Khori Bennett (#22) celebrates his goal in the 2016 season opener at Lehigh Valley United. (Photo Credit: Dave Musante/Penn Images)
READING, PA (May 12, 2017) – Reading United A.C. open their 22nd season on Saturday, May 13th when they host local rivals Lehigh Valley United at Exeter High School’s Don Thomas Stadium in the 2017 Premier Development League opener. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm. It will be Reading’s 14th season in the PDL, the 72 team league that is considered the top men’s amateur soccer competition in the United States.
Reading enter the season as the defending Mid-Atlantic Division champions after claiming the division title in 2016 for the first time since 2010. In his first season in charge, Stephen Hogan guided the squad to a 10-1-3 record and reached the Eastern Conference Championship match.
Hogan has a strong nucleus of returning players, led by 2016 standouts Ben Beaury, Frantzdy Pierrot, Paul Marie and Hugo Delhommelle, that are motivated to lead Reading on another deep run in the PDL playoffs. Coach Hogan and his staff have also recruited an impressive crop of new players highlighted by midfielders Marco Micoletto and Jorge Guinovart, as well as Panamanian Under-20 National Team defender Emmanuel Chanis.
Befitting the budding rivalry, Reading and Lehigh Valley played three closely contested matches last season. Reading United upended Lehigh Valley in the season opener at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium. Khori Bennett scored for Reading in the first minute of the match while the United defense held Lehigh Valley off the scoreboard earning Reading a 1-0 win. Lehigh Valley United flipped the script in a mid-season tilt in Reading. Lochlan McLean’s 25th minute goal was all Lehigh Valley United needed to top Reading to earn a 1-0 road win. In the regular season finale, Jelani Pieters scored for Reading just before halftime to secure United’s tenth win of the season in a 1-0 victory over their local rivals. Reading United lead the all-time series 3-1-1.
In Reading’s first action of 2017, Frantzdy Pierrot’s goal in first half stoppage was all United needed to claim a 1-0 win over the visiting Clarkstown SC in U.S. Open Cup First Round play. Ben Beaury marshaled the defense well to keep his first clean sheet of 2017.