Match preview: Union venture to take on PDL affiliate Reading United for fourth straight season

Union ready for annual summer battle against Reading (7 p.m.)

Williams vs. Reading United

Photo Credit: 
Reading United

Philadelphia Union vs. Reading United

When: Friday, 7 p.m.; Where: Don Thomas Stadium, Exeter, Pa.

TV: None; Radio: None; Online: Follow all the action via the Union's matchday feed on Twitter @TheUMatchday

All-time (three meetings): Union: 2-0-1 overall; Reading: 0-2-1 overall

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While it’ll most likely be in a driving downpour, for the fourth straight season the Union will travel to take on its USL-PDL affiliate Reading United.

The two teams enter this match knowing a great deal about the other – after all only 60 miles separate the two clubs and Reading (3-0-1, 10 points in USL-PDL division) is coached by none other than Union assistant Brendan Burke.

In addition, Ray Gaddis, Leo Fernandes and Aaron Wheeler are all former Reading alums that have seen action in MLS matches this year for the Union. Wheeler, who led Reading to the PDL regular season crown and collected most valuable player honors in 2009, made his MLS debut for the Union in Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat of Columbus.

View: Reading is United to fight cancer fundraiser

“This is a really good time for us to [lessen our load] and not have to go through the rigors of as many [MLS] matches as we have,” said Union manager John Hackworth during his weekly press conference Tuesday.

This game will probably be another chance for the Union (6-5-4, 22 points in MLS) technical staff to give some players battling for playing time on the first team game minutes against a team that has always brought the heat.

Last season, the Union narrowly edged Reading, 3-2 despite controlling the pace of play for much of it. In 2011, both teams battled to a 1-1 draw in a sauna at Don Thomas Stadium that found Reading getting one back in the closing moments to preserve the draw.

These affairs have been known to get a bit physical, but in the same way little brothers get when they are trying to everything they can to not get pushed around by their bigger brother.

“I thought it was a very good game for both teams,” said Burke following the 2012 version of this annual summer friendly.  “Our guys got a little worked up and chippy during the run of play, but I think it’s only natural when these players are trying to impress the first team coaches [of the Union].

The Union will have little rest as this match precedes one next week that it seems has also become another annual trip for the Union.

On Wednesday, the club returns to action for fourth round U.S. Open Cup play against Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. (7 p.m.) – for the third straight season.

Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com