Ryan Sierakowski’s second goal in three games gave Forward Madison a hard-fought 1-0 win over Richmond Kickers Saturday night, vaulting the Flamingoes to sixth place in USL League One. The top six teams make the playoffs in November.
The match was a defensive struggle in the midfield that yielded few real chances — Madison only mustered three shots on target while Richmond didn’t fare much better with six.
Sierakowski’s goal came just five minutes into the second half as he was able to shake a defender, receive a low cross from Jake Keegan and hammer it past Richmond goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald.
The Mingos’ defense was able to make that goal stand up despite consistent pressure from Richmond over much of the second half. Madison ended the game with 31 clearances to Richmond’s 17.
The win was the club’s first since August 14 and only its second since June 30.
Head Coach Carl Craig said he hoped the result would be “a turning point” on a season that started strong but found the Mingos in second-to-last place in the table as of this morning.
“It was a fight … Their direct style made it difficult for us,” Craig said after the match. “Three massive points.”
Craig praised Sierakowski not only for his goal-scoring prowess.
“Not bad, is it?” Craig said of the loanee from New England Revolution II’s two goals since joining Forward Madison. “But it’s not just that. His movement off the ball has been tremendous. Gives us a little more speed.”
With the club’s September 1 match at Richmond postponed due to inclement weather caused by Hurricane Ida, Madison hasn’t had a game since a 1-0 loss to last-place North Carolina FC on August 25. Craig called the break “a huge advantage,” noting the team had played six games in 18 days leading up to that loss.
“We were dying,” he said. “Those few extra days were a godsend.” The layoff allowed the club to get healthier as Christian Enriquez returned to the lineup, leaving only Jiro Barriga Toyama as the only regular starter still out with a knee injury for at least a few more weeks.
The Mingos next head to Canada to take on Toronto FC 2 on Friday, then host defending champions Greenville Triumph on September 25.