USL Match report

Brief recap and postgame quotes: Bethlehem Steel FC 1-2 FC Cincinnati

Photo: Courtesy of Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem Steel’s inaugural home opener, played in front of 3,655 fans at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium on a sunny but windy Sunday afternoon, ended in disappointment.

After going down 2-0 in the first half, the Steelmen battled throughout the second half but went down to ten men after Boluwatife Akinyode, who had already earned a yellow card in the 69th minute, picked up a second following a kerfuffle with former Union man Antoine Hoppenot.

Still, Bethlehem continued to press and in the 90th minute Eric Ayuk scored to make it 2-1, setting up a furious stoppage time period. Bethlehem captain Ryan Richter hit the post in added time but the game would end 2-1 in favor of FC Cincinnati.

Six Union players — John McCarthy, Taylor Washington, Joshua Yaro, Leo Fernandes, Eric Ayuk, and Walter Restrepo — started and went the full 90 for Bethlehem, with Cole Missimo entering the game in the 72nd minute. For FC Cincinnati, former Union players Austin Berry, Corben Cone, and Jimmy McLaughlin got the start, with Antoine Hoppenot entering in the 74th minute.

Bethlehem are on the road to face New York Red Bulls II on April 10 before returning to Goodman Stadium on April 17 to host Richmond Kickers at 3 pm.

Bethlehem Steel FC
John McCarthy; Taylor Washington, Joshua Yaro, Mickey Daly (Cole Missimo 72’), Ryan Richter ©; Derrick Jones (James Chambers 55’), Boluwatife Akinyode, Leo Fernandes, Eric Ayuk, Walter Restrepo; Gabe Gissie (Seku Conneh 61’).
Substitutes not used: Samir Badr, Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Amoy Brown.

FC Cincinnati
Mitch Hildebrandt; Tyler Polak, Harrison Delbridge, Austin Berry, Pat McMahon (Derek Luke 88’); Ross Tomaselli, Kenney Walker, Corben Bone, Jimmy McLaughlin, Andrew Wiedeman (Omar Mohomed, 83’); Sean Okoli (Antoine Hoppenot 74’).
Substitutes not used: Dallas Jaye, Paul Nicholson, Luke Spencer, Alvaro Anton Ripoll.

Scoring Summary
CIN – Andrew Wiedeman (Kenney Walker) 25’
CIN – Sean Okoli (Andrew Wiedeman) 35’
BSFC – Eric Ayuk 90’

Disciplinary Summary
CIN – Kenney Walker (yellow) 40’
BSFC – Boluwatife Akinyode (yellow) 69’
CIN – Antoine Hoppenot (yellow) 80’
BSFC – Boluwatife Akinyode (second yellow) 80’

Bethlehem Steel FC postgame quotes

Brendan Burke
On the game

I was happy with our response. We dug ourselves a hole today obviously going down two-nil at halftime. In a professional setting it’s a tall order to come back from that. Our response was good, we found a goal eventually, it just came a little late. We hit the bar there at the end, I think the response was there just not enough today.

On the two goals conceded 

I thought it was a lack of reaction and intensity in midfield that actually lead to those goals. I thought it was the first layer where we broke down. Then it left our defenders in numbers down situations.

On the atmosphere in the inaugural match

It was great, I thought it was excellent. If we get that sort of support going forward I think we’re going to be in great shape. We’ll get the results that goes with a nice attendance like that next time.

On the play of Seku Conneh

“Seku did very well today. He was away with Liberia with the senior team and just got back. He’d been away from the team for 10 or 11 days. He was a little jetlagged that’s why we didn’t get him on there from the start. It was encouraging I think he earned more time with that performance.”

John McCarthy

On having a busy day in net

It was tough. I’m sure some guys might have had some nerves being the first home opener in club history. I thought the team did well, we two rough patches in the first half for like five minutes and that’s what cost us the game right there. I thought my team did well, it’s a long season and we’ll be better.

On the crowd support

It was great. I didn’t think we’d have nearly as many fans. It was a long way to get here and to see that type of crowd, in that type of environment, it was great to play in front of. They cheered for 90 minutes. It wasn’t just the supporters section it was everybody, and I’m grateful for them.

