As far as homecomings go, today was a pretty quiet one for C.J. Sapong, Ray Gaddis, Andrew Wenger and John McCarthy. But in the end, it was McCarthy keeping a clean sheet and earning the win, and Wenger scoring the game’s lone goal in a 1-0 win for the Union.
They went into the game against Reading with the same starting lineup as they had against NYCFC with the exception of McCarthy in goal in place of Brian Sylvestre. But head coach Jim Curtin made numerous substitutions, including getting some previously injured players some run.
The game was uneventful for the first 15 minutes with the Union playing the ball around, more focused on getting into the flow of the game after two days off than attacking with any real ferocity.
Eventually both sides started to get chances, with Sapong getting two or three good looks on headed shots that went just wide of the goal. The Union defense went largely untested with the starters in, only being threatened when the ball got lost in the box.
The first really clean look for the Union came in the 23rd minute when Cristian Maidana got set free on goal after Brian Carroll played a beautiful through ball into him on the left. Even though the Reading goalkeeper saved it, it was a good sign for the Union.
The starters were then subbed off in the 32nd minute in a mass substitution that saw Eric Ayuk, Zach Pfeffer, Jimmy McLaughlin, Ray Gaddis, Raymond Lee, Fred and Eric Bird all come onto the field.
The game continued to be played without a sense of urgency, something that is common in a friendly. The game was scoreless at the half, with both teams getting a few good chances but not much else.
The Union made a substitution during half-time, with Sheanon Williams coming off for Steven Vitoria. This was Vitoria’s first game action since he was injured in the middle of April.
Four minutes after Vitoria made his way onto the field, the Union broke the seal and scored what would be the game’s only goal. Pfeffer placed a 30-yard free kick onto Vitoria’s head at the back post where the Reading keeper was forced to make a reflex save. He deflected he ball into the air and Wenger was able to pounce on it and volleyed the ball into the back of the net.
The Union made one more substitution in the 71st minute, with Antoine Hoppenot coming on for Wenger. After the Hoppenot substitution the game slowly deteriorated until both teams were too tired to make many chances.
The game was a good showcase for McCarthy, who hasn’t played in a game since he got a concussion in practice following the game against Toronto FC. He wasn’t forced to make any saves but was very vocal and showed off his athleticism by sprinting out 35 yards to beat a Reading United player to a ball, clearing it in the process.
After the game, McCarthy and the other former Reading United players took time to take pictures, sign autographs, and chat with old friends.
“I mean I’m happy to be back, for myself and a couple of the other guys who played here,” McCarthy said. “We’re happy to be back to see a team that we once played for and to see a great group of guys and to see how the team is coming along. It was good night, both teams showed well, and I’m just happy to see everyone and the community of Reading once again.”