With the Premier Development League season hitting it’s midway point, Reading United are once again poised to make the playoffs. The club is unbeaten through eight matches, having scored a league high 25 goals while conceding just four goals, a league low.
United are entering the most challenging portion of their schedule and must continue to pick up results against the teams around them. Reading sit atop the Mid-Atlantic Division and the PDL’s Eastern Conference, but just four points separate first place from fourth place. Only the top three teams in the division will make the PDL postseason.
Reading United 1 -1 Ocean City Nor’Easters
In a match that lived up to the pre-game hype, Reading grabbed a late equalizer to earn a draw with Ocean City. The Mid-Atlantic Division heavyweights thrilled the large crowd at Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium with attacking soccer.
Ocean City capitalized on a poor Reading pass and opened the scoring in first half stoppage time. United went on the counterattack, but a poorly weighted cross-field pass was intercepted by Ocean City’s right back. On their counter, Ocean City’s Duke Lecroix picked out a streaking Tony Asante, who broke through a momentarily disorganized Reading back line. Asante coolly looped a ball over Reading keeper John McCarthy to give Ocean City a 1-0 lead.
United dominated the second half, demonstrating their superior technical skill while crafting some very intricate build-up play. For most of the evening, Reading were just unable to find that one final pass to unlock the Ocean City defense. Then in the 86th minute, substitute Jason Plumhoff got his head to a Shane Campbell cross and scored the equalizer for Reading.
Following the game, United Head Coach Brendan Burke was satisfied with his side’s play. “I’m proud that our boys kept playing soccer, kept playing out of tight spaces, kept playing through the windows, kept playing fast and kept the right tempo. I’m really pleased with our team’s performance. The scoreline aside, I’m really pleased with the way we approached the game.” He continued, “If we continue to play that way, at that level, we’re going to win games.”
New Jersey Rangers 0 – 2 Reading United
Reading United hit the road for their second meeting with the New Jersey Rangers. In a hard fought match, United were able to grind out a 2-0 victory. Damion Lowe opened the scoring for United in the 33rd minute, when he poked home a ball bouncing in the Rangers’ penalty area. Fatai Alashe capped the scoring in the 70th minute with a blast for the top of the eightteen.
Reading keeper Alex Bono made three saves and earned his third clean sheet of the 2013 season.
Westchester Flames 1 – 4 Reading United
Reading had back to back trips to the New York Metro area as they headed to Westchester to take on the last place Flames. United crushed the Flames, 8-0, in the season opener at Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium. Coach Burke had some decisions to make with his starting XI, as injuries and training opportunities had left United with some roster holes.
Mario Pinto scored two goals in the first half and earned the hat trick with a 54th minute goal. Damion Lowe scored in back to back matches, heading home a powerful header from a great Jason Plumhoff free kick.
Defender Owen Griffith was ejected in the 52nd minute of the match and will miss the match against the Jersey Express.
Preview: Reading United (6-0-2) vs. Jersey Express (5-1-3)
Reading United are again set to host a battle for supremacy in the Premier Development League’s Mid-Atlantic Division. The second place Jersey Express come to Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium on Sunday for the first leg of a home and home series with United that will have major implications for the upcoming PDL playoffs.
The Express roll into Reading with momentum on their side. In their last match, the Newark, New Jersey club went on the road and beat the previously undefeated Ocean City Nor’Easters by a 2-0 score line. Jersey scored on goals from Thomas McNamara and Abdoulaye Coulibaly and survived a barrage of shots from the Nor’Easters to take over second place in the division.
Offensively, the Express are led by 2011 PDL Rookie of the Year and former Philadelphia Union supplemental draft pick, Jake Keegan. The Binghamton University forward leads his club with six goals in nine matches. The former Union draft pick will surely be looking to send a message to United Head Coach and Union Assistant Coach Brendan Burke.
Reading United players have been traveling across the United States and to Europe for various training opportunities with professional clubs. Steve Neumann, projected to be a high first round SuperDraft pick in 2014, spent a week training with the Portland Timbers. Neumann and fellow teammates Kadeem Dacres, Damion Lowe, Larry Ndjock and Wes Charpie have spent time training with the Philadelphia Union the past two weeks.
Left back Ben Sweat made headlines with news of a three week training tour of Europe. The highly regarded defender from the University of South Florida is training with teams in the Czech Republic and Sweden.
Patrick Slogic, a 6′ 5″ centerback from Cornell, is also on a training stint in Europe. He is currently working with an Austrian club.
Marcus Salandy-Defour, a rising sophomore out of the University of Virginia, has recently departed to train with npower Championship club Derby County in England. Salandy-Defour was named to the All-ACC Freshman team in 2012.
Reading also announced the return of former defenders Eric Schoenle and Matt Baker. Schoenle returns to Reading after being selected by the Union with the 12th pick in the MLS Supplemental Draft. The center back from West Virginia University was let go by the Union in pre-season but hooks up again with Coach Brendan Burke to provide some defensive cover for Reading. Baker returns for his third season with the club, having played 29 matches for Reading in 2011 and 2012. The former Pittsburgh Panther was named to the PDL’s All-Eastern Conference team following the 2011 season.