The Richmond Kickers are an American professional soccer club based in Richmond, Virginia. Founded in 1993, the Kickers are one of the oldest continuously run professional soccer clubs in the United States, tied with the Charleston Battery. After following the United Soccer League into the second division for 2017 and 2018, the Kickers returned to the third tier of American soccer in 2019 as a founding member of USL League One.
|Full name||Richmond Kickers Soccer Club|
|Capacity||22,611 (can be limited to 9,000)|
|Owner||22 Holdings, LLC (majority)|
|Head Coach||Darren Sawatzky|
|League||USL League One|
The Richmond Kickers were founded in 1993 and played their inaugural season in the United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL), which, at the time, represented the third division of the American soccer pyramid. The team originally played their home matches on the campus of the University of Richmond and targeted players specifically from Virginia. After a poor season in 1994, the club self-relegated to the newly formed fourth-tier USISL Premier League, now known as the USL League Two. During the 1995 season, the Kickers battled to a 15–3 winning season and went on to win the first ever USISL Premier League championship, defeating the now-defunct Cocoa Expos in the championship. That same season, Richmond won their only, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship. The following year, Richmond chose to rejoin the third division, where they reached the USISL Select League championship, only to lose to the California Jaguars in the finals.
For the next nine seasons, Richmond played in the second tier of the American soccer pyramid, earning the Commissioner's Cup twice, in 1998 and 2001, as well as earning two conference championships. However, the club was never able to secure a division two league championship, their closest coming in 2005, when the Kickers fell to the Seattle Sounders in the 2005 USL First Division Championship. After the 2005 season, the Kickers ownership self-relegated the team back into the third division, citing possible financial problems for the club if they remained in the second tier. Since joining the third division, the Kickers have had tremendous success, making it to at least the playoff semifinals each season they have played in the third division. Additionally, the Kickers have won two third division premierships and two third division championships during their spell.
In September 2005, the club retired Rob Ukrop's #6 jersey. Ukrop played for the inaugural 1993 Kickers and the 1995 U.S. Open Cup team, joined the New England Revolution at the launch of Major League Soccer before returning midway through the 1996 season to play out his career in his hometown.
Richmond Kickers have not only experienced league success, but have been perennial contenders in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament. In the 2007 U.S. Open Cup, the Kickers defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy of the first division, Major League Soccer, 1–0 in the third round of competition. The Kickers won their First Round match of the 2008 U.S. Open Cup, beating the Fredericksburg Gunners of the PDL with a final scoreline of 3–0. The Kickers won their second-round game over the Western Mass Pioneers 2–1 before being eliminated from the Cup in the third round by MLS side, and defending USOC champion, New England Revolution, 3–0. In the 2011 US Open Cup the Kickers made a Cinderella run, defeating MLS clubs Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City to reach the semi-finals, before falling to the Chicago Fire.
The Kickers briefly sponsored two developmental teams of their own: Richmond Kickers Future and Richmond Kickers Destiny. Future played in the men's USL Premier Development League from 2002–2008, while the Destiny played in the women's USL W-League from 2004–2009. The Kickers entered a multi-year deal to become the USL Pro affiliate of D.C. United in 2013, and continued that affiliation through 2018. Loudoun United FC was launched as a fully owned-and-operated affiliate of D.C. United for the 2019 USL Championship season, presumably ending the Kickers' affiliation tenure.
USL League One era and new ownership (2019–present)
After many years of struggling to keep up with the other teams in the USL Championship, the Kickers announced that they were self-relegating and becoming inaugural members of the new third division league, USL League One. In addition to joining a new league, the Kickers announced that 22 Holdings, LLC, an organization consisting of former Davidson College soccer players and led by former Kickers player Rob Ukrop, had acquired a controlling interest in the team. The former majority owners, the Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club, would continue holding a minority interest in the team and operating as the team's youth organization.
Colors and badge
The Kickers' primary colors are red and white, having been so since the beginning of the 2001 season. Their kits are manufactured by Adidas, as they have been since at least 2009. In March 2012, the Kickers revealed a new logo to celebrate 20 years since their inception. Along with the new crest, the club also announced they would be using a third uniform with the colors from their first season in 1993, green and blue. They also have a black kit they have used during the 2013 season.
The Kickers' official supporters group is the River City Red Army who occupy section O of City Stadium.
James River Cup
The James River Cup was an annual competition held between the Richmond Kickers and the Virginia Beach Mariners (formerly Hampton Roads Mariners) which the team with the most points at the conclusion of all scheduled matches between the two teams would win. The Cup was held every year since 1996 with the exception of 1997 and 2001 when Virginia Beach did not field a team. In 2007, the Virginia Beach team was disbanded.
