Ryan Richter: Charleston Perspective

Richter in preseason action for DC United - USA TODAY Sports

Further insight into the newest Toronto FC player, Ryan Richter, from someone who has watched him play several times in Charleston last season.

We got the chance to catch up with Dan Conover, a Charleston, South Carolina based blogger, to talk about Ryan Richter and just what Toronto FC is getting with their newest addition. You can find more of his thoughts about the Battery on his blog, CCHSSoccer.net, including his thoughts on the move for RIchter with comments from myself and Charleston Club President Andrew Bell.

Here is what Dan had to say about Richter and what TFC fans can expect from the 23 year old American:

Richter was a key contributor to a 2012 Battery team that finished third in the USL PRO Commissioners Cup standings (12-2-10) before beating 2nd seed Rochester on the road in the playoffs and winning the USL PRO Championship at home against Wilmington. Richter made 29 appearances on the year, started all three playoff matches, and put up two goals and four assists on the year.

It's probably safe to say that he was one of the bigger acquisitions of 2012 (he spent the previous year with Harrisburg on loan), and having come from MLS I think there was always a sense here that his time in a Battery uniform was going to be limited.

The 2012 team had a solid back line and got most of its offensive firepower from the central midfield/striker combo of Nicki Paterson and Jose Cuevas, so Richter played more of a supporting midfield role on the right side of the formation.

Richter had gone on trial with DC United before, and the sense here in Charleston this winter went he went back for a second trial was that he'd probably sign with them. When that didn't happen, after an extended stay in their camp, the term I heard down here from two separate team sources was "strung along."

Richter spent about a week in Charleston this winter. The Battery beat the College of Charleston 3-0 in Ryan's only appearance of the preseason, and it's interesting that Toronto views him as a defender, because that's where he spent much of the match on Feb. 28. Coach Mike Anhaeuser's camp has been a rolling audition for the right back spot, and Richter probably did more with his shot there than anyone. He recorded two assists, should have had another, and came close to scoring on his own.

Granted, the level of competition was radically different than what he'll face in MLS, but Richter stood out to everyone that afternoon. Practically every conversation in the stands turned to his performance in the second, because he just looked so physically dominant and commanding. I remembered him being a quality player in 2012, but the player I saw on Feb. 28th looked radically improved, focused and confident.

Coach Anhaeuser on Richter after that match: "He’s a big, strong guy. He’s able to play a couple of positions, but he’s probably more of an offensive threat. I played him in the back just to see. I think he could do it."

Anhaeuser also told me that the connecting thread between DC and Toronto was the hiring of former DCU assistant Pat Onstad as your director of scouting. Onstad had already seen enough of Richter to know that United was letting a good player slip.

It's just an observation, and not based on anything anyone said off the record, but I left my first conversation with Anhaeuser about Richter's trial in Toronto with the distinct impression that he wouldn't be coming back. There's not that much difference between the top of USL PRO and the bottom of most MLS 18s, and Richter's a talented player who seems to have made the mental leap.
You get the sense that Richter was clearly an above average player in USL PRO so making that jump into MLS should not be that far of a stretch for him. There is also a sense that he would not have left Charleston unless he was going to a club that he felt was going to give him the chance to play minutes and continue his development in 2013. Having already spent a year on the bench with the Philadelphia Union it is unlikely that he is looking to do that again and should be looking to make a contribution this year.

In Dan's article on the signing he chatted with the Battery's President, Andrew Bell, and that provided some insight that is also worth sharing (go read the whole article anyhow!)

"Remember, Ryan spent a year with the Philadelphia Union, and then they released him. And then he spent preseason with DC, and they released him, and then he came to us. So he’s been in the MLS system. It’s just, for whatever reason, whether it’s position or whether it’s the coach at the time, it just doesn’t always work out. But obviously he’s a good player and I think we’ve got several players of his caliber, or better, even, you know. Hopefully the process continues."

"I thought he was a very good player," Bell said. "He was playing in a position where he had some very fierce competition last year in Navion Boyd, who is a Jamaican international, but I think if you look at Ryan’s stats, at the end of the season he played in all three playoff games. Started them all. That probably speaks for itself."

"I think they’re looking at him primarily as a defender, so we’ll see how that works out. He’s a very strong and committed player."

Obviously a club's President is going to be full of wonderful things to say about a player that he just sold to a team at a higher level but it is good to see that Richter was capable of being a key player at the USL PRO level. All the talk coming from Charleston about Richter sounds quite positive and they seem to think we are getting a good player. Hopefully, they are right.

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