The idea was there, but no gradients, and I simplified it a lot. The home is really basic, but I wanted a classy look for the team. I thought black and red on the clash was more unique than black and white, so I made something a 3rd grader would think was cool.

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