Reading United AC and the Atlanta Silverbacks square off in a FIrst Round match in the 2016 US Open Cup. Photo: Reading United AC (PennImages.com)
The US Open Cup tends to catch many amateur teams at the wrong time, with the First Round usually also serving as the first competitive game for those teams.
Such was the case on Wednesday in West Lawn, Pa., Reading United of the Premier Development League (PDL) hosted the Atlanta Silverbacks of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in the first game of the season for both sides.
It ended up being Reading that was the more prepared team, winning 2-0 in a comfortable fashion to advance to the Second Round. For United, it was the fifth straight year that the PDL club had won its opening round game, the second-longest streak among amateur teams in the Modern Era (1995-present).
After an even first 15 minutes, United began to assert control of the game. Both teams struggled to earn clear chances, but much of the game was being played in the Silverbacks end. This sustained period of dominance culminated in a 31st minute goal for Reading.
William Picoux hit an in-swinging corner kick that bypassed all but one player in the box. That player was his teammate Khori Bennett, who kicked it into the bottom left corner of the net from two yards out. Bennett, a soon-to-be sophomore at Northeastern, made no mistake on the easy chance.
Atlanta, which formerly was the development team of the now-defunct pro team, put much more pressure on Reading in the second half. Two early substitutions and a focus on offense led to some Silverbacks chances. The away side was forced to make an early third substitution when Kemar Brown went down with an injury in the 66th minute.
The Silverbacks could not capitalize on their sustained pressure, however, and Reading grabbed an insurance goal in the 86th minute.
Ismael Noumansana of Lenoir-Rhyne University shot in a laser of a cross that found Frantzdy Pierrot of Coastal Carolina on the back post. Pierrot bypassed the Atlanta goalie and slotted the ball into the net.
Reading United, which is making a Modern Era record eighth straight US Open Cup appearance as an amateur side, will travel to Tennessee to take on Chattanooga FC of the NPSL at 7:30 p.m. on May 18 in the Second Round.