Richmond Kickers is a professional soccer team based in Richmond, Virginia. The club competes in the USL League One, the third division of American soccer.
Richmond Kickers Youth Development System
The Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) was formed in May of 2000 when the Eastern F.C. and Richmond United youth clubs joined forces with the Kickers pro club. In the fall of 2001, the youth clubs of Midlothian and Ashland Dragons also became affiliated with RKYSC, with the Kickers managing their travel programs. In the fall of 2002 Pocoshock Valley Youth Soccer League’s travel program merged with the Kickers. In the Fall of 2004 Pocoshock Valley Youth Soccer Recreation league merged with the Richmond Kickers.
The Club provides opportunities for all players of all abilities and unites soccer in the Richmond community. Benefits include economy of scale, consistency of coaching philosophy, professional administrative and coaching staff expertise, positive role models for youth players, a clear pathway from youth to pro for aspiring young players, and the ability to combine resources to draw additional sponsorships and grants.
Club play starts at age 4 or 5 with the recreational soccer level, for young girls and boys who want to have fun and to learn about the game of soccer. The recreational level will extend into the teen years and will allow players to play in a competitive environment without the commitment and expense of travel soccer.
The Club also will provide advanced skills for young players under the age of ten who have the talent and desire to play travel soccer in the future. “Our goal is to provide an advanced skills program for every member of our club. There would be no tryouts — just the opportunity for all talented players to participate in the course and be exposed to a high level of technical instruction within a fun-filled environment,” says Coach Cowlishaw.
Once players reach the U-10 level, the Kickers will field Elite teams that bring all of the best players together. The Elite teams are for players who are serious about the sport and who want to compete at a higher level.
To provide an opportunity for our young people and our community to develop healthy life skills and team skills through active participation in the beautiful game of soccer.
- Teamwork – Working together to achieve common goals
- Fairness – Treating others as we would like to be treated
- Communication – Sharing and respecting diverse ideas to improve our team
- Nurture – Providing a positive environment where our young people are challenged to strive for excellence
- Stewardship – Committing to make our community a better place
“The Richmond Kickers have a vision,” says Richmond Kickers Head Coach Leigh Cowlishaw, “to be the model for the future of youth soccer development in the U.S.” The dream is based upon a united approach to development that is common practice throughout the rest of the world. The United States Soccer Federation calls it Vertical Integration which emphasizes that all soccer players, parents, and coaches are all part of one big soccer family. The integration plan advocates a basic commitment that everyone work together to provide the same age-specific/player-specific developmental scheme.
Richmond Kickers Player Pathway to Pro
Richmond Kickers Recruitment Trials
The Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club currently have select openings on their travel teams and will be offering supplemental tryout opportunities for all age groups and levels. Further tryout information can be found by clicking here.
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Richmond Kickers History
The United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL), which served as the third division of the American soccer pyramid when the Richmond Kickers were first established in 1993 and played their first season of competition, was the organization in which the Richmond Kickers competed for their very first time. When the team first formed, its home games were played on the grounds of the University of Richmond, and it actively sought out members who were based in the state of Virginia.
As a result of the club’s poor performance in 1994, it decided to demote itself to the then-newly founded fourth-tier USISL Premier League, which is now known as the USL League Two. During the 1995 season, the Kickers battled their way to a winning record of 15–3 and went on to win the very first USISL Premier League championship. In the final game, the Kickers prevailed against the Cocoa Expos, who are no longer in existence.
During the very same campaign, Richmond captured their first and only Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title. The following year, Richmond made the decision to move back down to the third division, where they competed and eventually reached the finals of the USISL Select League title, where they were ultimately defeated by the California Jaguars. In the subsequent nine years, Richmond competed in the second level of the American soccer pyramid.
During this time, the club was successful enough to win the Commissioner’s Cup in 1998 and 2001, in addition to two conference titles. However, the team was never able to win the division two league championship. The closest they came was in 2005, when the Kickers lost to the Seattle Sounders in the championship game of the USL First Division.
