Tuesday, May 14, 2013
READING, Pa. – Reading United A.C. defeated the 2012 NPSL Champions FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic 2-0 on Tuesday night to advance to the second round of the 100th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Reading used a two-goal outburst shortly after halftime to secure the club’s second win in U.S. Open Cup history. With the win, Reading will face fellow Philadelphia Union affiliate the Harrisburg City Islanders next Tuesday in the second round.
The first half saw Reading hold a decided advantage in possession. Much like Saturday’s 8-0 demolition of the Westchester Flames, United came out aggressively, playing large portions of the match in Lehigh Valley’s half of the field. Sonic countered by staying well organized, thwarting wave after wave of pressure.
Reading’s first real opportunity of the match came in the 19th minute when midfielder Manolo Sanchez struck a ball from the right wing that hammered off the crossbar and was eventually cleared. Whether it was the excitement of a cup tie or excellent marking, several Reading players saw their shots sail over the goal. United outshot their opponents 7-3 in the first half, but only forced Sonic keeper Charlie Sales to make one save.
Lehigh Valley had a golden opportunity to catch Reading on a counter in the 37th minute. Following a Reading corner kick, Sonic cleared and launched a counter-attack that saw them have a three-on-one advantage. Great hustle by United defender Jimmy Ockford and midfielder Keegan Rosenberry broke up the play and ended Sonic’s opportunity.
With the half winding down, Larry Ndjock fired a shot that rattled the post. In the ensuing scramble to clear the ball, the Reading bench shouted for handball, but referee Eric Weisbrod allowed the final seconds of play to tick off before whistling for halftime.
The second half began with United again exerting pressure in Sonic’s half. The aggressive tactics worked and in the 50th minute when Reading United found the breakthrough goal. Ndjock began a run down the right side of the field, with Philadelphia Union academy graduate Darius Madison tracking the run in the center channel. Njdock beat his mark and found Madison alone in the Sonic penalty area. With the goal at his mercy, Madison coolly stroked the ball into the back of the net to hand United a well-deserved 1-0 lead.
With the advantage, Reading continued to press forward. Right back Wes Charpie earned a throw in following an aggressive run down the right flank. Charpie picked out captain Steve Neumann on the throw-in, who took the ball down the end line as he drove toward goal. From a nearly impossible angle, Neumann looked up and saw the keeper off his line and fired a shot that nestled just inside the side netting to double United’s advantage.
"I just saw the goalie off a little bit, the guys were asking me if it was a shot or a cross," said Neumann. "I’ll take it to my grave that it was a shot," the Georgetown midfielder said with a smile.
With the insurance goal, United went looking for a third goal to kill off the match. Creating more opportunities to score, Reading forced Sales into several acrobatic saves to keep the match at 2-0. As the scoreboard clock showed 10 minutes remaining, Sonic desperately went searching for a goal. It was end-to-end stuff in the closing moments as each team attacked and then counterattacked. United goalkeeper John McCarthy did well to save a stinging long-range effort from Sonic forward Joe Sales.
The late surge by FC Lehigh Valley United came up empty as McCarthy, who made four saves on the evening, and his defense earned their second consecutive clean sheet to start the 2013 season.
"Couldn’t be more pleased with the way the players listened and how they responded," Reading coach Brendan Burke said. "I’m going to enjoy coaching this team this summer," the head coach said with a grin from ear to ear.
With the 2-0 victory, Reading will host fellow Union affiliate and USL PRO side Harrisburg City Islanders in the Second Round of the 100th U.S. Open Cup next Tuesday at Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium. This will mark the second time the clubs have met in the Cup, with Harrisburg scoring twice in the final five minutes to come from behind and beat Reading 2-1 in 2011.
Reading United return to Premier Development League action this Sunday when they host the New Jersey LUSO Rangers at Don Thomas Stadium. Kickoff for that match is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tickets are available at www.readingunitedac.com. Reading United offer 2013 Game Day Youth Packages, Group Discount Packages, Birthday Parties and Fundraising Ticket Packages. Contact Denise Strohmayr at email@example.com for all your group needs.