Philadelphia Union defeated USL-PDL affiliate partner Reading United A.C., 2-0 Friday night at Don Thomas Stadium behind first-half goals from Aaron Wheeler and Antoine Hoppenot in the annual friendly match played between the two sides.
“This relationship with Reading is much more important than [getting the win],” said Team Manager John Hackworth after the match. “They have a great program here. Some of the best college kids in the country come here every summer. I think it’s a great opportunity to get some of our guys that haven’t seen a lot of time this year a chance to play, and that’s what I tried to express to the players, that this is a huge opportunity.”
The starting lineup demonstrated the benefits of the relationship between the affiliate clubs, as two former Reading United products, Leo Fernandes and Aaron Wheeler, started for the Union and played the full 90 minutes.
Wheeler opened up the scoring in the 30th minute as he got on the end of a blistering cross from Chris Albright to put one past goalkeeper John McCarthy. Albright collected a corner kick from Michael Farfan and fired a ball into the box that found Wheeler’s head, putting the Union in front with his first career goal for Philadelphia.
“It felt really good, really familiar to be back here and find the back of the net at Exeter,” said Wheeler. “It took me back to my PDL days and it’s great to continue seeing this program develop and be a top contender every year.”
Just minutes later, the Union added a second goal as Antoine Hoppenot scored on an assist from Jimmy McLaughlin in the 35th minute. McLaughlin beat his man after rookie Don Anding fed the midfielder a pass over top of the defense, and Hoppenot volleyed the ensuing pass in the net to double the score.
“I was impressed by our team,” said Hackworth. “I thought our mentality was right from the start, and that led to us playing some good soccer, creating some good chances and eventually scoring two goals.”
Brendan Burke, Reading United’s head coach and an assistant coach for Philadelphia Union, swapped out all starters in the field by halftime. United was able to create several opportunities to score in the second half, but were unable to get past Union goalkeeper Chris Konopka, who posted the shutout.
The match was also Kicks Against Cancer Night at Don Thomas Stadium, as players from both teams had game-worn jersey auctioned off to fans, with all proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society and the Jolee Boarder Foundation.
The Philadelphia Union are back in action Wednesday, June 12 as they travel to the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth round matchup against D.C. United.
Philadelphia Union 2, Reading United 0
Saturday, June 7; 7:00 p.m. ET
Don Thomas Stadium, Reading, Pa.
PHI: Wheeler 30’ (Albright)
PHI: Hoppenot 35’ (McLaughlin)
PHI: Kassel 26’ (caution)
PHI: Hernandez 59’ (caution)
UNION STARTING 11
Konopka, Anding, Albright, Kassel, McLaughlin, Farfan, Fernandes, Torres, Hernandez, Hoppenot, Wheeler.
READING UNITED STARTING 11
McCarthy, Sweat (Campbell 45’), Ockford (Slogic 45’), Lowe (Sanchez 8’), Charpie (Marini 45’), Snoh (Alashe 27’), Dacres (Plumhoff 6’), Neumann (Docezal 45’), Rosenberry (Madison 45’), Pinto (Baker 7’ [Pimentel 72’]), Ndjock (Salandy-Defour 45’ [Follensbee 72])