WALLINGFORD, Pa. – Throughout his college career, Ryan Richter was an offensive dynamo, scoring a total of 28 goals for La Salle University while logging 13 assists. Now that he’s with the Philadelphia Union, however, Richter has been asked to stop goals rather than score them.
In Philly’s 2-1 Reserve League win over the Red Bulls on Sunday, Richter showed how far he’s come in learning a new position, playing a full 90 minutes at right fullback and slowing down a strong Red Bull attack that featured, among other promising players, Corey Hertzog and John Rooney.
“Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to this since the season started,” said Richter, who was selected in the first round of the MLS Supplemental Draft.
After impressing the Union coaches during the preseason, he was signed on March 1, but has yet to log any minutes with the first team.
“It was great to go out here and get a result,” he continued. “We did a good job shutting them down and not giving them too many chances.”
Richter certainly didn’t look like someone uncomfortable on the backline. With his big 6-foot-2 frame, he was able to impose his physicality on smaller offensive players, while still making plenty of runs along the sideline.
“I try to take advantage of all the open space out there,” Richter said. “I try to run until I can’t run anymore, and hope to make it for the entire game.”
[inline_node:326040]Richter wasn’t the only converted offensive player showcasing his skills at defense Sunday. Michael Farfan, another Union rookie, played the entire game at left fullback and impressed the reserve-team coach, Brendan Burke.
“His versatility is invaluable,” Burke said, “and I think he’s someone you’ll see pop up on the first team over and over again.”
With very few defensive players on their roster, the Union still had to call up Andrew Welker from the Harrisburg City Islanders to play center back alongside Juan Diego Gonzalez for the club’s first-ever Reserve League game.
But by the time the game ended, it was clear the Union have more defensive depth than most people realize. The 30-year-old González – who figures to be the first defender off the bench should any of the starters go down – was steady and mistake-free in the center, while Richter and Farfan were more than serviceable at fullback.
“Every time I read things on the Internet, that’s a big question – if someone’s gonna get hurt, who’s gonna fill in?” Richter said. “I read those things, too. I just want to kind of prove myself every game. Hopefully I’ll get my chance eventually with the first team.”