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First Team Completes Home-stand vs. Lehigh Valley

BROOKLYN, NY – The club’s first team (1-3-4, 7 points) wrap up their four-game homestand against the Lehigh Valley United (4-3-1, 13 points) on Saturday, June 15 at Poly Prep Country Day School. The contest is slated to kick-off at 8:30 p.m. The first team is in dire need of a victory, as they have gone 0-3-4 in their previous seven. The most recent contest saw the first team fall to the Reading United by a score of one nil. A suspension for defender Kyle Parrish and injury to backup keeper Andrew Pereira, has head coach Joe Balsamo digging deep into the club’s pipeline of talent to fill in. For the Lehigh Valley United, resurgence on the standings sheet has been noticed by many, as a one nil victory over the Evergreen Hammers on Sunday in Allentown, has gotten Andy Adlard’s club within six points of their PA rival. They also sit in second-place in the Mid-Atlantic Division as of Friday evening.


The club’s first team leads the series 4-0-0 dating back to 2017. Since the divisional shakeup following the 2016 season, Lehigh Valley has not earned a point against the first team. The most recent contest against the pair of clubs included the first draw between the two. The first goal, scored by Eddy Enowbi and assisted by Michael Tahiru occurred on a header just in front of Babacarr Ceesay at the 3’ minute mark of the contest. The first team responded with a Conor McGlynn goal from 40 yards out to knot the match at one. The goal was assisted by forward Filippo Tamburini. A season ago, former first-teamers in Sergei Bulatov and Dominique Marvens scored the pair of goals in the team’s third victory of the season at Aviator Sports and Event Center on July 7, 2018. This was the final victory for the first team on the humid July evening. The previous contest was also a two nil shutout victory for the first team as they notched their first victory of the season in their Cedar Crest College debut. Cheick Karembega and Adam Marcu were the pair of goal-scorers in the first outing.


The Lehigh Valley United are led by Lehigh University’s own Steven Bednarsky. The New Jersey native leads the way with a pair of goals through four games this season. Fifth year graduate student from Lehigh, Alexander Greene, has one goal and three shots through four. They are led up front by Shippensburg striker Cole Kropnick, who also has one goal on two shots this season. During the 2019 MLS Superdraft, former defender Franky Martinez was selected in the third round (69th overall to Kansas City Sporting SC). Most recently for the United, a one nil shutout victory over the Evergreen Hammers has propelled Lehigh Valley into second place in the Mid-Atlantic Division, just six points behind their Pennsylvania rivals, Reading United AC. The one goal came from Cole Kropnick at the 63’ minute of action. Following a pair of losses to begin the 2019 campaign, Lehigh Valley is 4-1-1 since May 25 against the aforementioned Evergreen Hammers.


Defender Kalley Muntaha remains week-to-week with a hamstring injury. He injured the lower-body against the Ocean City Nor’easters on May 18 in Brooklyn. Goalkeeper Babucarr Ceesay left the Lehigh Valley contest on June 1 with a lower-body injury. The Bryant and Stratton goalkeeper has not played since. Ceesay’s status is unknown, and will be reevaluated at practice prior to the game on Saturday. Midfielder Thriston Briscoe is still out with an ankle injury that was suffered on May 25 at the aforementioned Reading United AC. Forward DeAndre Gordon remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury, suffered against the Red Bull on Saturday. Goalkeeper Andrew Pereira suffered a right-leg injury in the contest also on Saturday vs. Red Bulls. The NYIT product was slated to start the contest vs. Reading but pulled himself out due to the aforementioned injury. Giovanni Gallina remains the lone healthy goalkeeper on the USL roster.


Beginning the match with uncertainty for one player in particular, NYIT goalkeeper Andrew Pereira was scratched due to a lower-body injury. Enter Giovanni Gallina, who was called up due to the slew of keeper injuries that includes the likes of Juan Pablo Leal, Babacarr Ceesay, and Jason Belfon. Gallina, a 19-year old from Queens, made his 18-man roster debut on Saturday against the Red Bulls, but was not intending to see action just three days following his call-up. Possession for both clubs began immediately as the first team would apply pressure on the Reading defenders early. The same would work the opposite way within the first few minutes of action. A pair of shots from Conor McGlynn would round out the first 10’ minutes for the first team. The opposite side of the field saw Jeremy Rafanello grab a shot off Davico, which just went wide of the net. This shot by the Reading forward was the first action seen from Gallina in USL League Two play. Fast forward to the 25’ minute of action to the point of Reading being awarded with three consecutive corner kicks in a span of 55 seconds, goalkeeper Giovanni Gallina cleared all three of those to force a goal-kick and out of the zone. Three minutes following the offensive attack from the United, forward Robi Sillah gets hit with a yellow-card caution. The caution becomes his second of the season, and one that results in a free-kick. Thankfully for Gallina, the mitts were wide open for the grab and clear. Offensive pressure for the first team became notable, as opposing keeper Jahmali Waite forces a pair of blocks and a save in the 34’ minute to keep both clubs at nil. A slew of shots from the Reading United forced a point of no return for the first team, as defenders Tomasso Davico and John Sabal, Jr, came up with saves before midfielder Joao Delgado sent one past the diving Gallina for the first and game winning goal of the match. Past contests have proven that the team does not give up, as substitutions made by head coach Joe Balsamo came up just short. One sub in particular in Nermin Buljubasic, came just centimeters shy of knotting the match at one in the four-minute stoppage time. In the 91’ minute of action, a turnover from Reading caused a chance from the former 2000 standout to have a wide-open shot. Goalkeeper Jahmali Waite would see the ball the entire way and shut the door on any comeback. One final push for Reading came just a minute after the Buljubasic shot on net, as Will Baynham saw an opportunity for his second goal against the first team but was turned away by Gallina to keep the contest within one. The victory for the Reading United secured their 25th consecutive win during the regular season, dating back to 2017. Aside from the roster players on Reading, the United were missing their leading scorer in Simon Becher, Khalil-El Medkhar, and Lamine Conte. Three players who have been listed on the USL Top 100 Watch List. Multiple yellow-cards were handed out, as Robi Sillah, Johan Mauritzson, Tomasso Davico, Conor McGlynn, and Mikail Radchenko were all issued one each. Defender Kyle Parrish was suspended against Reading due to a double-yellow, that resulted in a red-card ejection on Saturday, against the New York Red Bull.


The club’s first team hits the road for a three-game road swing beginning with the Long Island Rough Riders on Wednesday, June 19 for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff. The match is slated to take place at Hofstra University’s Soccer Stadium on the school’s campus.

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