James Loving

Know Your Opponent: Richmond Kickers

Columbus Crew SC travels to the East coast this Wednesday as the Black & Gold get set for or their Fourth Round match of the 2015 U.S. Open Cup, the nation’s longest ongoing soccer tournament.

Wednesday’s match marks the only one in the Fourth Round featuring two former Open Cup champions. Needless to say, both teams have fared quite well throughout tournament history.

This year marks the 17th time in 22 seasons that the Kickers have qualified for the Open Cup, accumulating a 28-15 record in that time. Richmond claimed the trophy in 1995 and has since reached the semifinal round once (2011) and the quarterfinal four times (2001, 2004, 2007, 2011). Crew SC, meanwhile, was crowned U.S. Open Cup Champion in 2002, on top of finals appearances in 1998 and most recently in 2010.

The Kickers (6-2-6) compete in the United Soccer League (USL), the third tier of the American soccer pyramid, and currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points. They sport a 4-1-3 home record this season with a plus eight goal differential at City Stadium.

Richmond has coasted through the first few rounds of the tournament, shutting out its opponents. After a 2-0 victory over Virginia Beach City FC, the Kickers routed the Jacksonville Armada of the North American Soccer League (NASL) 3-0 to cement their spot in the Fourth Round of the Open Cup.

The Kickers have shown to be a formidable opponent, ousting five MLS teams throughout their Open Cup history. In 2011, the Kickers became the first lower division team to defeat back-to-back MLS teams on the road, as they beat Crew SC 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium and followed up with a 2-0 win at Sporting Kansas City.

The history between the two teams runs deeper than the competition, with four players moving from the Richmond Kickers to Crew SC: Todd Yeagley, David Testo, Mike Clark and Stanley Nyazamba. Scott Cannon and Ben Hunter, meanwhile, moved on to the Kickers after stints with Columbus.

This Wednesday marks the third time these two clubs have seen each other in tournament play, and the matchup has proven to be somewhat of a launching point for Open Cup success. Richmond’s victory over the Black & Gold in 2011 sparked a run to the semifinals, whereas in 2002, Crew SC opened its run to the champions’ podium with a 3-0 victory over Richmond.

Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 17 at City Stadium. A live stream of the match will be availabe at ColumbusCrewSC.com.