Hounds want to be competitive with Richmond
Coaches don't like to talk about losses, but Riverhounds coach Tim Carter understands that even a close loss to Richmond tonight might not be a bad thing.
This is the first of two games with Richmond that count as Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup qualifiers. The team that wins the aggregate scoring in the two matches will advance to the second round
The Riverhounds and Richmond kick off at 7 p.m. at University of Richmond Stadium.
Certainly, the Riverhounds would like to win and get a jump on the second game, set for May 26 at Bethel Park Stadium (they will play again July 12, a non-Cup game.) Carter wants a victory or a tie tonight, though a one-point loss would still keep things close for the second game.
"Of course, we don't want a loss, but 1-0 would not be insurmountable," Carter said. "It would still be within reach."
The Riverhounds were knocked out of the first round of the Open Cup last year by Hampton Roads after advancing to the quarterfinals against the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer the year before.
Playing an Open Cup game, which also is a regular-season A-League game, gives the match more of a playoff-type feel, Carter said, giving his players have two reasons to play.
No one understands the importance of winning Open Cup games than Richmond coach Leigh Cowlishaw. He played on the 1995 Richmond squad which won the Cup by winning at El Paso.
"It was a great experience," Cowlishaw said. "There were over 10,000 spectators, most of them cheering for El Paso. We won in a shootout."
Cowlishaw, a midfielder, did not score the game-winner, but he'll never forget winning that game and will try to impress upon his players the importance of playing well: The team that wins the series will put itself in the position to play an MLS team in a future Open Cup game.
"There is a little more notoriety and an additional buzz with an Open Cup game," Carter said. "There is added value to this game. It is like getting double jeopardy. If you lose, you put yourself in a hole"
Riverhounds midfielder Ricardo Villar, then with Hampton Roads, played the final 20 minutes of regulation and scored in overtime in that team's first Cup qualifier against the Hounds last season. The teams drew, 2-2, in the second game, sending Hampton Roads to the next round. The Riverhounds hope that Villar plays as well this season with his new team.
"I hope I can help them," Villar said. "I was fortunate to score in overtime. Open Cup play is more exciting. You know if you lose, you are in trouble for the next game. It is odd there is a tournament within the regular season, but that is the rule."
|Riverhounds ( 1-1-1, 4 points) at Richmond ( 2-1-0, 6 points)|