Matthew Delicâte’s fourth goal of the season proved to be the match-winner for Richmond in a 2-1 win over Toronto before 2,452 at UR Stadium, putting the Kickers two points clear atop the USL First Division.
"I think we did enough to win," said Richmond coach Leigh Cowlishaw. "I thought we certainly made it harder than we needed to. We had a lot of good opportunities in both halves, really."
Delicâte’s goal came just three minutes into the second half, as he took a pass from midfielder Tim Brown and, with a well-placed finish, beat Lynx goalkeeper Theo Zagar from 19-yards.
Toronto (0-2-1, 1 pt.) opened the scoring in the 27th minute, with the goal sequence beginning in the Lynx’s own half, as Rick Titus brought the ball out of his own half to the left sideline, and just beyond the Kickers’ bench, sent a left-footed ball into the box. Kickers defender Peter Luzak missed clearing the ball, and it took a high hop as goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale and Lynx forward Ali Gerba converged 12-yards out.
Gerba out-jumped Pascale for the ball, and headed it over him toward the empty net. Luzak, retreating toward the goal, was a split-second late and was unable to clear the ball before it crossed the line, giving Toronto a 1-0 lead.
Mere seconds after the kickoff, though, the match was tied. Kevin Jeffrey, who left the match late in the first half with a pulled left hamstring and is expected to be out several weeks, was looking to feed Delicate streaking toward the center of the goal. However, the ball took a deflection off Lynx defender Jeremie Diette; left-sided midfielder Joey Worthen ran onto the deflection, and from 17-yards, blasted his shot past Zagar for his second goal in 2005.
"A lot of goals are scored right after goals, and it was a good opportunity to try and get one, and the ball was just set up right in front of me in front of the goal, and I just tried to get on the end of it," Worthen said.
Jeffrey’s injury occurred late in the first half chasing a ball near the Toronto bench. He said he heard a pop in his left hamstring and immediately signaled to the bench for a substitute.
"We’ve got a deep team, so we’ll be alright," Jeffrey said. "You might not see me, but you’ll see some of the other guys doing their stuff," later adding that "it sucks now to have to sit out, and then coming back from injury, you’ve gotta get back into the routine, you’ve gotta get sharp. Hopefully, I don’t lose a step and I recover faster than normal."
Delicâte put Richmond (3-1-0, 9 pts.) back on top in the 48th minute. From just inside midfield, Brown split three defenders with a pinpoint pass to Delicâte, who held off former Kickers defender Rumba Munthali and Diette, and beat a charging Zagar with his right-footed effort from just outside the box.
The Lynx tried to get a quick equalizer of their own, but Conrad Smith’s right-footed knuckler a minute later from 22-yards went just wide left, with Pascale having the corner of the goal covered.
Robert Ssejjemba, who came on for the injured Jeffrey, had a similar opportunity to Delicâte’s in the 50th minute, as Richie Williams split two defenders–this time Munthali and Anares Arongo–but his left-footed effort from 19-yards was saved by a well-positioned Zagar, who’s only other save came in the 15th minute, using his foot to deflect a close-in effort from Kickers midfielder Chris Carrieri.
Two minutes later, the Lynx’s Conrad Smith turned on right back Matt Bobo, who was bailed out by a late tackle from Worthen’s substitute, Sascha Gorres just outside the top of the 18-yard box. Robin Hart’s free kick, though, was hit into the wall and cleared by Richmond.
For the match, Toronto outshot Richmond 11-10, but only forced one save from Pascale in the second half.
"We closed the game–it wasn’t as good as I’d like to," Cowlishaw said. "There was too many chances in the second half, when, really, they shouldn’t be threatening at that stage."
However, Cowlishaw, noting the difficulty in winning First Division matches, will certainly take the win and the top spot in the table. It puts the Kickers two points ahead of Portland, who were 2-1 winners over Seattle Saturday and Atlanta, who played Charleston to a scoreless draw. In other action last night, Rochester opened their season with a 1-0 loss in Vancouver.
Friday night, three sets of First Division matches ended in ties–Puerto Rico/Montreal (1-1), Minnesota/Portland (2-2) and Charleston/Virginia Beach (1-1).
The Kickers, meanwhile, are poised to plug away despite several players being banged up, including Tony Williams, Jeffrey, Delicâte–who left the match due to an injury in the 87th minute–and Paul Williams. They next face defending First Division champions Montreal in a home, Mother’s Day match.
"I think we have a lot of potential," Worthen said. "I don’t think we’ve reached that potential yet. And fortunately for us, we still come out with a win. Once we do reach our potential and start playing at 100 percent, I think we’ll be doing pretty well."
TOR : Ali Gerba (Rick Titus) 27
RIC : Joey Worthen 28
RIC : Matthew Delicâte (Tim Brown) 48
Shots : 10/11
Saves : 4/2
Fouls : 9/10
Corners : 6/4
Offside : 5/2
Richmond : Ronnie Pascale, Kevin Knight, Matt Bobo, Chris Fox, Peter Luzak, Tim Brown, Richie Williams, Chris Carrieri (Mike Burke 80), Kevin Jeffrey (Robert Ssejjemba 43), Joey Worthen (Sascha Gorres 45), Matthew Delicâte (McColm Cephas 87)
Toronto : Theo Zagar; Jeremie Piette, Andres Arango, Josue Mayard, Rumba Munthali (Jamie Dodds 78); Rick Titus, Niels Dekker (Winston Griffiths 62), Robin Hart (El Tabe Huffman 85), Sean Fraser, Ali Gerba, Conrad Smith (Dave Simpson 56)
TOR : Niels Dekker 25
TOR : Rumba Munthali 75
Referee : Tony Russo
Assistant Referees : Mark Turner, John Schmitz
Fourth Official : James Conlee
Attendance : 2,452
Weather : Overcast, cool, 73