U.S. Open Cup: NY Red Bulls Defeat Amateur Club Reading United 2-0

New York Red Bulls playmaker Juninho (Image via SI Photos)

The New York Red Bulls battled in their first game of the centennial U.S. Open Cup against a mix of college students and amateur players from Reading United AC. The visitors were granted the chance to play against the Red Bulls after defeating USL PRO  side Harrisburg City Islanders 1-0 in the second round last week.

Ian Christianson (right foot injury) and Digao (heel injury) and Tim Cahill (international duty) all missed the match, while team-leading scorer Thierry Henry watched from the stands at the Red Bull Arena.

The game marked the first time these two clubs have ever encountered each other. But, it was only in the second-half that the Red Bulls took full advantage of their inexperienced opponents to impose themselves and run out 2-0 victors.

For the first 45 minutes, the collegiate players held their ground versus an inefficient NYRB. The club from New Jersey, however, controlled the game from the 12th minute, using both wings extensively. Outside of the 18-yard box, sat a usually unmarked Juninho, who tried to find Peguy Luyindula.

Reading United tried to force their way through the back of Heath Pearce, yet the only two chances they got in the first-half were not on target. The Red Bulls took eleven shots on goal with four forcing Reading’s defense to be on active duty. Without either side hitting the mark, the first-half finished in a scoreless draw.

Unhappy with that scoreline, head coach Mike Petke returned to the pitch substituting two players at once: Fabian Espindola and Dax McCarty entered to replace Juninho and Luyindula. And, 16 minutes later they produced what Petke wanted from the kick-off.

In the 61st minute, McCarty recuperated possession and the playmaker got involved with Espindola for a give-and-go play, which led to him entering the nine-yard box and passing back to Espindola at the other end to push the ball in and break the ice.

After the first goal, the Red Bulls figured out how to better penetrate through the right-wing and they double their lead in the 66th minute.

A set piece from the midfield turned into another give-and-go play, started by Espindola. He left Lloyd Sam in front of the Pennsylvania club’s goalie and the Englishman buried the ball in the back of the net.

This forced Reading to attack more frequently. On back-to-back opportunities they came close to scoring from a 22-yard shot as well as from a header. For ten more minutes both sides played wide open, putting their managers’ strategies on hold. To calm the match down, Petke wrapped things up by pulling Sam out for Eric Alexander.

This victory increase the Red Bull’s unbeaten record to eight matches — a run that has not happened to the New Jersey side since 2003.

Now the Red Bulls are only four matches away from a quarter-million dollars and the quickest way to make it into next season’s Concacaf Champions League. If they overcome the New England Revolution in the fourth round on June 12th, the NYRB will beat their season-high in the Cup from last year.

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