Another year, another East Coast super club marriage.
Over the last two seasons the Richmond Strikers and Richmond Kickers spent a majority of time near the bottom of the Atlantic Division. Make no mistake about it, there is plenty of excellent coaching, talent and resources within the city, but critics often pointed to the damage the two clubs were doing to each other splitting the pool.
This season however the Strikers and Kickers have come together to form the appropriately named Richmond United.
The blueprint is there. The merger of Bethesda Soccer Club with Olney Boys & Girls Club took USSDA by storm, with Bethesda-Olney making it all the way to the U17/18 final before losing out to biter rival PDA. Bethesda-Olney ushered in loads of new talent and ideas under one united banner.
Richmond United’s plans are lofty, and they should be. They’ll bring back some experienced players, from both Richmond clubs. Richmond United will also have the services of one of the top US Prospects in ’99 Nicolas Taitague when he’s in town. Taitague is dynamic with the ball and technically gifted much beyond his age. Problem for Richmond will be ensuring he suits up when he’s back from Residency. It’s no secret Nick is also being courted by some of the biggest clubs and academies in the world. His training stint with Manchester United, made headlines around the world.
Richmond United U17/18 might not enjoy the immediate success Bethesda-Olney had in its first season. Richmond United U17/18 is a nice combination of Kickers & Strikers U15/16 players led by a group of solid midfielders. ’97 Gary Foley, ’97 Juan Astruc, ’97 Seth Manis and ’97 Myles Brown. These four started over 85% of the matches for their respective clubs last year. They’ll be joined by FC Richmond midfielder ’97 Keoni Rison who has the physical tools to be quite a prospect. ’97 William Zarco will also be influential in pulling the strings.
The defense includes a solid keeper in ’96 Jake Gelnovatch and two defensive stars ’97 Ben Aherns and ’97 Austin Graham. Aherns and Graham led their respective clubs last season and will form a nice partnership.
Up top United will look to ’97 Lyndsey Moreland and ’97 Keenan O’Shea to bag them goals. Moreland is a talented attacker who could parlay his opportunity with the United U17/18 into a number of college offers.
For Richmond United the U15/16 might be a different story in 2014/15. United combines the talented, yet underachieving Strikers & Kickers, into a team that should be primed to earn plenty of good results. A majority of this roster is playing a year up, as many were born in 1999. ’99’s Sam Bacon, Ryan Hall, Roy Henderson, Colton Howell and Patrick Nelson all played large roles last year on U13/14 sides.
These ’99s will supplement a solid group of ’98s including Anthony Gonnella and Ryan Lesher, who have been involved with a number of select teams playing abroad. The key man on he U15/16 will be Virginia Rush transplant Brandon Perdue. Perdue is an elite scoring forward, who bagged 11 goals last season playing with the VA Rush U15/16s. He will be looked to as the main man outside Taitague should Nick suit up.
’98 Julian Ngoh will be a key figure for the side. Look for him to be the main force driving the offense. Do not be surprised if he comes close to reaching Perdue’s offensive output.
It’s even deeper down the rabbit hole that Richmond United gets interesting. For all its lack of success, it has been the hope that the future of the clubs, their ’99s-’01s would begin to turn the fortunes around.
The U13/14 is stacked with a number of ’00s that should be included in the US U14 National Team pool. US Youth National ’00 Chris Durkin, formerly of DC United, is a very talented midfielder who can control a game. Durkin is joined by fellow midfielders Ben Grant and Martin Ngoh who together will form quite a nice middle of the park for the young United squad.
Defensively United boasts ’00 Japanese-American Yugo Suzuki who started over 90% of the game last season. Suzuki has garnered plenty of interest from European academies including Ajax of Amsterdam. Suzuki made the OWTY U13/14 North Atlantic All-American team last year playing up a year. Miles Peay, Daniel Aherns and Jessie Cashin will also play big roles this season.
Up top look for the Richmond United U13/14s to look to Alec Taitague and Luke Mega to doing the deed in the offensive third. While Alec’s older brother Nick rightfully grabs the headlines, he is quite a talented player himself. Alec should come into his own this year. Mega has spent time training in London with Arsenal’s academy and could be one of the breakout stars of this years U13/14 season. These two might combine with ’01 talent Jacob Thomas who played in 23 games last season with the Richmond Strikers.
Club Captain :: Austin Graham
Impact Player :: Myles Brown
Club Talisman :: Brandon Perdue
Club Star :: Kennan O’Shea
Defensive Stalwart :: Ben Aherns
Top Prospect :: Chris Durkin
Pro Prospect :: Yugo Suzuki
US Residents :: Nicholas Taitague & William Pulisic