Philadelphia Union PDL affiliate, Reading United AC, play for the national championship tonight

Reading United AC celebrate the loan goal in the PDL Semifinal match.

Reading United AC are the Philadelphia Union’s Professional Development League (PDL) affiliate. After an undefeated 2018 regular season, and a playoff run, they have made it to the PDL National Championship Game. Reading United AC take on Calgary Foothills FC tonight at 7 PM at Gurski Stadium Reading United’s home field.

Kieran Roberts (center) of Reading United AC celebrate’s the loan goal in extra time of the PDL Semifinal match. Mandatory Credit: Penn Images.

Reading United have had a truly amazing 2018. They have not lost a match in league play, and made it to the third round of the US Open Cup where they lost their only match of 2018 vs USL’s Richmond Kickers. This team is scary good, and have a good chance at winning the championship in front of their home fans tonight. Before we look at the match, let’s look at how PDL works, and how Reading United’s 2018 campaign played out.

Professional Development League:

The Professional Development League is a subsection of the United Soccer League (USL). PDL consists of mainly college players, and young prospects. PDL’s league consists of 74 teams spread across four different conferences (Eastern conference-20 teams, Central conference-12 teams, Southern conference 22 teams, Western conference 20 teams).

Each team plays 14 games to determine seeding for the PDL playoffs. In each conference there are either 3 divisions (Eastern, Southern and Western conference’s), or 2 divisions (Central conference). In the conference’s with three divisions, the division winner plus the highest finishing second place team in each conference qualify for the conference playoffs. The Central conference the teams that finish in the top two spots in both divisions make it to the conference playoffs.

The four teams in each conference playoffs play a semifinal and a final to determine who make it to the national semifinals, and eventually the National Championship.

The PDL conference semifinal, and final format, as shown by the 2018 Eastern conference semifinals and final matchups.

The conference champions then advance to the PDL National semifinals, and a chance at playing for the PDL National Championship

PDL National playoffs format, as shown by the 2018 PDL National semifinals, and National Championship matchups.

Now that we all understand how PDL works, let’s take a look at the incredible 2018 campaign of Reading United AC.

Reading United AC’s 2018 campaign:

Regular season:

Reading United AC have proven to be a great team throughout their 2018 season. Early in their season they tallied three 2-0 wins. Their clean-sheet through the month of May set the tone for the rest of their season.

They only tied one of their eight games in June, the other seven were wins. In what was their busiest month Reading United AC tallied a brilliant +16 goal ratio.

July saw the last four matches of the regular season. In these matches Reading United AC added three more wins and one more draw to their record. This gave them an overall record of 12-0-2. Their 38 points was enough to give them the top seed in the Eastern conference playoffs.

PDL Eastern Conference Playoffs:

In their Eastern conference semifinal, Reading United AC took on Mrtyle Beach Mutiny. Reading score first to give themselves a 1-0 lead after the first half. A crazy second half ensued, where Mrtle Beach and Reading scored three goals each. That first half goal proved very important as Reading United AC won 4-3 to advance to the Eastern Conference final.

In the Eastern conference final Reading met New York Red Bulls U-23 side that played well against the boys in blue during the regular season. This match was not similar to the regular season ties. Reading scored twice in the first half to take a commanding lead. Red Bulls U-23 tried to get back into the match in the second half, but could only find the back of the net once. Reading United AC were crowned Eastern conference champions and moved on to the PDL National playoffs as a result.

PDL National playoffs:

In a tough National semifinal agaisnt Southern conference champions The Villages SC, It took longer than usual for Reading to score. This was only their second time being held scoreless in 2018 ( their first being in a 0-0 tie against Red Bulls U-23 in the regular season). A tough gritty game moved its way to two 15 minute extra time periods. In the second 15 minutes Reading United found the loan goal of the match. As the final whistle sounded, Reading United AC knew they were on their way to the PDL National Championship game.

Their hard work, and determination was noticed in the week leading up to the championship.

Coaching and Player accolades:

Reading United AC coach Alan McCann was named PDL’s head coach of the year. With Reading’s great organization and record, it makes sense that McCann would win the award. When the coach get’s recognized as the best, the player’s of his/her team usually get recognized as well. That’s what happened with four Reading United players.

Khori Bennett, Kamal Miller, Aaron Molloy, and Bennet Strutz were all named to the PDL All-Eastern conference team. Kamal Miller and Bennet Strutz were instrumental in Reading United’s back line. Khori Bennett lead Reading in scoring with six goals on the season. Reading United AC Captain midfielder, Aaron Molloy’s strong play made him an obvious choice for All-Eastern conference team. Molloy has another accolade to his name this season.

Midfielder Aaron Molloy is listed as PDL’s number one prospect of the 2018 season. Last year’s 2017 young player of the year tallied four goals and was the team’s leader in assists with four. Molloy could be one to watch as he progresses, maybe he’ll be the next player to sign with Steel FC and work his way up to the first team! He will be an intricate part of Reading United’s play in tonight’s national championship!

PDL National Championship:

Reading United now find themselves in the National Championship game agaisnt Calgary Foothills FC. Calgary have only lost one match this entire season, which came back in June. Their strong finish to the season carried over to their playoff run. They have not conceded a goal throughout their Western conference playoff campaign, or in their National playoff semifinal.

Reading United will have to rely on head coach McCann’s tactic’s and game-plan off the field, while relying on their momentum form their undefeated season on the field. This one should be a fun watch! The game takes place tonight at Gurski Stadium, Reading United AC’s home field.

If you’re in/around the Reading area tickets are only $5! If you can’t make it out to the championship, but want to see the Philadelphia Union affiliate make history, you can stream the match from PDL’s website. Don’t miss out on this championship soccer!

We’ll have a full recap of the match later tonight on Philly Sports Network. Hopefully it’ll be one recapping how Reading United AC became PDL National Champions!

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Penn Images.