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New York Red Bulls U23s take down Reading United

Adam Najem lifts the Baby Bulls on the road.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls U23s are in the middle of a tight playoff race and took home a much needed 2-0 win against Reading United at Don Thomas Stadium in Exeter, Pennsylvania. Adam Najem (Red Bulls Academy/Akron) led the way with a goal and an assist.

The Baby Bulls were outplayed during the first 45 minutes, but goalkeeper Evan Louro (Red Bulls Academy/Michigan) made some key saves to keep the match a scoreless tie heading into halftime. The match opened up in the second half when Najem bodied a Reading defender off the ball in the 50th minute and Reading stopped playing expecting to hear a whistle. However, the referee waved play on and Najem bent the ball around the keeper. Four minutes later, Najem crossed the ball in to Brian White (PDA/Duke) who calmly finished for the necessary insurance goal.

The Red Bulls continued to press for the rest of the match and Reading came close on two close range headers, but the match ended 2-0.

Reading held the advantage on shots, 8-4. Louro made five saves in the win. Ethan Lochner -- Red Bulls U18s and New York Red Bulls II -- made his first appearance of the season for the U23s.

The Baby Bulls have two matches remaining this season: Wednesday, July 15th against the division leading Jersey Express (who took down New York Red Bulls II in the Open Cup) and Saturday, July 18th against the second-to-last place Westchester Flames. They'll qualify for the playoffs with six points in their final two matches and will almost certainly qualify with four points. However, if they plan on qualifying for the playoffs and winning the national championship, the Baby Bulls possibly don't have the luxury of losing another match for the rest of the season. But this is a talented team, they're up to the task.

Here are the current standings for the Mid Atlantic Division. The top three teams make the playoffs.

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Starting lineup: Evan Louro, Chris Thorsheim, Timothy Schmoll, Scott Thomsen, Kevin Politz, Steven Echevarria, Michael Innocenzi, Adam Najem, Joseph Swenson, Brian White, Zach Knudson

Substitutes: Billy Stevens, Joe Farrell, Rhys Williams, Sean Sheridan, Ethan Lochner

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Zach Knudson (PDA/NC State) was named to the Honorable Mention for the Premier Development Team of the Week for week 10. One has to think Adam Najem will be on the Team of the Week after his performance against Reading United.