RICHMOND, VA. – The visiting Los Angeles Blues claimed an early lead and came away with a 2-1 road win over the Richmond Kickers on a steamy Friday night at City Stadium. With a heat index soaring over 110 degrees, Cesar Rivera and recent Blues signing Jonatan De Leon combined to tally a pair of first-half goals before Kickers defender Sascha Görres converted a 69th minute penalty kick to avoid the shutout.
Los Angeles added extra heat to the stifling humidity directly out of the gates when Rivera fed the ball through to De Leon at the top of the box in the 5th minute of play. One-on-one with Ronnie Pascale, the newest addition to the Blues roster calmly slotted it underneath the veteran goalkeeper into the far corner of the net to give the visitors the early lead.
The Kickers later saw their two best chances to level the score averted within a four-minute span. First a quick 33rd minute restart found Görres open on the left side of the box. He calmly played the ball squarely to an open David Bulow at the penalty spot, but his volley dipped just over the crossbar. Then Kickers midfielder Gerson dos Santos played a long ball up to a well-positioned Bulow on the left edge of the box and the 31-year-old served it to a heavily marked Matthew Delicate at the far post. While Delicate managed to win the ball in the air, his determined header was smothered by Blues goalkeeper Oscar Dautt.
One minute from the halftime whistle, the Blues added a second tally to the scoreline when Rivera teamed up with his strike partner De Leon once again. Receiving the ball from Rivera on the left wing, De Leon powered through the defense and fired a missile into the back of the net from point-blank range.
Los Angeles carried the 2-0 lead into the halftime break and maintained the advantage until defender Nelson Akwari was called for a rash tackle against Kickers midfielder Luke Vercollone inside the box in the 68th minute. A composed Görres stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty kick with German precision to put the Kickers back into the game.
Gaining momentum, the Kickers nearly notched the equalizer in the 73rd minute of play when Görres lofted a ball into the box from the left wing. Delicate reached to redirect to the far post with his head, but the Kickers’ big marksman was denied by Dautt. The Blues answered back with a close call of their own in the 83rd minute, Tomislav Colic launching a rocket from close range and seeing it pushed wide by Pascale.
With just minutes to spare, the Kickers threw everything forward, but only to see several chances go awry. In a last-ditch effort to salvage a point, Görres collected the ball deep on the left wing and served it through a heavily defended box, finding second-half substitute Shaka Bangura in prime position. The speedy forward got a touch on it and fed it through a gap in the defense, but he was rejected one last time by the Blues ‘keeper.