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Fans’ view: The Reading-Philly connection

Photo courtesy of Glenn Riegel/Reading United

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our series of fan posts continues with a look at the Reading—Philadelphia sports connection ahead of Saturday’s friendly between Reading United and the Philadelphia Union from Berks County-based Steven Turner.

Being a sports fan in Berks County, PA is a privilege I am happy to have. I am a Union season ticket holder, and the one hour and 15-minute drive it takes me to get to PPL Park is a minor sacrifice to see the highest level of professional soccer the United States has to offer, not to mention enjoy the beautiful atmosphere that is a Union home game.

Reading is also within easy driving distance of the South Philly sports complex and Phillies, Sixers, Eagles and Flyers games. Locally, the sports teams have a rich tradition of success, not just at the gates but also on the field/court/rink. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels and Freddy Galvis all played at the Reading Phillies’ First Energy Stadium at one point, but the list of Major Leaguers that have taken the field in Reading includes several other Hall of Famers and MVPs. Jonathan Quick, who is currently minding the net for the LA Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals, was between the pipes for the ECHLʼs Reading Royals in 2007 and actually scored an empty net goal for them on October 27th, 2007.

But the one team that doesn’t get a lot of publicity, much like the sport they play, is Reading United AC.

Reading United fans have been spoiled the past four years. If you made a list of former players who currently ply their trade in Major League Soccer, it would include C.J. Sapong, Matt Hedges, Andrew Wenger, Zarek Valentin and Raymon Gaddis, among others. The team has appeared in four straight U.S. Open Cup tournaments, which ties an amateur record. They reached the second round of the tournament for the first time ever in 2012 after losing in the first round to Harrisburg 2-1 in 2011 despite leading late and bowing out in extra time to Real Maryland back in 2010. From 2008 through 2010, the team won the Mid-Atlantic division of the PDL Eastern Conference, twice appearing in the National Semifinals. In 2011, they finished second in the Mid-Atlantic division, and they are currently unbeaten and in first place in 2012.

In 2010, the Philadelphia Union made them their official PDL affiliate, a partnership that includes an annual friendly, another sporting event soccer fans in Berks County can enjoy close to home.

While they may only draw between 300 and 500 fans for league games, the atmosphere is lively, and the crowd is knowledgeable. 2011 saw the creation of an official supportersʼ group, the LOCOs.

On Saturday, Philadelphia Union will make the hour-long drive up I-76 to take on the Reading United in their annual friendly. The game promises to be exciting, and if you get a chance to check out Reading United in person, it’’s worth the trip. If history is any indication, there will be three or four future MLS players on the field for Reading, and you’ll be watching one of the most successful PDL teams of the past five years.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Fans’ view: The Reading-Philly connection | Local Philadelphia News Aggregator

  2. LOVE this article! Great writing, very knowledgeable author! Would love to see more from him! Go Union and RU!

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