After being told just a few days before the match that they would be hosting their First Round Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match, Reading United faced Maryland Bays on Wednesday night. It didn’t take long for the USL PDL side to find the net in front of their home crowd at Exeter High School’s Don Thomas Stadium. United, who were making its seventh straight tournament appearance out of the Premier Development League, used that goal to hang on for a 1-0 win over the reigning USASA Region I Open Cup champions
In the 19th minute, after a few early scoring opportunities, Reading struck first. Brett Campbell poked home the eventual game-winner after receiving a pass from Neco Brett.
Playing with only one substitute, the Bays struggled to find many threating chances on net as Reading’s goalkeeper Kyle Morton showed zero rust in the PDL side’s first competitive game of 2015.
With the 1-0 victory, Reading United will host USL side and fellow Philadelphia Union affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders on May 20 at 7 p.m. This will be the third time the Union affiliates have faced off in US Open Cup play. In 2011 Harrisburg defeated Reading 2-1, while United upset the City Islanders 1-0 in 2013.
After the game Reading United head coach David Castellanos was proud of his side.
“A great goal by Brett Campbell and good build up all around. We’re going to take the positives away from the match, but we know we have a ton of work to do to get ready for Harrisburg,” said Castellanos. “There were pieces of good movement. Keegan Rosenberry did well and William Picoux came on in the second half and really moved that ball. Our backline played great. Kyle Morton in goal, he saved us.”
For United, a franchise that began its Open Cup history losing its first give games, have made history in recent years. This is the seventh year in a row that the club has qualified for the tournament, which a record for amateur teams in the Modern Era (1995-present). This game also marks the fourth year in a row that the club has won their opening match, which ties the Ventura County Fusion’s modern era record (2011-2014). The Fusion currently hold the record for longest unbeaten streak in consecutive tournament openers with five (2011-2015). The Chicago Fire PDL side won five straight opening round games, but not in consecutive seasons (2004-05, 2009, 2010, 2012).
The organization of the match was a challenge as the Maryland Bays had originally been awarded hosting rights. The opening game was scheduled to be played at Calvert Hall in Towson, Md. but the stadium was made unavailable due to safety concerns following the recent Baltimore riots. Scrambling to find a new venue, the Bays were able to find one at the University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC). After renting the field, they were informed on Thursday that the person who rented it to them had done so in error, because the venue was not available because the stadium was under construction.
With less than a week until the match, the Bays were in desperation mode but somehow managed to find a field at Troy Park in Elkridge, Md. The condition of the field was good, but the venue didn’t have locker rooms, which is one of the US Soccer Federation’s minimum standards. Less than 48 hours before the game, the federation decided that Reading United would host the game.