Featured image: Hendrik Wandel
Author’s Note: I admit I’ve been slacking on my Reading United coverage this season on Philly Soccer Page. As Reading United’s Communications Director, much of my week is spent preparing previews, writing match reports and compiling our popular Alumni Report for the club’s website and social media outlets. With a pesky real world job, I’ve run out of hours to write up my match recaps for Philly Soccer Page. At the advice of our sage editors, I’ve decided to move to a weekly column to keep you all updated on all the good things that are happening with Reading United. I’ll recap the previous week’s matches and preview upcoming games. You’ll see interesting tidbits on our talented squad and get a peek at the colorful personalities that pull on the Reading United jersey. I hope you enjoy the new column and welcome your feedback.
It was a busy week for Reading United A.C. with three matches in five days. The Union’s Premier Development League affiliate went on the road to Long Island, grabbing a hard fought result against an opponent that has troubled United in past seasons. The club followed that up with rain soaked friendly match at home against the Union on Friday night. The squad wrapped up the busy week by turning what looked like a comfortable win into a nail biter.
Reading United sit in first place in the PDL’s Mid-Atlantic Division, but the schedule is about to get much more challenging.
Long Island Rough Riders 0 – 0 Reading United
Defense ruled the day as United picked up a very important road point against Long Island. The Rough Riders have always played well against Reading and were United’s most challenging opponent to day. United peppered Long Island goalkeeper Brendan Lafferty with 12 shots, but the George Washington University keeper made 10 saves to keep Reading’s high powered offense off the scoreboard for the first time in 2013.
Long Island had the clearest scoring opportunity of the night. Dominik Sarle beat United keeper John McCarthy (La Salle University) but a clutch goal line clearance by defender Jonny Dolezal (Penn) preserved Reading United’s shutout streak, which stood at 360 minutes following the match.
Reading United 0 – 2 Philadelphia Union
In the fourth annual meeting between the teams, the Union used two first half goals to defeat United. It was a homecoming for Reading United alums Leo Fernandes, Ray Gaddis and Aaron Wheeler. Wheeler, the 2009 PDL MVP, did not disappoint in his return to Reading. The forward deflected a hard cross from Chris Albright past McCarthy to open the scoring in the 30th minute. Antoine Hoppenot doubled the Union’s advantage just five minutes later, taking a ball from Jimmy McLaughlin in space and calmly finished past McCarthy.
United Head Coach Brendan Burke was pleased with his team’s performance against the MLS side. “We played good soccer throughout the match,” Burke said. “I was really happy with the way our boys played tonight. They played at a fast pace and they looked comfortable for long stretches. I was happy with that.”
Union boss John Hackworth spoke of the value of the teams’ developmental partnership.
“We believe very strongly in this relationship and this affiliation. It’s great for us in so many ways. I think to have Reading continually be a club that produces the kind of players that they produce, it’s to our advantage to make sure we have our coaches see them. We use this opportunity to have a great game and hopefully have a great draft.”
One unfortunate aspect of the match was an ankle injury sustained by Union academy product and United midfielder Keegan Rosenberry. The injury occurred in the 28th minute when Union defender Matt Kassel made an ill advised slide tackle with studs showing. It is expected that Rosenberry will be out of action for a few matches.
Reading United 3 – 2 FA Euro New York Magic
The match looked as if it were well in hand. After struggling to find an opening in the Magic’s defense for the first 60 minutes of the match, United scored three goals in 19 minutes. Union academy graduate Darius Madison put United in front in the 60th minute, firing a shot from the top of the penalty area and through traffic for the opener. Second half substitute Larry Ndjock scored a brace with well worked goals in the 74th and the 79th minutes.
The Magic did not lay down for United. With time winding down, Magic forward Christian Marcel scored a tap in goal past Alex Bono. The goal ended United’s shutout streak at 449 minutes and gave the New York club a lifeline.
In stoppage time, FA Euro got a second. Sloppy defending along the Reading backline allowed Magic midfielder Dominick Falanga to bury a shot into the upper 90 to cut United’s lead to one.
The clock ended FA Euro’s rally. United survived the late fireworks and went top of the Mid-Atlantic Division.
Burke was less than pleased with his side’s failure to close out the match and he delivered a mixed verdict. “We played OK in the first half but were not playing fast enough to break them down with them sitting in a 4-5-1 in their own half. In the second half, we were very good when the game opened up.” The coach continued, “Obviously we were very disappointed to concede two goals in a five minute span like that and it was simply a collective lapse in concentration on our part.”
Key defender Damion Lowe was sent off in the 49th minute following a scuffle with an FA Euro player. Lowe will miss United’s big game against Ocean City on Saturday, June 15th.
Preview: Reading United (4-0-1) vs. Ocean City Nor’Easters (4-0-0)
Saturday’s marquee match against the Ocean City Nor’Easters will be for first place in the PDL’s Mid-Atlantic Division. Both teams enter the match with unbeaten records, with United holding a one point lead in the standings. Oh, did I mention this is a big rivalry match?
Ocean City won the division in 2012, but Reading won both matches between the clubs. Reading traveled to Ocean City and recorded a 2-1 win at Carey Field, thanks to goals from Deshorn Brown and Tolani Ibikunle. Ocean City came to Reading late in the season with a chance to clinch the division on their rival’s field. United defeated the Nor’Easters 2-0 despite being down a man for 59 minutes following Stephen Okai’s ejection.
Former Ocean City players John McCarthy, Jason Plumhoff (La Salle) and Jonny Dolezal are now important members of Reading’s squad, adding an interesting twist to the rivalry.
Ocean City is led by forward Anthony Asante and his four goals. The Reading defense will also need to be mindful of Zoncher Dennis and Frank Tweneboa.
One of United’s greatest strengths is the depth of the squad. Mario Pinto and Larry Ndjock lead United with three goals each while Darius Madison, Dante Marini, Manolo Sanchez and Jason Plumhoff each have two goals a piece. United backs Wes Charpie and Ben Sweat join the Reading attack with runs down the flanks. Team captain Steve Neumann pulls the strings in his attacking midfield role.
Tweet of the Week
If you’ve ever lived in a college dorm, you’ll sympathize with United goalkeeper Alex Bono:
A toaster is a basic appliance in most American households… Not here #RealLifeInReading
— Alexander Bono (@Alex25Bono) June 11, 2013