PDL Game of the Week: Nor'easters, Reading United renew one of league's oldest rivalries (live video)
Ocean City and United square off in Reading for first time since last year's Eastern Conference title game
The Ocean City Nor’easters and Reading United AC will add another chapter to one of the oldest rivalries in modern American soccer on Friday night. Ocean City will travel north to take on United for the 43rd time in a rematch of last year’s PDL Eastern Conference championship game.
When these two teams meet it’s usually a local event between the clubs, but now, the rivalry goes national, as the PDL has declared it the league’s Game of the Week. The game will be streamed live on YouTube.
The Nor’easters are coming off a tough road loss to the New York Red Bulls Under-23s last Saturday night. In a game that saw Ocean City hit the post four times, the club’s leading scorer Ignacio Tellechea (West Virginia Tech / Madrid, Spain) scored the game’s only goal in a 3-1 loss. After three straight wins to start the 2017 campaign, it was the Nor’easters’ first loss. Despite the loss, the team remains tied for first place in the Mid-Atlantic Division.
For first-year head coach John Thompson, there was a lot to learn from the match.
“There are many positives to take from the Red Bull game in the second half and many negatives to learn from our first half performance,” Thompson said. “You have to experience those situations to grow and as a player make sure you adapt your game to cut out those mistakes.”
This season, Reading is currently 2-1-0 with six points, just three points behind Ocean City. They won last weekend at home with a 2-0 win over FA Euro New York. United will play the game on short rest as they hosted the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night. Reading lost the game 3-0.
The player to watch for Reading is Hugo Delhommelle, who leads the team with two goals and three assists. Delhommelle has an indirect connection to the Nor’easters. Delhommelle began his college career at Lander University (Greenwood, S.C.) in 2015. That year, the program had just hired a new up-and-coming young coach by the name of Lee Squires, who played for Ocean City in 2008. Delhommelle recently transferred to Syracuse University.
The connections don’t stop there. Reading midfielder Jorge Guinovart played for the Nor’easters in 2015 and was named the team MVP. Also, Ocean City’s new Technical Director, Dave Castellanos was the head coach of Reading United from 2013-15.
Ocean City and Reading have been playing each other since 1997 when they were professional teams in the D-3 Pro League (now known as the USL). Ocean City leads the all-time series 19-16-7. Friday’s game marks the first of three meetings between the clubs this season.
Last season, Reading swept both regular season meetings, and hosted the Nor’easters in the Eastern Conference championship game. In the first-ever postseason meeting between the two clubs, Ocean City won by the score of 4-1 to earn a spot in the PDL final four. The win was the Nor’easters’ first at Reading in 10 years.
“We have been playing a lot this week, moving the ball at a good tempo, we didn’t have much possession in the first half against the Red Bulls,” said Thompson. “It took us going two goals behind again before we went through the gears, so we have been stressing possession and getting on the ball in training.”
The game is scheduled to kick off on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Fans who are unable to make the trip to Don Thomas Stadium in Reading, Pa., can watch the game online through the PDL’s Game of the Week live video stream.