Photo: Courtesy of Glenn Reigel/Reading United AC
Reading United entered last weekend’s home stand against Bermuda Hogges and Brooklyn Knights smarting from a three game winless streak. That streak included two consecutive losses for the first time since the club finished fourth in the PDL’s Mid Atlantic Division in 2007, which also happens to be the last time the club failed to qualify for the playoffs.
While it would be too much to say that panic was rising, the frustration certainly was. In a situation that will be familiar to Philadelphia Union fans, Reading was creating plenty of chances, they simply weren’t finishing them. In the 2-0 loss to Jersey Express, United outshot the victors 12 to 6. In the 1-0 road loss to Baltimore Bohemians, it was 14 to 10. In the 1-1 draw with Long Island Rough Riders, it was 13 to 8. It’s the kind of stuff that drives players, coaches, and fans crazy.
Enter Deshorn Brown.
Before this weekend’s games, Brown led the team with 5 goals, but he had been silent during the winless streak, last netting in the 2-0 win over New Jersey Rangers on June 13. Having decided enough was enough, he and his teammates pasted Bermuda Hogges on Friday with a comprehensive 4-0 win. Brown scored the first 2 goals in that confidence builder, beginning with a strike 3 minutes before the end of the first half, scoring again 4 minutes after the resumption of play. He was assisted on both tallies by his former University of Mobile teammate Stephen Okai, who also scored the third goal of the evening—his first of the season—from a free kick. (Brown is transferring to University of Central Florida.)
Short rest over a sweltering weekend did nothing to dampen the spirits of Brown and his teammates when they hosted Brooklyn Knights on Sunday night. Up 2-0 at the half thanks to the efforts of Steven Neumann and a penalty kick goal from Okai, Brown scored twice in the space of five minute to record his second brace of the weekend to put the result beyond any doubt, assisted once again by Okai on the first goal. It was Brown’s third brace of the season, the first coming in a 4 minute span in the 2-0 win over Baltimore Bohemians on June 2.
With the weekend’s wins, Reading is now firmly back in the playoff picture, trailing first place Ocean City Nor’easters by 4 points with 4 games to play, 3 of which are on the road.
Brown now leads the team with 9 goals and is sixth in the league. Reading are 6-0-0 when he has scored.
He said after Sunday’s win, “I knew we need another goal. So I went out there for another goal and after I got the second one, they were done. They were just like, ‘It’s over.’”
That’s the kind of drive and instinct for goal that energizes both individual and collective self-belief. Looking forward to a playoff run, a couple of braces to underscore dominant team performances also help to put a disappointing stretch of games down the memory hole.
All of which is why Deshorn Brown is PSP’s Player of the Week.
- Stephen Okai
The native of Ghana recorded 2 goals and 3 assists for Reading over the weekend. His goal against Bermuda, his first of the season, came from a free kick while the goal against Brooklyn came from a penalty kick and he assisted on 3 of Brown’s 4 goals. Pushing Okai into a more attacking role in the midfield has proven to be an inspired decision and the potent partnership between Okai and Brown is sure to be a factor in Reading’s run for the playoffs.
- Amobi Okugo
Okugo continues to impress in his new role as a central defender with the Union. Whatever happens when new signing Bakary Soumare is fit enough to compete for a start, Okugo is demonstrating he is the kind of player that John Hackworth has to find ways of getting on the pitch.