Ryan Richter

On the atmosphere

It was a special day for the club. The fans didn’t let us down, they gave us great support and it was a really special atmosphere. I just wish we could’ve come away with three points.

On the game being physical as a whole

It definitely was especially because we were down and pressing pretty high. Trying to get that break through especially when we were down a man. They’re a competitive team just like us, so it’s going to make for a good game, but a physical game.

Eric Ayuk

On his goal

I was happy to score, but disappointed in the game. We just have to keep working hard and keep moving forward in our game.

On the fan support

I was so happy. I was not expecting the fans to come a lot. I was happy to see the fans in Bethlehem, but we have to keep working hard.


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    Wonder what Steel’s goal for attendance is.
    Am I off base to think 3,600 people isn’t a particularly keen figure in light of a home opener for a brand new team?
    Annoys the hell out of me we have modeled our league after NFL and MLB.

    • hobosocks says:

      I felt the same when I heard the number, but then, I don’t know what USL’s targets are. It’s probably important to keep in mind we’re still talking about what is technically a 3rd division side here.
      As far as the game, I felt BSFC was a little hard done in the first half. They generated chance after chance at first but fell apart on defense a couple times and that was that. Reminds me of another team that played this weekend. Harkes’ team seemed to figure them out a bit as the game went on.

    • I was surprised when they announced that number, it felt like more that that, but then where I was sitting it would be hard to tell. I think it’s not a great number, but that’s about average for USL.

    • it felt like that yesterday. i don’t expect them to open Goodman’s N stands for most games. topping out for 1 stand i’d say they have about 7,000. maybe playoffs.

      as far as the USL average numbers:
      they fall in that average, which is likely their goal.

      anyone interested, NASL is about 5,000/match.

    • USL advertising the FC Cincinnati sold over 10,000 tix for their opener

  2. pragmatist says:

    Ryan Richter is a copyright?

  3. The second yellow for Akinyode was complete BS. Happened right in front of us, Hoppenot threw the ball away to waste time, and then flopped in the most dramatic fashion when Akinyode moved to back him off.

    End of the game was great fun after Ayuk’s goal. There was a group behind us that really got into it, chanting (penalty!), jumping, and singing, giving the East Enders and run for their money. Loved it.

    • That’s Hoppenot’s game. We all could predict what he was going to do there, but maybe Akinyode wasn’t familiar with him. The ref didn’t really even fall for it since he gave Antoine a yellow too but a hand to the face is going to be called. Ref probably hated himself for having to do it, since last year Hoppenot rarely got any calls for Harrisburg with his act. I’m sure he’s well known among USL refs.
      Really impressed with Ayuk. That’s 2 games now where he’s looked like one of, if not the best guy on the field. So far he definitely seems a cut above the USL competition.

  4. remember when hoppenot was known as a super sub and not an embellisher?
    that was ridiculous. glad he’s gone

  5. No flips from Ayuk! While my kids will be disappointed, at least he’s showing some game situation awareness! Nice goal.

  6. old soccer coach says:

    If anyone needs a visual aid to illustrate undisciplined double pivot defensive central midfield play, show the first fifty-five minutes of this game. In mitigation, whenever I have managed to find information about Derrick Jones this past preseason it has not been at DCM. He tried to play the double pivot the way Nogueira and Alberg did against Jacksonville, way back when, but he probably had at most a week to practice it with Akinyode, assuming Burke knew Fernandes was coming down immediately after the game in Montreal. Given comments by Curtin about the timing of decision making, Burke may only have had forty-eight hours to prepare the pairing. That tells you how much he felt he owed Jones his professional debut. It cost the game.
    The combination of both DCMs vacating the critical space in front of the CBs and Fernandes drifting to the wings in search of offensive creativity, meant that when Cincy dispossessed them, there was no resistance in the center of the midfield, no defensive depth in front of the back four (or three if a flank back had been caught up field in the attack). None. Cincy goals were only a matter of time. Recall how easily Jimmy McGlaughlin made penetrating runs with the ball along the top edge of the box with no DCM present to contest the space.
    In the ten minutes after halftime there was some evidence that Fernandes had been reinstructed on his defensive duties, but Jones and Akinyode were not much improved, Chambers came on for Jones and the game changed.
    It further changed when Conneh came on for Gisse. In the terminology of someone my age, Conneh “showed” himself with intelligence and precision to his advancing, ball possessing midfielders. Learning that he had been away with the Liberian national team was helpful, as I had been wondering where he was earlier. Amoy Brown and Gabe Gisse are both nineteen and give the intuitive impression of being teenagers playing with adults, a great thing for them developmentally, not necessarily good for winning games in the here and now. (full marks to Gisse for his commitment and effort, especially to the dirty running on defense. Loved the surprise block on the Cincy fullback trying to distribute! Walter Restrepo needs to take lessons.)
    Wish they’d put the east end army, and only the east end army, in the east stands at midfield. that way they would function as cheerleaders for the rest of the stadium, instead of being irrelevant off in the corner. LOVED that drum; the SoBs need to add one like it to their collection!

