The game was a tale of two different halves for the New York Red Bulls U-23, who seemingly looked disjointed and could not string together any passes in the attacking third for the entire first half even after Reading United AC took the lead.
Head Coach Simon Nee must have said something during the break, along with making two changes to the line-up, that ignited the team to come out hot and take the lead 2-1.
However, the away side was up for it; responding with two unanswered goals and leaving New Jersey with all three points.
Red Bulls goalkeeper Marcelin Gohier was put to the test early and often throughout the first half, frustrating the away side knowing they could have been up by one or two goals had it not been for this saves.
Nee was forced to call upon his bench earlier than usual, as defender Jonah Conway received a knock after a tackle and could not continue. Chris Tiao replaced him in the back four.
With five minutes to go until half-time, Reading finally broke the deadlock deservingly scoring off a header from a set piece corner kick from the former Red Bulls U-23 defender, Adrien Awana. They had been dangerous all half and were relentless in getting the game’s first goal.
The Red Bulls were in desperate need of a change to get more on the ball and more chances on goal. Head Coach Nee brought on Omar Sowe and Vince Borden for JP Marin and Ryan Mingachos to try and get his team back in the game.
Right away, the team brought the energy and the fight they lacked in the first 45 and it paid off right away. Captain Brian Saramago tied up the game with a header off a John Murphy corner – identical to how Reading scored their goal. Two minutes later, Barry Sharifi, with time and space at the top of the box, hit a powerful shot to the lower left corner of the goal, putting the Red Bulls in the lead for the first time on the night.
The Boys in White kept that momentum and did not allow Reading in their own half of the field. Though Reading was a tough opponent, playing against the ball until they regained the momentum in the 66th minute. Reading forward Maxi Galizzi was put in alone on goal after a defense-splitting ball and hit a cheeky ball, chipping Gohier to tie the game 2-2.
Reading then scored their third and game-winning goal the same way they scored their first goal – a set-piece header – this time coming from a free kick outside the 18. Recently inserted Kalil ElMedkhar, had just come off the bench, to run onto the header and score past Gohier to regain the lead and take the 3-points back to Philly.
This was the first home loss to Reading as the Red Bulls held a 2-0-2 home record against them.
Man of the Match
Reading United’s defense held the Red Bulls’ attackers at bay for most of the match, besides the two goals allowed. But it was the former Red Bull Adrien Awana that came back to haunt them, scoring the game’s first goal and helping to keep his defense organized.
The Baby Bulls will play their third game in eight days, this time playing their first road game of the young season at Fairleigh Dickinson University against Cedar Stars Rush on Saturday May 25 at 7:30 PM EST.