As Crystal Palace prepare to take on Richmond Kickers at midnight BST, NBC Sports reporter Joe Prince-Wright returns to cast his expert eye over the Eagles’ final opponents on their American tour.
Englishman Leigh Cowlishaw, who was born in Burton-upon-Trent, moved to the USA in 1989 to play soccer at Richmond University. There he is the career record-holder for goals (55), assists (33) and total points (143), earning All-American honors.
Cowlishaw has been in charge of the Kickers since 2002 and has delivered multiple titles in both the second and third divisions. He is a true one-club man having also played for the Kickers before he took the top job 12 years ago.
Henry Kalungi is an imposing central defender who skippers the Kickers. Kalungi, 26, played at Winthrop University and has 15 caps for the Ugandan national team.
Kalungi joined the Kickers in 2009 and has since spent three loan spells away, two of which were with the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL.
Strong, quick and a true leader, he will hold the Kickers’ defence together and provide a stern test for the likes of Dwight Gayle, Glenn Murray and Marouane Chamakh tonight.
Matthew Delicate is an English striker originally from Kent, but he made his name in the college game with the Virginia Commonwealth Rams.
He has played for the Kickers since 2004, going on to become the franchise’s record goal-scorer.
After two brief spells with the Rochester Rhinos and Ebbsfleet United, Delicate returned to the Kickers in 2010 and has become a legend at the club.
He is currently the top scorer in the USL – with 12 goals in 17 games at the time of writing – so Palace’s defence will need to keep a close eye on him today.
Style of Play
Richmond are known for developing plenty of players who have gone on to move into the MLS and with the strong collegiate soccer teams in the area (Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest et al.) they aren’t short of quality, young American players.
Palace should expect to come up against a team who can keep the ball well and can attack with pace.
As a member of the USL Pro, they are now the affiliate club of Major League Soccer side DC United, which means at least five MLS players go on loan to Richmond each season.
Their status as one of the top clubs outside of the MLS remains, as they’ve shocked plenty of top tier teams in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
W 2-1 v Harrisburg City Islanders
D 1-1 v Charleston Battery
W 4-0 v Charleston Battery
W 2-1 v Sacramento Republic
D 0-0 v Real Salt Lake Reserves
2nd in USL Pro
Follow Joe on Twitter: @JPW_NBCSports