Kickers primed for double

The Richmond Kickers completed step one in their quest for an American double by winning the USISL's Premier League title Aug. 11 in Richmond.

Step two will come Aug. 27 in El Paso when the Kickers face the Pro League's El Paso Patriots in the all-USISL U.S. Open Cup final.

The head of Brian Kamler accounted for two quick goals in the opening 20 minutes to give the Kickers a lead they wouldn't relinquish en route to a 3-1 win over the Cocoa Expos in the Premier League final, attended by about 5,000 spectators at the University of Richmond Stadium.

The first goal came 10 minutes into the game when former Davidson all-America Rob Ukrop beat a man down the right edge of the penalty box and sent a cross over to Kamler, who headed into an open net.

Kamler's second goal came eight minutes later. This time it was William & Mary product Khary Stockton who crossed for the score.

The Expos temporarily cut the deficit shortly after halftime on an unassisted goal by substitute Mark Phillips, before Ukrop, the Premier League's regular-season MVP, put the game on ice off a pass from Ben Crawley.

It was a satisfying goal for Ukrop, who had two goals called back on him in the game, one on a foul and the other on an offside call.

Kamler's two goals in the final earned him playoff MVP honors.

Just as deftly as he scored, Kamler deflected the praise for his effort.

"I did the easy part," Kamler said to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "The guys who got me the ball put it right on my head; all I had to do was put it home.

Richmond needed a shootout to beat the San Francisco All Blacks after the two teams played to a 0-0 tie in the semifinals. Cocoa downed Des Moines 3-1 in the other semifinal. The All Blacks captured third place with a 4-1 win over Des Moines.

Other Premier League awards: Rookie of the Year -- goalkeeper Eduardo Yoldi (San Francisco All Blacks); Coaches of the Year -- Blair Reed and Doug Mello (Des Moines); Organization of the Year -- Richmond Kickers.

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