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Nor'easters renew USL's oldest active rivalry with Reading United tonight

51st all-time meeting features Ocean City head coach Alan McCann facing former club

Nor'easters renew USL's oldest active rivalry with Reading United tonight

The Ocean City Nor'easters and Reading United AC will renew the oldest active rivalry in all of the United Soccer Leagues on Wednesday night.

The two clubs have been playing each other since 1997 and their 51st all-time meeting will take place under the shadow of the ferris wheel, right off the boardwalk at Carey Stadium ("The Beach House") in Ocean City, N.J., America's Greatest Family Resort.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $10 each and can be purchased in advance on the Nor'easters website, and at the Carey Stadium gate with cash or with a smartphone. Soccer coaches of all levels and players from the South Jersey Elite Barons and New Jersey Surf all get in free.

The Nor'easters will be following the state's COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of everyone attending Wednesday's game and throughout the entire season. The state of New Jersey does not have a capacity limit for venues like Carey Stadium at this time, and fans are not required to wear masks in an outdoor setting, but anyone who is not vaccinated is encouraged to wear a mask in any indoor setting such as bathrooms. For more information on the New Jersey Department of Health's guidance, please click HERE.

For fans unable to make it out to the Beach House, the Nor'easters are partnering with BFA Productions to provide a live video stream of Wednesday's game, and all home games for the 2021 season. Local broadcast veteran Mike Frankel will handle the play-by-play duties. A link to the online broadcast will be posted on the Nor'easters social media accounts two hours before kickoff.

Wednesday's game will mark the first time that Nor'easters head coach Alan McCann will face his former club. McCann, in his first year with the Nor'easters, came to Ocean City after four years coaching Reading United. After two years as an assistant, McCann took over as Reading’s head coach in 2018 and led the club to a 28-3-5 overall record and back-to-back division and conference titles, while also reaching the USL League Two championship game in both seasons. Earning that level of success as a team playing in the Mid-Atlantic Division, arguably the toughest in the league, he was named the 2018 and 2019 USL League Two Coach of the Year.

McCann enters Wednesday's game undefeated in 30 of his 31 regular season games as head coach. His only loss as a USL League Two head coach was a 4-1 loss to the Nor'easters at the Beach House on July 7, 2019.

The Nor'easters enter Wednesday's matchup with a perfect 3-0-0 record and are tied for the league lead in scoring margin (+11). After back-to-back road shutouts (3-0 at Real Central New Jersey, 7-0 at Lehigh Valley United), the Storm won the club's fourth straight home opener on May 23 with a 2-1 win over West Chester United. Ocean City's hot offensive start has broken a club record for most goals scored in the first three games of a season.

Another positive to the Storm's offense in the early season has been the balanced attack. The 12 goals scored have been scored by eight different players. Simon Becher leads the team in scoring with three, which he scored in an historic performance against Lehigh Valley United on May 19. Becher made history three ways. He became the 12th Ocean City player (in the club's USL League Two history) to score a hat trick. Then, he became the first Nor'easters player to come off the bench and score a hat trick. Becher scored those goals in the 75th, 80th and 85th minutes, which is the fastest hat trick in club history. Cumberland University teammates Bakary Bagayoko and Tyler Watson have two goals each and no one else has more than one goal.

Theo Quartey has one of those goals, a fantastic game-winner in the Storm's 2-1 home win against first place West Chester United. Quartey also leads the team in assists with three.

The Storm enter Wednesday's match riding a 10-game home unbeaten streak, and a 10-game overall unbeaten streak, dating back to the 2019 season. A win or a draw would extend Ocean City's home unbeaten streak to 11 games, which would be the second-longest run in club history.

Reading joined the USL's D-3 Pro League in 1996, the year before Ocean City launched their franchise in the same league. United, like the Nor'easters are one of the most successful teams in league history. Reading enter Wednesday's game with 154 wins, 6th most in league history with Ocean City nipping at their heels in 7th place with 148.

Reading has struggled this season with a 1-3-0 record. To put it in perspective, United haven't lost more than three games in an entire season since 2007. They began the season with three straight losses (5-1 at Lehigh Valley United, 2-0 at West Chester United, 2-1 vs. Northern Virginia FC). They picked up their first win of the season last Friday with a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia Lone Star FC. Lyam McKinnon's goal in the 60th minute was the difference to snap the losing streak. 

Entering Wednesday's match, Reading leads the all-time series 22-21-7, so a win by the Nor'easters would even the series at 22 at piece.

By far, the biggest game in the rivalry came min 2016. After Reading swept both regular season meetings, the two met in the Eastern Conference championship game on United's home field. It was the first time the two long-time rivals had met in a playoff game and it was Ocean City that pervailed, winning 4-1 on the road.

In 2019, the two teams split the season series with the Nor'easters winning the 50th meeting at the Beach House, 4-1. Deri Corfe scored a hat trick that day which padded his USL League Two MVP resume on his way to sharing the league scoring title.

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