For the 2008 season, the James River Cup was contested between the Kickers' organization and the Hampton Roads Piranhas organization. The cup went to the organization that had the most points in games between their PDL and W-League teams. The series ended up tied 2–2–1, with the Piranhas winning the Cup on goal difference.
From 2003 to 2004, Selecta 1320 AM (WVNZ) broadcast select Kickers matches in Spanish; in 2005 they broadcast all Kickers home matches. However, Selecta 1320 AM does not broadcast Kickers matches now.
Players and staff
- USL Academy Contract
Reserves and academy roster
|President and general manager||Matt Spear|
|Sporting Director / Head coach||Darren Sawatzky|
|Assistant coach||Mika Elovaara|
|Goalkeeping coach||Adrian Clewlow|
|Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club|
|Executive director||Leigh Cowlishaw|
|Assistant technical director||Fred Sekyere|
|Team directors||Michael Burke|
Head coaching history
|1995–1996||Led team to only U.S. Open Cup title and USISL championship|
|2000–2018||Longest tenured coach in club history|
- Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
- Winners (1): 1995
|Year||Division||League||Regular Season||Playoffs||U.S. Open Cup||Avg. Attendance|
|1993||3||USISL||4th, Atlantic Division||Divisional Semifinals||Did Not Enter||2,433|
|1994||3||USISL||9th, Atlantic Division||Did Not Qualify||Did Not Enter||985|
|1994||N/A||USISL Indoor||2nd, Northern Division||Did Not Qualify||Did Not Enter||985|
|1995||4||USISL Premier League||2nd, Eastern Division||Champions||Champions||1,109|
|1996||3||USISL Select League||2nd, North Atlantic Division||Final||Did Not Qualify||1,255|
|1997||2||USISL A-League||3rd, Atlantic Division||Division Semifinals||3rd round||1,925|
|1998||2||USISL A-League||1st, Atlantic Division||Conference Semifinals||Did Not Qualify||2,527|
|1999||2||USL A-League||2nd, Atlantic Division||Second Round||Did Not Qualify||2,488|
|2000||2||USL A-League||2nd, Atlantic Division||Conference Semifinals||3rd round||2,192|
|2001||2||USL A-League||1st, Central Conference||Quarterfinals||Quarterfinals||2,436|
|2002||2||USL A-League||2nd, Southeast Division||Final||3rd Round||2,431|
|2003||2||USL A-League||3rd, Southeast Division||Did Not Qualify||Did Not Qualify||2,273|
|2004||2||USL A-League||2nd, Eastern Conference||Quarterfinals||Quarterfinals||2,333|
|2005||2||USL First Division||6th||Final||4th Round||2,754|
|2006||3||USL Second Division||1st||Champions||2nd Round||2,341|
|2007||3||USL Second Division||1st||Final||Quarterfinals||2,594|
|2008||3||USL Second Division||2nd||Semifinals||3rd Round||2,519|
|2009||3||USL Second Division||2nd||Champions||1st Round||2,874|
|2010||3||USL Second Division||2nd||Final||3rd Round||2,044|
|2011||3||USL Pro||3rd, American Division||Semifinals||Semifinals||2,545|
|2012||3||USL Pro||4th||1st Round||3rd Round||2,433|
|2013||3||USL Pro||1st||Semifinals||3rd Round||2,637|
|2014||3||USL Pro||4th||Semifinals||4th Round||2,679|
|2015||3||USL||6th, Eastern||Conference 1st Round||4th Round||3,747|
|2016||3||USL||7th, Eastern||Conference Quarterfinals||3rd Round||3,996|
|2017||2||USL||14th, Eastern||Did not qualify||2nd Round||4,665|
|2018||2||USL||15th, Eastern||Did not qualify||4th Round||3,976|
|2019||3||USL1||9th||Did not qualify||2nd Round||3,468|
History vs. Major League Soccer
- 3/15/97 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 3 vs. Columbus Crew 1 (UR Stadium)
- 6/17/97 – Exhibition – D.C. United 4 vs. Richmond Kickers 2 (UR Stadium)
- 7/23/97 – U.S. Open Cup (3rd Rd) – MetroStars 3 vs. Richmond Kickers 0 (UR Stadium)
- 6/14/00 – U.S. Open Cup (2nd Rd) – Richmond Kickers 3 vs. Colorado Rapids 0 (UR Stadium)
- 7/25/00 – U.S. Open Cup (3rd Rd) – San Jose Earthquakes 2 vs. Richmond Kickers 0 (Spartan Stadium)
- 4/1/01 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 0 vs. Dallas Burn 0 (UR Stadium)
- 7/24/01 – U.S. Open Cup (4th Rd) – D.C. United 2 vs. Richmond Kickers 1 (RFK Stadium)
- 4/13/02 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 0 vs. D.C. United 1 (UR Stadium)
- 7/17/02 – U.S. Open Cup (3rd Rd) – Columbus Crew 3 vs. Richmond Kickers 0 (Crew Stadium)
- 4/5/03 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 1 vs. D.C. United 1 (UR Stadium)
