One Year After Loss in Final, Ryan Richter has Chance to Win One for the Cosmos

IMAGE, STEVE HAMLIN/COSMOS COUNTRY PODCAST

by JAKE NUTTING

At this time last year, Ryan Richter was gearing up with Ottawa Fury FC to take on the New York Cosmos in the NASL’s championship final.

Richter and his teammates lost that bout, but he has another shot at the title this weekend, this time while suiting up for the guys in green and white.

The second chance at the championship has sprung up fairly quickly. Like much of Ottawa’s 2015 squad, Richter departed for another opportunity. He landed close to home with Philadelphia Union’s USL reserve squad Bethlehem Steel in order to be around family for the birth of his child. Richter was a standout at Bethlehem, finishing the year in the lead for appearances, goals and assists.

An unlikely transfer in the penultimate month of the NASL Fall Season gave Richter an unexpected shot at joining a first-place team as the USL season came to a close. The Cosmos were in need of an experienced defender to fill the shoes of Hunter Freeman after his move to Miami FC and 27-year-old Richter fit the bill perfectly.

“The group in the locker room was great for me from the first day that I was here, very welcoming,” Richter said. “They made me feel like I was part of the squad for a long time. The adjustment felt very short because of all the players in the locker room.”

After only just surpassing the 500-minute mark for the Cosmos in last week’s semifinal win over Rayo OKC, Richter is set to start in his second straight NASL final. Earning a regular starting spot on the talented Cosmos roster is a hurdle for some, but Richter put in the work to lock down the right back position over the last seven matches.

“I think it was a pretty easy transition to join the team because there’s so many quality players on the squad,” he said. “So when you’re out there playing, it’s guys that are very easy to play with. It’s very easy to read their game because they’re so intelligent, so experienced, that it really makes it a group effort and easier to join in.”

Richter isn’t the only former Ottawa starter looking to take hold of the Soccer Bowl trophy on Sunday. New York’s opponent Indy Eleven pulled off the biggest raid of any team on Ottawa’s roster in the offseason, signing Nicki Paterson, Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Colin Falvey for the rebuild that saw them earn a Spring Season championship and a spot in the final.

Naturally, some lighthearted ribbing about the upcoming final has occurred between the former teammates, who Richter says he has remained close with following Ottawa’s remarkable run to the final last year.

“Well Falvey hasn’t let Twitter forget he had a couple stitches last game, I’ve seen that a few times from him,” Richter joked. “All those guys are close friends of mine, so I’ve been talking with them throughout the week and I’m looking forward to playing against them in a final this weekend.”