League's seniormost club to rely on leadership of Terzaghi, Fitzgerald following record-breaking 2022 | Image Credit: Richmond Kickers
RICHMOND, Va. - Aging like fine wine, the now 31-year-old Richmond Kickers have increased both their win and points total in each of the past three seasons culminating in a finish atop the league table and the side’s most successful season since 2013. The Kickers topped the table throughout the majority of the 2022 campaign, but despite possessing the Most Valuable Player, the Coach of the Year, the Young Player of the Year and four All-League selections, Darren Sawatzky and the Kickers fell just short of finishing the job in the postseason. That said, the Kickers will return some key contributors as the historic club aims to finish the job - something it's certainly capable of - in its fifth season in League One.
The Kickers constructed one of the most prolific offenses in league history a season ago, accumulating the second-most points and the most goals in a single regular season. Richmond set League One records in points gained from losing positions (21) shot conversion rate (15.7%), goals-minus-expected goals mark (16.52) and an astounding goal differential-minus-expected goal differential mark (+19.89). Individually, Richmond’s attacking stars also shattered single-season league records with Emiliano Terzaghi’s +6.32 goals-minus-expected goals mark and Jonathan Bolanos’ +7.11 assists-minus-expected assists tally. If that’s not enough, Richmond’s backline and goalkeeper combo recorded a league-record 75% denial rate of shots on target faced.
Richmond returns most of its productivity in 2023 but will certainly feel the departures of MVP candidate and Assists Champion Jonathan Bolanos along with Young Player of the Year Ethan Bryant, who were both transferred into MLS systems in the offseason. The Kickers will aim to fill that void with the addition of Grenada international and USL Championship veteran Kharlton Belmar who returns to his native Virginia. Without a doubt, though, the most impactful returnees will be three-time MVP and all-time League One leading scorer Emiliano Terzaghi and 2021 Goalkeeper of the Year and back-to-back All-League selection Akira Fitzgerald.
Akira Fitzgerald | Image Credit: Richmond Kickers
Now just one appearance shy of becoming the first player in League One history to reach 100 regular season appearances, Akira Fitzgerald is back for his fifth season in RVA in what will be the Japanese-American goalkeeper’s 13th professional campaign. The 2021 Goalkeeper of the Year and back-to-back All-League selection faced the most shots and most shots on target in a single season in league history in 2023. In response, Fitzgerald recorded the most saves in a single season in league history with 105 with a save percentage of 75%. Fitzgerald developed collegiately at Wake Forest before the Chiba, Japan native began his professional career with North Carolina FC in 2011. With NCFC, Fitzgerald made 85 appearances from 2011 to 2016 before joining USL Championship side Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Emiliano Terzaghi | Image Credit: Richmond Kickers
The first player in American outdoor professional soccer history to be named Most Valuable Player in three consecutive seasons is back in Richmond to extend his unreal production at City Stadium. Emiliano Terzaghi – the league’s all-time leading scorer by a wide margin – returns to RVA for his fourth season after the three-time Golden Boot winner became the first player in league history to score 10-plus goals in three or more seasons. Prior to arriving stateside, Terzaghi developed in the youth ranks of Argentine Primera División’s Club Atlético Banﬁeld. Terzaghi would go on to make 24 appearances for el Taladro, accumulating a combined ﬁve goals and assists across the second and youth teams. The Argentine forward also made a pair of brief stops with then-top-flight side Club Atlético Temperley and later Club Atlético Boca Unidos.