Union 1-0 Reading: Observations from Exeter
There was more to see than just the handful of Reading standouts, though, in the Union’s 1-0 friendly win at Don Thomas Stadium. A few observations from the game:
- We have an Andrew Wenger goal sighting. It took Reading’s third goalie of the night crashing into a defender as he tried to collect a header by Steven Vitoria off a free kick, but hey, Wenger kicked a ball into the back of the net and then the ref blew the whistle and the scoreboard changed. That should be a win for Wenger considering how his season has gone, plus there’s the added bonus of doing it against his former team. It goes without saying how badly the Union need him to get going.
- The Union started the same lineup as Saturday (with the exception of John McCarthy in for Bryan Sylvestre), which was essentially the same lineup as last Wednesday (minus CJ Sapong for Fernando Aristeguieta), which was the same lineup as the previous Saturday. For nine outfield players, that’s four starts in 11 days. Granted, most only played for 30 minutes or a half in a glorified practice session, plus it’s a bit of a reward for the 1,200 Reading fans that showed up, one of the biggest crowds for a friendly in the teams’ partnership that created a really great atmosphere.
- Only two players went 90 minutes Tuesday: Richie Marquez and McCarthy. Remember that McCarthy must be the Union’s goalie in next Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match with Rochester since Sylvestre is Cup-tied.
- Tuesday was the first match in a Union kit for rookie Eric Bird, who started the season injured. More on that in Thursday’s paper.
- The most notable participation for the Union was provided by Vitoria, who played the last half paired with Marquez in central defense. It’s the first time he’s played game minutes since April 25 due to a groin injury. With the form of Marquez, you wonder if he and Vitoria are paired with Maurice Edu able to return to the midfield. That’s a question for next week, it seems.
- Also returning from injury limbos to get minutes were Ray Gaddis (the last 60) and Antoine Hoppenot (the last 20).
- It’s hard to pinpoint standout performances against Reading, especially when both teams changed personnel every half hour. If there’s someone who stood out, it’s Jimmy McLaughlin. He played on the left wing for the last 60 minutes with Eric Ayuk on the right and Zach Pfeffer as the central attacking midfielder. You see momentary struggles as to why he’s not in the team – being occasionally soft on the ball or slow in tracking back. But you also see moments like the 72nd minute when he slalomed through several defenders in the box and hit a shot with the outside of his foot off the post. Or in the 68th when he stung a volley that forced a fine save from the Reading goalie. It’s a shame that the Union are going to look to the U.S. Open Cup to salvage their season, because McLaughlin is a guy who could use a shot from the start in a game like that with seven or so first-teamers around him to really see what he can do.