The Pittsburgh Riverhounds, one of the most capable defensive teams in USL PRO, held Matthew Delicate in check for 86 minutes.
But with time running out and the match hanging in the balance, well, need you ask?
Delicate, the Richmond Kickers’ irrepressible prime-time scorer, hit the bull’s-eye from 8 yards out in the 87th minute to lift his club to a 2-1 victory over the Riverhounds in Saturday’s match at City Stadium.
“That’s Deli. That’s what he does,” Kickers coach Leigh Cowlishaw said. “When it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net at an important moment, he’s second to none.”
Delicate’s second goal of the young season was composed of equal parts skill and savvy. Aware that he was in poor position to play teammate Michael Callahan’s looping free kick onto the doorstep, Delicate drifted away from the thicket of big bodies in front of the Pittsburgh goal. William Yomby, Richmond’s 6-foot-4 defender, climbed highest. He reached the ball in the air and headed it behind him.
Delicate was waiting. His right-footed volley struck the left-hand goal post and caromed past Pittsburgh keeper Hunter Gilstrap as the Kickers improved to 2-0 at the midpoint of a season-opening four-game homestand.
“This is what we want to do every time we play at home,” Delicate said. “We want to send a message to the rest of the league that (City Stadium) is a hard place to play . . . that it’s going to be very hard for anybody to come in here and get anything.”