Photo: Courtesy Glenn Riegel/Reading United
Reading United return to Albright College’s Shirk Stadium tonight at 7 pm for their PDL Eastern Conference Divisional Playoff match against Jersey Express.
United earned the right to host this round of the playoffs by virtue of their second place finish in the Mid-Atlantic Division. United will be making their fifth consecutive appearance in the PDL postseason showcase. Jersey finished just behind Reading and won the regular season series. This marks the second consecutive postseason in which United will host the Express in the Divisional Round of the PDL Playoffs.
2012 Regular Season records
Reading United: 11-2-3 (36 points, 2nd in Mid-Atlantic Division)
Jersey Express: 10-3-3 (33 points, 3rd in Mid-Atlantic Division)
Head to Head results
Jersey won the season series with a 1-0-1 record. Jersey dealt Reading their first loss of the 2012 season, 2-0, in a cynical match on Father’s Day. The Express defense led by goalkeeper Rafael Diaz held firm to keep United’s red hot offense off the scoreboard. Jersey took a second half lead through a thunderbolt shot from leading scorer Joseph Ovenseri. Nineteen minutes later, Ovenseri turned provider and set up Jerrod Laventure’s goal in the 79th minute to settle the match.
The rematch in Newark last Wednesday saw the two clubs settle for a 1-1 draw. With playoff seeding on the line, the teams engaged in an entertaining match which saw Jersey get on the scoreboard first. Jersey right back Chris Karcz finished an excellent cross from Jake Keegan to give the Express a 7th minute lead. Following the goal, United settled down, controlled play and held possession for most of the match. Their hard work was rewarded in the 72nd minute when the PDL’s leading scorer Deshorn Brown was left unmarked at the top of Jersey’s penalty area. Taking a cross from Donovan, Brown side volleyed the ball into the back of the net to level the score.
Reading United enter the PDL playoffs on a seven-match unbeaten run. In a showdown with division leader Ocean City on Friday night, United showed grit and determination to end the Nor’easters winning streak at eight. Despite being down to 10 men after Stephen Okai was sent off in the 31st minute, Reading used second half goals from Steve Neumann and Paul Wyatt to earn a dramatic 2-0 victory. United finished the 2012 regular season on the road against the Central Jersey Spartans. Neumann again opened the scoring for Reading in the 33rd minute off a cross from Ian Christianson. The Spartans leveled the score in the 91st minutes before David Rodriguez scored a dramatic winner for United in the 94th minute.
Over the final six matches, Deshorn Brown tallied eight times to finish atop the PDL’s goal scoring charts with 13 goals in 13 matches for Reading. Reading’s defense was also the stingiest in the Mid-Atlantic Division, allowing only 11 goals in 16 matches. Goalkeeper Emmanuel Martin posted a 0.640 goals against average and six clean sheets in 2012. United’s defense received a boost with the addition of former UNC and Harrisburg City Islanders center back David Rodriguez. Rodriguez was an important fixture in the 2011 Reading United defense and was on the Harrisburg squad that went all the way to the 2011 USL Pro Final versus Orlando City. United concluded the season without some of their key contributors, many of whom returned to their college teams to prepare for the upcoming NCAA season.
Reading posted a fine 5-1-2 home record this campaign. Jersey handed Reading their only home loss of the season.
Jersey closed out their season on Saturday with a 2-0 win at the Long Island Rough Riders. Jersey used the match rest their leading scorer Jospeh Ovenseri, who was tied for third in the PDL with 11 goals. The win propelled Jersey into a rematch of last season’s divisional playoff in which the Express went on the road stunned a talent laden United squad 1-0.
The Express are a difficult team to break down as they stay compact and disciplined on defense. While bunkered down in their defensive third, the Express like to attack through a quick counter led by the physically imposing Ovenseri. Jersey becomes extremely difficult to beat when they grab an early lead. When scoring the first goal of a match, the Express compiled a 9-1-3 record. In June, Jersey went 587 minutes without conceding a goal and posted 6 consecutive clean sheets.
Jersey posted a solid 5-2-1 record on their travels this season.
Kickoff is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7pm. Tickets are on sale at the Shirk Stadium ticket office for $5. Anyone age 18 and under that comes to the playoff match wearing their high school or soccer club jersey will be admitted free. Anyone age 5 and under is also admitted at no charge.