USL Match report

Match Report: Toronto FC II 0-1 Bethlehem Steel

Photo courtesy of Toronto FC II

Bethlehem Steel went north of the border Sunday and will return home with three points after an early penalty and stalwart defending carried them to a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC II.

Soccer fans in Toronto were treated to a rare doubleheader at BMO Field. Saturday afternoon saw MLS sides Toronto FC and Minnesota United square off, with the home side earning the victory. Bethlehem ensured it wouldn’t be all sunshine for the Ontarions during a wet and dreary day.

The game’s only goal came early.

In the 8th minute, Cory Burke collected the ball just inside Toronto’s half. The Jamaican international played a perfectly weighted pass to Marcus Epps, who made an incisive run and collected the pass down the right flank. With his man beaten, the winger raced into the box and was brought down by Toronto’s Mitchell Taintor. Referee Pierre-Luc Lauziere wasted no time in pointing to the spot.

Burke stepped up to take the penalty. As goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo dove to his right, the ball went to the left and found the back of the net. It was Burke’s first goal of the season.

Two minutes prior, the Steel had created the game’s opening chance. Captain James Chambers’ tackle started a counter, which saw Epps race down the right.  His pass found Burke in the box, whose low cross went just beyond the reach of Seku Conneh.

It highlighted the theme of the first half.

Bethlehem conceded possession but were quick to counter. The home side struggled to match the pace of Epps and Chris Nanco on the wings, who often found space behind the Toronto fullbacks.

Despite enjoying 57.5% of possession and putting four shots on frame, Toronto never looked  likely to score in the first half.

The second 45 minutes of play proved a different story.

After the break, Toronto took control of the game. It was during this span that they registered 15 of their 22 shots.

It became clear that Toronto was looking to exploit Bethlehem’s Matthew Real. The left back was making his first appearance for the Steel. The men in red consistently found space between him and Nanco, as Real’s positioning put more of onus on defense.

From these wide positions, Toronto sent in 35 crosses.

A good chance came Toronto’s way in the 52nd minute. Toronto gathered a loose ball in midfield before it found its way to forward Ben Spencer. Spencer played a lovely through ball to Luca Uccello, who found space behind Bethlehem’s back line. The Canadian took a touch before sending a stinging shot just over the bar.

The best chance for Toronto, however, came in the 86th minute. Midfielder Tsubasa Endoh played a wonderful ball over the top of the Steel defense to substitute Shaan Hundal. One-on-one with left back Matt Mahoney, who came on for an injured Real, Hundal cut inside and unleashed a left-footed shot destined for the far corner.

Bethlehem goalkeeper Jake McGuire then produced his best save of the year. At full stretch, McGuire leapt to his right. His acrobatics denied Hundal on what proved to be Toronto’s last real chance of the game.

The Steel almost added another tally in stoppage time. Burke started a counter down the left side, sending a pass to the feet of Conneh. The forward dribbled into the box before his near post attempt forced a save from Cavalluzzo.

With the victory, Bethlehem improved to 3-4-0. The Steel will complete their three game road trip when they travel to Cincinatti next Saturday.

Three points
  • A solid pair: Despite those 35 crosses, Toronto couldn’t produce real chances. This is largely because of the stellar play of center backs Mark McKenzie and Hugh Roberts.
  • McGuire’s record day: The goalkeeper set a career high with seven saves. While six were routine, the seventh will be a “save of the week” contender.
  • Offensively offensive: Toronto might be wondering what it feels like to score. Despite consistent pressure, the Canadian side saw their goalless drought reach 510 minutes.
Lineups

Bethlehem: Jake McGuire; Matthew Real (Matthew Mahoney 83′), Mark McKenzie, Hugh Roberts, Aaron Jones; James Chambers, Chris Wingate; Cory Burke, Chris Nanco (Santi Moar 67′), Marcus Epps (Josh Heard 78′); Seku Conneh

Unused Subs: Jahmali Waite, Yosef Samuel, Amoy Brown

Toronto: Angelo Cavalluzzo; Oyvind Alseth, Brandon Aubrey, Mitchell Taintor (Brandon Onkony 71′); Liam Fraser,  Tsubasa Endoh, Ashtone Morgan (Ryan Telfer 45′), Jordan McCrary; Luca Uccello, Ben Spencer, Aikim Andrews (Shaan Hundal 59′)
Unused Subs: Mark Pais, Sergio Camargo, Brian James, Luis Pereira

Scoring summary

BST: Cory Burke — 8′ (PK)

Disciplinary summary

BST: Chris Nanco – 9′ (foul)

One Comment

  1. WeAreSteel 2K17 says:

    Typical Steel win but I’ll take it. Hope we can finish the sweep of Cincy on Saturday and jump into a playoff spot.

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