The ownership of the Kickers decided to self-relegate the team back into the third level at the end of the 2005 season. They cited the possibility of the club running into financial difficulties if they remained in the second tier. The Kickers have enjoyed a great deal of success ever since they moved up to the third level. They have advanced to at least the playoff semifinals in each of the seasons in which they have competed in the third division. In addition, during their tenure, the Kickers have been victorious in both the third-division premiership and the third-division championship on two separate occasions.
Rob Ukrop’s number six jersey was retired by the club in September of 2005. Ukrop was a member of the first team to play for the Kickers in 1993 and the team that won the U.S. Open Cup in 1995. He then moved on to play for the New England Revolution when Major League Soccer was first established and then came back to the Kickers in the middle of the 1996 season to finish his career in his hometown.
The Richmond Kickers have not only been successful in their league, but they have also been consistent title contenders in the Lamar Hunt United States Open Cup event. The third round of competition in the 2007 U.S. Open Cup was won by the Kickers with a score of 1-0 over the Los Angeles Galaxy, who were competing in the first tier of Major League Soccer at the time. The Kickers prevailed against the Fredericksburg Gunners of the PDL to advance to the Second Round of the 2008 U.S. Open Cup. The match’s final score was 3–0 in favor of the Kickers.
The Kickers defeated the Western Mass Pioneers by a score of two goals to one in the second round of the cup, but they were eliminated from the competition in the third round by MLS side and reigning USOC champion New England Revolution, who won by a score of three goals to zero. The Kickers had a Cinderella run in the 2011 US Open Cup, when they advanced all the way to the semi-finals before losing to the Chicago Fire. Along the way, they defeated two MLS clubs: Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City. The Richmond Kickers Future and the Richmond Kickers Destiny were two of the Kickers’ own developmental squads that they supported for a short time.
While Destiny competed in the women’s USL W-League from 2004 to 2009, Future participated in the men’s USL Premier Development League from 2002 to 2008. In 2013, the Kickers became the USL Pro affiliate of D.C. United after entering into a contract that would last for multiple years, and they maintained that connection through 2018. It seems likely that the Kickers’ affiliation with D.C. United will come to an end as a result of the formation of Loudoun United FC as a fully owned and run affiliate of D.C. United for the 2019 USL Championship season.
After many years of struggling to keep up with the other teams in the USL Championship, the Kickers announced that they would be self-relegating and becoming inaugural members of the new third division league, USL League One. This decision came after the Kickers spent many years trying to keep up with the other teams in the USL Championship.
In addition to making the announcement that they would be moving to a new league, the Kickers also revealed that a group called 22 Holdings, LLC, which was run by Rob Ukrop, a former member of the Kickers, had purchased a majority stake in the team. The Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club, who had previously held the primary ownership stake in the team, would continue to have a minority part in the team while still serving as the team’s youth organization.
Richmond Kickers Stadium
City Stadium is a multi-purpose venue for sporting events located in Richmond, Virginia. It can be reached via the Downtown Expressway and is situated to the south of the Carytown neighborhood in Richmond. It is owned by the city. The stadium was constructed in 1929, and it currently has about 22,000 seats available. Since 1995, the Richmond Kickers of USL League One have competed with it on their field.
Between the years 1929 and 2009, American football games were played at this stadium by the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond played Appalachian State University in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs on December 5, 2009, which was the stadium’s final home football game. The game was the University of Richmond’s last home game at the stadium.
The Richmond Rebels of the Atlantic Coast Football League and the Continental Football League called the stadium in Richmond, Virginia, their home from 1964 to 1967. In 1967, the Rebels moved to the United American Football League, where they took the name Richmond Mustangs. Previously, they had played in the Continental Football League. Between the years 1995 and 1998, the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship was held at University of Richmond Stadium in Richmond, Virginia.
At the semifinals of the 1995 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament, which featured matches between the Virginia Cavaliers and the Duke Blue Devils, as well as the Portland Pilots and the Wisconsin Badgers, the venue set a new record for the number of people who attended. The new record was 21,319 people. Additionally, beginning in the middle of the 2000s, the stadium served as the location for the high school football state championship games in the state of Virginia.