Reading United AC has been thrust into the spotlight since defeating the New York Cosmos in the Second Round of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, but winning important games and earning multiple titles is nothing new to the Mid Atlantic Division juggernaut.
The club, which joined the Premier Development League in 2004, has helped numerous talented players make their way to the professional level, including 2016 Major League Soccer Defender of the Year Matt Hedges and Philadelphia Union talent Keegan Rosenberry.
Reading United has won four division titles and two Eastern Conference titles, reaching the PDL Semifinals in 2008 and 2010. Before its win against the Cosmos, the Pennsylvania-based club defeated a professional team in the U.S. Open Cup in 2013 – a 1-0 win against the United Soccer League’s Harrisburg City Islanders. Yet, the 3-2 victory against the Cosmos was one of the most significant achievements in the team’s history under President and General Manager Art Auchenbach.
“I would have to say the upset against the New York Cosmos Wednesday is one of my best memories with Reading United,” Auchenbach told USLPDL.com. “Another great memory is also an Open Cup memory traveling to Red Bull Arena in 2012, where we faced a strong Red Bull side. It was a great fan experience but also a great player experience because many of the guys on that team realized what it took to play at the MLS level.
“Others would have to be our 2010 team. I would take that team against most any MLS team now. We were loaded.”
Among the notable players on that 2010 roster include Houston Dynamo forward Andrew Wenger, North Carolina FC forward Billy Schuler, Union forward C.J. Sapong and defender Ray Gaddis, Real Salt Lake midfielder Luke Mulholland, Pittsburgh Riverhounds forward Corey Hertzo, current Reading Head Coach Stephen Hogan and FC Dallas defender Hedges.
Photo courtesy of Reading United AC / Starting lineup vs. New York Cosmos
Reading United continues to bring in talented players year after year, as San Jose Earthquakes and Reno 1868 FC midfielder Lindo Mfeka, Bethlehem Steel FC defender Charlie Reymann and Rochester Rhinos forward Rayane Boukemia are all competing professionally after playing for the club in 2016.
A major factor in the success of the club can be credited to its partnership with the Union. The affiliation debuted in 2010 – two years after Auchenbach joined the club as an owner – and both sides have seen returns ever since.
“At the time, our partnership was one of the few MLS-PDL partnerships,” Auchenbach said. “We’d like to think that we were innovators in utilizing the PDL platform to garner exposure for players. Of course, the partnership greatly assisted in our player recruitment strategies. It has helped our players raise their profiles, as evidenced by the many players who have been part of the Union organization.”
That partnership has evolved over the years, and it has not only been a benefit for the players who make their way through Reading.
“What started out as simply a partnership in branding and promotion quickly has escalated into true development for players and coaches,” Auchenbach said. “More recently, we have been fortunate beneficiaries of former Union Academy players calling Reading home. The PDL is a perfect way for former USSDA players to maintain form and prepare for college and professional careers. While we have had numerous player success stories from the Union partnership, I am equally proud of the coaching success we’ve had.
“Most people don’t realize current head coach Jim Curtin also featured as our Super-20 coach for a season. Brendan Burke was our most successful PDL coach and that success was recognized by the Union who brought him on as an assistant coach. A few years later and now Brendan is the Bethlehem Steel FC coach, and another of our former players, Steve Hogan, is an assistant coach in the Union organization and our Head Coach. Current assistant coach, Alan McCann, also played for the club. Current benefits to Reading United continue to be quality coaching, exceptional player pool for recruiting and opportunities for training with our players with the Union and Steel teams.”
Reading United has assembled a strong roster for the 2017 season, and the team has already shown what its capable of by defeating the Cosmos. Syracuse University standouts Mo Adams and Hugo Delhommelle are among the many talented players at the club’s disposal this year. While the 2016 Mid Atlantic Division winner will play the Islanders in the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, the team will host FA Euro New York on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, Watch Live).
“We have been blessed to have active ownership of Troy Snyder, Dr. Jeffrey Hill, George Gadebusch, Denise Strohmayr, who – in addition to their jobs – will put in many hours to help our organization,” Auchenbach said. “We have countless volunteers, interns and soccer families – including my own – who make the commitment each summer to help our program and provide a great environment to our PDL players. People like our 2017 staff including (Colin Kent, Ryan Lineaweaver, Sean Doyle, Jeff Blankenbiller, Candace Hall, Laurel Frymoyer, Amy Auchenbach, John Cusatis, Alan Peglar, David Musante, Chris and Missi Miller and countless others donate their time and energy to helping us be better every game, every season.
“You cannot have any success without the team behind the team.”