USMNT defender Chris Richards says he will "never forget" his first Bundesliga goal after the American scored a dramatic late winner for Hoffenheim in a 2-1 victory over Freiburg on Saturday.
Richards' maiden strike as a senior pro earned Hoffenheim three important points against Baden-Württemberg rivals Freiburg, as the two teams traded places in the table with Sebastian Hoeneß's men climbing to fourth.
The 21-year-old became the 15th different player to find the net for Hoffenheim this season, opening his Bundesliga account on his 28th outing in Germany's top flight. And he could not have waited for a better time to do it.
"It was a really good feeling," Richards told bundesliga.com. "Scoring the winning goal in stoppage time just meant even more to me and to the team. We've been on a good run, so me being able to do that to give us the win, it was something that I'll never forget."
Watch: Richards reflects on his first Bundesliga goal
Richards rose to meet a David Raum corner in the fourth minute of injury time in what was a keenly contested encounter in Freiburg. “Shortly after the game, I got a lot of messages from friends and family who congratulated me on my first goal and the victory. It felt really good to make it 2-1," the Alabama native later said in an interview with his club's official website.
Earlier in the game, Freiburg equalised while Richards was off the field of play getting treatment for a knock. That gave the on-loan Bayern Munich defender even more reason to make amends. That he did so to such incredible effect, brought back words the 21-year-old uttered in the not so distant past: "They always count us out early, especially in football (but) we always want to be the hardest working people. . " Richards said in a nod to his compatriots. And thus, when goalkeeper Oliver Baumann saved a second-half penalty from Freiburg's Vincenzo Grifo, the stage was set for the young defender.
"Oli Baumann made it possible for us to win here by saving that penalty and we are very grateful to him," Richards explained.
Hoffenheim now fly into the final two fixtures of 2021 in a promising position as they look to push for European football next season, and Richards says the results on the field reflect the mood within the camp.
"We're training really hard and have now won four in a row," he said. "We're feeling good and are delighted to have three more points. We feel like brothers and give everything for each other out there, and you can see that. This is what we are all about."
The American and assist provider Raum have plenty to celebrate, with both opening their Bundesliga accounts on a day neither will ever forget
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