Sunday, July 14, 2024
Sunday, July 14, 2024

Kickers 1-0 FMFC: Heart ≠ Points

It’s just after noon as we traverse Interstate 76, passing north of Pittsburgh. At this point this ragtag crew of nine have logged over 33 hours in this RV in the past 81 hours. Bodies stiff, heads sore, and with roughly 9 hours still to go, a proper shower and familiar bed has become a dangling carrot for everyone onboard.

The highways running through coal country and the Rust Belt provide some of the most picturesque roadside scenery east of the Mississippi. This morning as we rolled through the Blue Ridge in the Minnie Winnie, I glanced out the window to the fog-covered fields between hill and dale, taking in the natural beauty of this rough and often unforgiving country. I felt lucky to be on this trip, surrounded by friends new and old. And even though the Irruption Tour is an exercise in sleep deprivation and debauchery, it’s proven to be recharging and grounding for the cold, soccer-less months ahead after the season is over.

Right. I probably should talk about the Richmond game.

Honoring Yogi

Last night the Richmond Kickers honored prolific football podcaster (and someone I’ve come to know as a friend) Elliot “Yogi” Barr as Fan MVP of the season. As someone who really only sees what makes it to my podcast feed and Twitter — which is a lot, he guests for and produces multiple podcasts — this was a well-deserved accolade for the sheer amount of life force Elliot puts into supporting not only the Kickers but recognizing, publicizing, and celebrating the impact Black players have had upon the game of football.

Elliot lives and breathes the Richmond Kickers, and is a vocal proponent of increasing the visibility of Black players and supporters, especially in the States. Last night’s game brought diaspora from far and wide, including Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, among others. Elliot and Kyle’s original twitter bet that kicked off the Henny Derby has snowballed from a bit of fun and banter between two friends into a cultural touchpoint, and one which will hopefully see generations of Black & Brown fans touch down in Madison and Richmond for many years to come. The Henny Derby is something that can and should be enjoyed by everyone, but it’s not for people who look like me. It deserves reverence, especially from my fellow caucasian fans who feel like everything is open for commentary and appropriation.

It was an absolute pleasure to see friends Eboni and Geno again, and to meet Rox in person after hearing him talk about his passion for this game, and his time in leadership with NYCFC SG the Third Rail on FTC’s podcast back when The Flock was first getting our bearings. I’ve tried to be a student of most things in my life and those folks all deserve a follow and attention when they speak (especially when Yogi is talking about being a good partner).

I’ll be the first to admit there are plenty of shitheads and bad actors on every side of this sport. Home fans who shake your hand and act friendly prior to the game and then later repeatedly whip you in the face with a flag while you’re trying to sing and drum for your team, or shout things about shooting injured opposition players in front of small children, or even directly threaten violence to your face — imagine having the stewards at your own grounds repeatedly tell you how to behave. Cheers, by the way, to the Richmond steward at the front of our section.

People like Elliot embody the beautiful side of this sport. It’s why when he sauntered up postgame to the little hangout spot we’d carved out next to where we’d parked the the RV, pulled out a massive pre-roll, lit it, and exhaled one of the best evil belly laughs I’ve ever heard — all I could do was laugh. Elliot smiled, passed the pre-roll around to anyone who wanted some, and shook everyone’s hand and thanked them for coming. He made it a point to make time to chat with David Magness’ young son Adam about any/everything 7 year-olds care about.

Richmond 1-0 FMFC

The boys played with heart last night. The urgency, hustle, and initiative which have been lacking in large part since early August were back, and at times we even played with a bit of swagger. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over: I’d rather lose 3-2 and try, than look lethargic and draw. The game was entertaining, exciting, and worth the trip.

