Players from Reading United celebratea goal scored against Philadelphia Lone Star in the First Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Matt Ralph | Brotherly Game
Reading United is into the Second Round for the eighth consecutive year after staving off a late Philadelphia Lone Star surge that included a controversial offside call that went in the home team’s favor.
The Philadelphia Union USL League Two affiliate opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Union Academy grad and Penn State forward Jeremy Rafanello was able to blast home a shot past goalkeeper Vinny Tasca.
Photo: Matt Ralph | Brotherly Game
“I pretty much had the ball at midfield and I passed it off to Felipe [Hideki], he dribbled through and got a little touch and the Lone Star guy got a little touch and it came off to me and I decided to hit it one time,” said Rafanello, who made his US Open Cup debut in the match. “It felt good.”
Rafanello would register a brace and give Reading a 2-0 lead two minutes later when he converted from the spot following a penalty Hideki was able to earn with another run into the box.
After dominating in the first half, Reading had a letdown in the second half, allowing Lone Star to push further up the field and get back into the match when Shawn Genus was able to tap home a rebound off a shot from Deron Joe. The goal was with the run of play as Lone Star found it easier to put their stamp on the game than they did in the first half.
Union Academy grad Marco Bla nearly found an equalizer for Lone Star when he sent a looping shot in that Tor Erick Larsen had to tip over.
Controversy struck after the ensuing corner when it appeared as though Anthony Allison had tied the game up with a goal off the corner kick. The celebration that erupted among the traveling Lone Star fans who made the trip and on the field was abruptly halted by the offside flag. Replays show that it appeared as though Allison was onside on the play.
“I don’t know if it was offside or not, I couldn’t see, but if it wasn’t that’s unlucky for them,” Reading United head coach Alan McCann said. “That’s not a good way to go out. I said to their coach they deserve better.”
The Philadelphia Lone Stars had an equalizer ruled offside in their First Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup. This screen shot shows the play that was ruled offside.
Larsen was the far less active of the two keepers on the night. Tasca was forced into some spectacular saves, including one early on an Aaron Molloy free kick and another on Rafanello’s hat trick bid early in the second half. Reading’s offense took a blow when Union Academy grad Kalil ElMedkhar went down late in the first half with a shoulder injury and they never fully recovered from his absence in the lineup.
The second round has become a familiar destination for Reading United early in their season with them making it out of the first round each of the past eight years, which is a Modern Era record among all Open Division clubs. The streak is the fourth-longest streak of any club.
The loss for Lone Star was their second in the first round of the competition after falling to Ocean City Nor’easters (USL League Two) in the first round in 2017.
“They fought hard, it was a hard game,” Lone Star head coach Fatoma Toray said. “First half we didn’t play so well but second half we came in and were on the front foot. I’m proud of my boys.”