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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

RailHawks sign Richardson, add Caribbean heat to attack

Posted by on Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 6:30 PM

click to enlarge Gregory Richardson, seen July 3 against the Wilmington Hammerheads. (photo by Rich Bostwick)
  • Gregory Richardson, seen July 3 against the Wilmington Hammerheads. (photo by Rich Bostwick)

Today, the RailHawks made an announcement that those who attended the July 3 friendly against Wilmington must have eagerly anticipated: The signing of Guyanese forward Gregory Richardson. I was (happily) at the beach so I missed what appears to have been an exciting debut by the trialist, who assisted Kupono Low on a goal in the first half of the 3-0 win.

Most intriguing is the fact that Richardson played last season for the celebrated Joe Public FC of Trinidad & Tobago, and became famous in soccer circles for scoring five goals in four games in the 2008-09  CONCACAF Champions League, including a hat trick against the New England Revolution.

His newfound notoriety helped him get a look in the MLS, first with Toronto FC and then with the Colorado Rapids. He didn't find his footing with either club, finally being waived June 26.

On the RailHawks' official blog, team reporter Tim Candon confides that coach Martin Rennie was so excited about Richardson that he wanted to keep his trial status as low-profile as possible until the team was able to sign him.

Obviously, the hope is that Richardson will bring a badly needed killer instinct to the final third of the field—the RailHawks' finishing instincts have been spotty all season. 

The RailHawks travel to Charleston Saturday, July 11, for a crucial showdown against the first-place Battery, who are six points ahead of the fourth-place ’Hawks.

The RailHawks' official announcement is after the jump.

RAILHAWKS ADD GUYANESE FORWARD RICHARDSON

CARY, N.C. - The Carolina RailHawks have signed Guyanese international forward Gregory Richardson, pending U.S. Soccer Federation approval, the club announced Wednesday.

Richardson has been on trial with the RailHawks since last Thursday. He started Friday's friendly against Wilmington, and he was a menace on the left flank the entire 45 minutes he played. After several threatening runs throughout the first half, Richardson's work paid off in the 35th minute when his work out wide led to the game's first goal.

"It's been nice," Richardson said of his time with the RailHawks so far. "I like the players, the coach, getting a chance to play now. Everything has been good. It's just the chance I need."

Richardson began his professional career in 2005-06, playing with Beacon and Pele FC in his home country. In 2007, he signed with Joe Public FC of the Trinidad & Tobago Pro League. He led the team to the 2008 First Citizens Cup, scoring four goals in four games, and he was the top goal scorer and MVP of the tournament. He made a name for himself and Joe Public in the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League when he scored five goals in four matches - including a hat trick plus an assist in a 4-0 romp over the New England Revolution - to lead Joe Public to the tournament's group stage.

In January, Richardson went on trial with Toronto FC and appeared in three preseason matches for TFC. In February, he was traded to the Colorado Rapids, where he remained until June 26, when he was waived. During his time with Colorado, Richardson appeared in one league match, playing 11 minutes as a substitute in the Rapids' season-opening 2-1 loss to Chivas USA. Richardson also started and played 79 minutes of the Rapids' 1-0 loss to Seattle in a U.S. Open Cup play-in game on May 26. He is the first native of Guyana to play in Major League Soccer.

Richardson has also featured prominently in Guyana's national team program. He played for the Golden Jaguars at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels before making his senior international debut in a 1-0 win over Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Jan. 13, 2008. Richardson appeared in seven matches for Guyana in 2008, scoring three goals, including two in last year's Caribbean Championships.

"He's good at dribbling at people one-v-one, and against some of these teams, you have to have someone who can do that," said Carolina coach Martin Rennie. "And he can score goals, as well."

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