Photos: Paul Rudderow
Reading United’s U.S. Open Cup dreams came to an end at Red Bull Arena as Major League Soccer powerhouse New York Red Bulls defeated United by a 2-0 scoreline. United held the Red Bulls scoreless for 61 minutes with resolute defending and some sensational goalkeeping. In the end, New York’s superiority prevailed and they advance to the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup.
The Red Bulls came out and pressed their young opponents from the opening whistle. New York midfielder Connor Lade and defender Roy Miller were active down Reading’s left flank, while Brazilian legend Juninho pulled the strings from the center of the pitch. United keeper John McCarthy was called into action early and often as the Red Bulls continually found chances in the final third of the pitch. Reading center backs Damion Lowe and Jimmy Ockford had a superb first half as they denied multiple Red Bull threats with clutch tackles.
McCarthy’s play in net was superb in the opening 45 minutes. After picking up a knock in the 15th minute, McCarthy battled on bravely and was Reading’s best player in the first half. The La Salle keeper did well to keep the Red Bulls from breaking through, making several spectacular diving stops while officially recording four saves.
United held the Red Bulls off the scoreboard in the first half and ran their consecutive shutout streak to 495 minutes.
Red Bulls Head Coach Mike Petke upped the ante following the break by inserting regular starters Dax McCarty in the match for Juninho and goal scoring threat Fabian Espindola for Peguy Luyindula. The tactic paid off 16 minutes into the second half. McCarty took the ball to the endline before hitting a perfect low cross across the face of goal. Espindola popped up at the far post and tapped the ball in giving the Red Bulls the lead. The goal snapped Reading’s shutout streak at an impressive 511 minutes.
McCarty masterminded the Red Bulls back-breaking second goal in the 67th minute. The midfielder found Espindola near the top of Reading’s penalty area and the big forward laid off for Lloyd Sam who hammered home his chance to make it 2-0.
United tried to mount a comeback, but were left hoping to hit the Red Bulls on a counterattack. As New York turned the final minutes of the match into a passing and possession drill, the cruel reality of Reading’s first defeat of the season set in.
When the referee blew the whistle for full time, the Reading players held their heads high. The 2-0 defeat was disappointing, but the once in a lifetime opportunity to face the New York Red Bulls in the Open Cup was an experience to not be forgotten.
Reading United return to Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium on Friday, June 7 to face their player development partners, the Philadelphia Union. The fourth meeting between the clubs will be Kicks Against Cancer Night as Reading and Philadelphia unite to raise money and awareness to help battle cancer.
NYRB 61′ – Fabian Espindola (Dax McCarty)
NYRB 67′ – Lloyd Sam (Fabian Espindola)
Reading United A.C.: John McCarthy; Jonny Dolezal, Damion Lowe, Jimmy Ockford, Ben Sweat; Wes Charpie (Dante Marini 73′), Steve Neumann, Keegan Rosenberry (Fatai Alashe 60′), Kadeem D’Acres; Larry Ndjock, Mario Pinto (Darius Madison 60′)
New York Red Bulls: Ryan Meara; Brandon Barlklage, Markus Holgersson, Heath Pearce, Roy Miller; Lloyd Sam (Eric Alexander 84′), Juninho (Dax McCarty 46′), Michael Bustamante, Connor Lade; Peguy Luyindula (Fabian Espindola 46′), Amando Moreno