LOUISVILLE, KY (May 14, 2019) – After defeating NPSL-side Philadelphia Lone Star in the Open Cup First Round, Reading drew arguably the toughest draw of the Second Round, due to face two-time defending USL Champion Louisville City FC in Kentucky. The game time on Wednesday evening is set for 7:00pm at Lynn Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisville. The winner will play host to the victor of the Birmingham Legion and West Chester United match held on Tuesday night.
Coach Alan McCann isn’t having the team back away from a challenge, saying, "This is a step up. As with any team, we'll keep our identity and foundation. One or two little bits to change - same as any other game. You're not going to see us changing style, sitting in, and kicking the ball long. That's a disservice to our players, and doesn't let them play within their identities. It'd be a discredit to the players and team if we just kick it long. These players are looking for pro contracts.”
Reading comes into the matchup winning their first two games of the young season - one Open Cup and one league game. The first was a tense, physical matchup against Lone Star, that saw Reading put up two early goals, then hang on for a 2-1 victory. The second was a 5-2 victory on the road against Lehigh Valley United, where the squad lost a 2-0 lead before roaring back with three goals in the second half to clinch the victory.
Louisville finds themselves in a familiar position to begin the 2019 USL Championship season: near the top of the table. After finishing the 2017 season with an 18-6-8 record, then bettering that in 2018 at 19-6-9, Louisville sits fifth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 5-4-1, only four points outside of first. The Kentucky-based club is coming off of a 3-0 thumping of Birmingham Legion this past Saturday, where a 6th minute goal by Magnus Rasmussen was the game winner.
McCann continued, “It's the quality all around the field, and off the bench if they need it. It's the pressure they'll put on us early. The pressure of putting collegiate guys against professionals. They have a big arsenal and a lot of weapons. But these are the teams we want to be playing - this is shop window time for our players."
While Lynn Stadium may not be their home field, Louisville has had their share of success playing on the collegiate field. Last year’s USL Championship was won on those grounds, defeating Didier Drogba and Phoenix Rising FC 1-0. They also won all four U.S. Open Cup games hosted there in 2018, defeating Long Island Rough Riders, St. Louis FC, New England Revolution, and Nashville en route to a surprise quarterfinal appearance.
Reading has shown the ability to stretch professional squads to their limits in the Open Cup, as evidenced by the 2013 upset of Harrisburg City Islanders and 2017 surprise victory over the defending NASL Champion New York Cosmos. They’ve also taken Richmond Kickers to penalty kicks (2018), Rochester Rhinos to extra time (2014), and took a late lead against Charleston Battery (2012) before conceding two goals late.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams, but they do share a bit of history. Former Reading United players Brian Ownby (2011), Brian Holt (2011), and Ben Lundt (2017-18) are all donning the City purple this season. Ownby spent four games with Reading, scoring four goals as part of a Virginia-based attack early in the season that included fellow Cavaliers Will Bates and Brian “Cobi” Span. Holt has carved out a niche in the professional ranks since earning PDL All-Eastern Conference honors eight years ago, spending time as a backup keeper with Harrisburg City Islanders, Philadelphia Union, New York Cosmos, and Jacksonville Armada. Lundt played in six games over the past two seasons in Reading, allowing only three goals in net.