- 7/21/04 – U.S. Open Cup (4th Rd) – Richmond Kickers 2 vs. D.C. United 1 (UR Stadium)
- 8/4/04 – U.S. Open Cup (Quarterfinals) – Chicago Fire 1 vs. Richmond Kickers 0 (UR Stadium)
- 8/3/05 – U.S. Open Cup (4th Rd) – Richmond Kickers 1 vs. D.C. United 3 (UR Stadium)
- 7/10/07 – U.S. Open Cup (3rd Rd) – Richmond Kickers 1 vs Los Angeles Galaxy 0 (UR Stadium)
- 3/22/08 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 3 vs. D.C. United 0 (UR Stadium)
- 6/30/10 – U.S. Open Cup (4th Rd) – D.C. United 2 vs. Richmond Kickers 0 (George Mason Stadium)
- 6/28/11 – U.S. Open Cup (3rd Rd) – Richmond Kickers 2 vs. Columbus Crew 1 (Crew Stadium)
- 7/12/11 – U.S. Open Cup (Quarterfinals) – Richmond Kickers 2 vs. Sporting Kansas City 0 (Livestrong Sporting Park)
- 8/30/11 – U.S. Open Cup (Semifinals) – Chicago Fire 2 vs. Richmond Kickers 1 (Toyota Park)
- 5/29/12 – U.S. Open Cup (3rd Rd) – Richmond Kickers 1 vs. D.C. United 2 (City Stadium)
- 7/17/15 – U.S. Open Cup (4th Rd) – Richmond Kickers 1 vs. Columbus Crew SC 3 (City Stadium)
- 7/16/04 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 1 vs. Nottingham Forest 1 (UR Stadium)
- 7/25/09 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 1 vs. C.S.D. Comunicaciones 0 (UR Stadium)
- 7/1/14 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 1 vs. Mexico U21 1 (City Stadium)
- 7/31/14 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 0 vs. Crystal Palace 3 (City Stadium)
- 7/19/15 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 1 vs. West Bromwich Albion 2 (City Stadium)
- 7/16/16 – Exhibition – Richmond Kickers 2 vs. Swansea City A.F.C. 0 (City Stadium)
- 2014 Richmond Kickers Media Guide (PDF). Richmond Kickers. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-13.
- Wood, Patrick (18 December 2018). "Richmond Kickers Announce New Ownership". Richmondkickers.com. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
- "The Most Underrated Sports Team in Richmond". Style Weekly. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- USL DIII Staff (11 September 2018). "Kickers Named a USL Division III Founding Member". usld3.com. United Soccer Leagues. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- "Professional soccer comes to campus". The Collegian. 4 March 1993. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "Kickers realign into USL2". RichmondKickers.com. 2005-10-25. Retrieved 2008-06-10.
- "Kickers oust LA Galaxy". RichmondKickers.com. 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- "Kickers disarm Gunners in 3–0 win". RichmondKickers.com. 2008-06-11. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
- "D.C. United, Richmond Kickers announce landmark affiliation". D.C. United. January 24, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
- "Loudoun United FC Joins the USL for 2019". United Soccer League. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Wood, Patrick (2018-09-11). "RICHMOND KICKERS NAMED A USL DIVISION III FOUNDING MEMBER". Richmond Kickers. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- Times-Dispatch, ADAM CULLER Richmond. "Richmond Kickers will join a new league, transitioning to third division of U.S. Soccer". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- Wood, Patrick (2018-12-18). "Richmond Kickers Announce New Ownership". Richmond Kickers. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- "Kickers Logo Narrative". Richmondkickers.com. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "Front of Jersey Sponsor Unveiled". Richmondkickers.com. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "Kickers Unveil 2009 Jersey Saturday". Richmondkickers.com. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "'Richmond Kickers unveil new logo'". Potomac Soccer Wire. 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
- "Kickers Expand Relationship With Hispanic Radio Station". Richmondkickers.com. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "Richmond Kickers roster". Richmondkickers.com. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
- "Richmond Kickers vs. Columbus Crew SC - 2015 U.S. Open Cup - Fourth Round". Ussoccer.com. Retrieved 20 May 2019.