RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Kickers led by Head Coach Darren Sawatzky are off to a strong start in their 2022 campaign. 

After a sour 1-0 defeat to Sawatzky’s former club, FC Tucson, in the quarterfinals last season, the Kickers have managed to bounce back through the first nine matches of this season.

The club currently sits in fifth place with 12 points — just two points shy of first place, Greenville Triumph SC. Only three losses have been accumulated by the Kickers, each of which Sawatzky believes the team could have easily turned out as wins.

“We’re not where I think we should be,” Sawatzky said. “We’ve lost three games and I think all three games we should have won. We’re happy with our progress; we’re not happy with where we’re at”

The Kickers are currently tied for the league lead in goals at 14 with Central Valley Fuego FC. Much of this credit goes to back-to-back reigning MVP Emiliano Terzaghi who is now in his third season with the team.

“He’s the same guy,” Sawatzky said. “The trick is we are starting to have other guys start to step up and take the load off of him.”

Terzaghi currently sits at 6th in the league for goals scored with 4. Despite the consistent great play from the Argentinian, Sawatzky still believes his goalkeeper and defense are a big reason for the team’s early success.

“Our goalkeeper has been very good, our defensive line has been very good and the guys who should score goals have been scoring goals,” Sawatzky said.

One of the key contributors to the Kicker’s defensive line is Jalen Crisler. The defender is in his second season with the team and recently netted his first USL League One goal against Tormenta FC last Saturday.

He is in part responsible for the team’s stout defense which has had two clean sheets this season and held opponents to an average of only one goal per game.

“We’ve become a little bit more of a possession team,” Crisler said. “The more we’re able to [retain possession] and dictate the tempo and limit the other team’s chances, we know what our offense is about and we know we can score goals and we have the best goalie in the league behind us.”

The team’s next game is tomorrow against Charlotte Independence at 6:30 p.m. at City Stadium. More information and the team’s schedule can be found on the Kicker’s website.