The Lineup

Carl Craig rotated just two players from the lineup in the previous matchup vs Kickers, opting for Josiah Trimmingham instead of Keegan, Justin Sukow for Chino Perez. I want to stress the commitment to the effort every last player put forth last night, calling out Justin Sukow, Derek Gebhard, Connor Tobin, specifically. Their off the ball movement, defensive imposition, and attack-minded defending set up the first goal, and enabled the 2 up front to run into space and either receive passes or draw out defenders. Eric Leonard and Aaron Molloy both had great games, evoking many times a Scholes/Keane-ish pairing. Leonard had 4 tackles, 6 duels won, 2 interceptions, and 7 recoveries on the night, Molloy with a shot on target, 85% passing, and 7 recoveries as well.

Match Recap

The Flamingos struck first just inside the 8th minute, an efficient and brutal goal played from the back by Eric Leonard through the middle third to a looming Josiah Trimmingham. Trim’s first touch morphed into an effortless turn as he held off Ivan Magalhaes with one arm, sprinted down the right side of the 18 yard box, and fired home for an upper 90 finish. It was a true striker’s goal from a player typically deployed as a central defender, and against one of the best defenders and keepers in the league.

Video: Noah Canlas / Forward Madison FC

While Josiah’s minutes to goals ratio when deployed as a striker might not impress some skeptics, that single run of play ought to shut the mouths of his detractors. If he works on his close control and first touch in the offseason, he could be a legitimate goal threat next year. And before someone simply shrugs that sentiment off as naivete on my part, remember that the lower leagues are a prime spot to reinvent yourself as a player as there’s usually still runway left in the legs and career. At 24 years of age, Trim still has time.

The officiating was par for the course for USL, plenty of obvious fouls ignored, 8 yellow cards distributed, and a couple of questionable tackles inside the box waved off. I don’t want to bash this particular referee too much, mainly because many of the lower league officials employed by PRO don’t work as officials full time and are under-trained, but also because I think people who support USL clubs don’t want perfection, we just want some consistency (beyond being consistently bad).

Definitely not an illegal corner

Richmond’s equalizer would come just shy of the 32 minute mark, a far post header from Chris Cole off a corner put in by Nil Vinyals. Some people pointed out on Twitter that the ball placement was illegal as it was outside the marked area, but it ultimately should have been defended better. At the risk of nitpicking, the only time inches don’t matter is if you’re good with your mouth, hands, or something else entirely (no kink-shaming here).

Richmond’s second arrived around 44′. Bolanos received the ball at the top of the box, took a touch, and fired at Breno who made a diving save. The rebound fell to Terzaghi who proved yet again his golden boot and MVP candidacy, chipping it up and over Breno and Cyrus Rad, who struggled unsuccessfully to clear the ball off the goal line. Madison’s second goal came just two minutes later in the form of a Gebhard pass which took a bounce and was mismanaged and bundled into the net by Esteban Calvo for an own goal.

Richmond would have another attempt in the 62nd minute with Bolanos forcing a heroic goal line clearance from Eric Leonard. Trimmingham would have another chance at goal in the 82nd, forcing a diving save from Fitzgerald. Richmond’s winner would come from who else but an unmarked Emiliano Terzaghi. After a low cross skittered across the mouth of goal, the league-leading goalscorer was able to fire away an upper 90 effort from close range.

Playoffs? Possible, But Probably Not

Last night’s loss likely means the end of playoff chances this season. While not entirely mathematically impossible, we would need a complete collapse of the 4 teams above us in the table and we’d have to win out to make a top 6 spot. I’m not going to completely put it outside the realm of possibility, but the guys would need to find the same fire in their belly they showed last night and turn it up to eleven. If anyone knows someone who does hexes, we’ll probably need one for those other teams to lose their final matches (including North Texas losing 3 in a row).

Stranger things have happened, but temper your expectations and make sure you’re at Breese for the final 2 home games on the 23rd and 30th. Even if we’re out of playoff contention by then, let’s send off this season the same way we always do it at Breese: with a party.


  • Andrew Schmidt

    Eclecticist, FMFC supporter, Flock co-founder, designer of things, and taker of photos. Writer, wrench, motorcyclist. Pro-intellectualist, anti-pedant. Drinker of coffee and greeter of dogs.


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