Reading claims first PDL Mid-Atlantic Division Title since 2010 with win over Jersey Express
With an opportunity to not only clinch a spot in the PDL playoffs, but take the division title tonight in New Jersey, Reading United left no doubt in a 4-0 victory over Jersey Express. Four different scorers found the back of the net for Reading, as United claimed their ninth appearance in the PDL playoffs in ten years.
Reading's three game winning streak to push them towards the division crown has been a revelation for a team that has bookended their season with tremendous play on the offensive and defensive ends. United have outscored their opponents 15-1 over their past three games to finish what they started, after an early five game unbeaten streak pushed them to the top of the Mid-Atlantic standings.
Ismael Noumansana started the scoring for Reading in the 35th minute. A lofted corner from the far sideline found the top of defender Kai Fernandes' head, and skimmed across the box to a waiting Noumansana. A one-timed laser from the Frenchman at the top of the box flew past a helpless keeper for a 1-0 advantage that stuck going into halftime. All three of Noumansana's goals have come in the past two games.
Reading struck early in the second half to double their advantage. Jelani Pieters mirrored his first goal of the season against Jersey Express, cutting across the box to his left, and placing a well struck ball into the left corner.
The 47th minute goal was more than enough to put away a Jersey Express team that has struggled to find the net all night, forcing Reading backstop Steffen Kraus to make only two saves. The shutout was United's fifth of the season.
Pieters contributed again in the 67th minute, feeding a through ball to Frantzdy Pierrot, who slotted home his fourth goal in three games. The Coastal Carolina and Northeastern product nearly netted more goals on the evening, but some diving stops from Jersey keeper Brandon Barnes were required to stifle the red hot forward.
Newcomer Aaron Malloy put an exclamation point at the end of the game, with a goal in the 89th minute off a feed from Gilbert Waso.
The division title is Reading's first since 2010.
The 2010 squad included current MLS players Ray Gaddis (Philadelphia Union), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Luke Mulholland (Real Salt Lake), CJ Sapong (Philadelphia Union), and Andrew Wenger (Houston Dynamo). Seven other players from that PDL Final Four team are still playing professionally at the USL and NASL level.
Coincidentally, it was also Head Coach Stephen Hogan's last year playing in a Reading United uniform.
“It's unbelievable. To win the division title again after six years, it's obviously amazing. That's where the program is, and that's where the program should be,” said Hogan.
The loss was the first at home for Jersey Express, who had been 4-0-1 at their friendly confines. All but three of the 16 points they've tallied this season have come away from New Jersey.