In the midst of D.C. United’s tough season, some Black-and-Red players have seen success in Richmond. Loanees Andrew Dysktra, Conor Shanosky, and Michael Seaton featured for the Richmond Kickers most often this season. Forward Casey Townsend, defender Taylor Kemp and midfielder Collin Martin also spent time on the field for the Kickers this year.
Last Saturday, Richmond fell to the Charlotte Eagles 2-1 in the Semifinal Round of the USL PRO playoffs. After being crowned the regular season champions, goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra said, “It felt like it was the law of averages.” And Shanoksy admitted, “It’s going to stay with us for a bit.”
Having only lost one game all season, Dykstra, Shanosky and Seaton were all disappointed in the way their season culminated, but agreed, as whole, it was a great success.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating to lose—frustrating to go out in that way,” said Shanosky. “But overall, you have to look at our season, and it was a good season. You have to take the positives from it.”
The homegrown defender can definitely walk away with his head held high, as he humbly listed a few positives he took away from the season.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of players, to be honest. Between the coaches and the staff and the players, it was a fun, fun year and I’ll be happy to win the regular season and happy that it helped my play here,” said Shanosky.
Though he was unable to pat himself on the back, his teammates Seaton and Dykstra took care of that for him.
“Conor is so positive,” Seaton said. “Even when you’re playing badly, he’s positive.”
Dykstra, who was named USL PRO First Team All-League, sang Shanosky’s praises.
“I thought Conor was excellent” he said. “He brought up the level of that team, was solid week in-week out and was great communicating with me. So, I think that for him, it was a great year.”
While Dysktra wishes he could have been better in the semifinal game, the talented veteran finished the regular season with the league’s lowest goals against average (.863), and registered an impressive 10 shutouts in 22 appearances.
“I kind of left with a sour taste in my mouth, but all the feedback I am getting from everyone has been good, statistically and amongst my teammates which matters more. I kind of proved it. I feel good about it,” Dysktra concluded.
Being named the top goalkeeper in ULS PRO is definitely something to feel "good" about, though at the time of the interview, Dysktra wasn’t yet aware he received that honor. He should also feel good about how much Seaton looks up to him, with ten years of age separating the two players.
“Dykstra is a leader,” Seaton stated sans that omnipresent smile—he meant business. “When Dykstra has a head of steam, he goes after it. He’s not running around on the field like everybody else, but you can always hear him.”
But D.C. United loanees are not solely to credit for the Kickers' succer. Joseph Ngwenya led the league in scoring with 11 tallies. The former MLS forward was also named to the USL PRO First Team, along with teammates William Yomby, who was the only Richmond player to appeare in all 30 regular season games as well as Open Cup and playoffs, and defender Henry Kalungi, who aided in registering those 10 shutouts this year.
As every member of the Richmond Kickers should, Dykstra, Shanosky and Seaton look back at their season with a sense of accomplishment, though they wouldn’t be professional athletes if they didn’t try to learn from every situation—always believing they could have done better.
“Don’t take the game for granted,” Seaton said when asked what he learned from his time in Richmond. “You can’t go in like ‘I am the best.’ You have to be humble and do your best to help your team out.”
Seaton said, for him, the season was split “50/50” between disappointment and success. Having scored 5 goals in 13 appearances, he was pleased with his own performance, acknowledging that it is all about playing games and developing at this stage in his career. With a few more years of experience to his jersey number, Dykstra looked back with a slightly different view.
“Leigh [Cowlishaw], the coach, after we were done, he said ‘you know guys, we kind of blew it tonight, but when you step back and after it’s all done, you’re going to realize how good of a year it really was, only losing one game all season.’”
After a pause, Dykstra decided for himself; “It is pretty good.”