    • “cost them the game.” This brings up a good question. Do we really care about results for Bethlehem? I think moving players out of position or trying new formations to get a better understanding of what a player is capable of, or give them more experience with certain game situations, is exactly what we should use BSFC for…regardless of results. My 2 cents.

      • At the professional level winning, IMO, should for sure be what matters but winning– while learning to play well and within the philosophical structure that has been incorporated into the franchise from the youth up to the first team…

        see where I’m going with this?

      • +1

      • old soccer coach says:

        I’ve run farm teams, and you have to try to do both, among other things for the morale of the farm team.
        That said, I hear, understand and value your point.
        and the relationship between 1st team and farm team is in its earliest stages.

      • It will definitely be a balancing act. The 2 holding mids yesterday- Jones and Akinyode- were fighting the game some. From what I saw of Chambers in the first game, he’s better right now than them but he’s also 29. So if you’re going to have a development team you’ll have to live with the downside of the development curve for some players at the expense of putting out the absolute best lineup.
        I don’t know how old Richter is but he’s looked very good out there. Him and Ayuk as a pair has been very dangerous the first 2 games.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Richter is 27, without double checking my memory. He was a college graduate when he made the Union in 2010 because he came to camp and won that Coca-cola conditioning test. I have always thought that Nowak kept him as an example to the rest that the conditioning standard Nowak set could be achieved.

    • Thanks for the nice analysis OSC. While it was fun to be near player level (there was an east ender heckling the FC Cin subs warming up much to our amusement) I usually prefer sitting as high up as possible to get a more tatical view. Sitting that close it was hard to get a clear sense of play, particularly the goals as the came down the BSFC left and hence the far side of the field. It’s good to have someone with a practiced eye illuminate the tactics for us.

      • old soccer coach says:

        thanks, but full credit to the camera that was on the far side, My eyes are too old to see the detail on the Cincy goals.

  7. old soccer coach says:

    Just looked at the first goal courtesy of the replay available at the top of this article (thank you, Ed![that’s an efficient G-rated double entendre, sorry!). Washington was dealing with both sun and wind on the initial long ball, but had “cover” only from Daly, Akinyode was too far away, up the field judging by the angle of his tardy recovery run, and Restrepo had not automatically tracked back into the midfield defensive line. Washington erred, but the assumptions made that he would handle it naively did not recall both the sun field and the variable wind.

  8. old soccer coach says:

    Looking at Cincy’s second goal, there was a triangle of Cincinnati white shirts with the ball in front of the Steel center backs, no Steel DCMs inside the camera’s frame. BC is scolding them as I type, more than likely.

  9. For those wondering about attendance, the number was certainly disappointing for the home opener but the weather was brutal here in the Valley yesterday. Ironically the only outdoor place safe from the high winds and cold were the seats at Goodman. The wind was coming in from behind the home side so the structure of the stadium blocked it if you were in your seat. Unfortunately you wouldn’t know that unless you went to the game.


    I think it’s very likely we see 6-8k once we hit the summer months. It certainly seemed like more than 3.6k yesterday and many of those seemed like people who will be back for every game. The line for merchandise was very long an hour before kickoff. Many people already had BSFC gear when they got there. The “Inaugural Season” scarves were sold out by the end of the match.

  10. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    Of course the Frenchmen fell down like he’d been shot in order to fool the referee.

    But Akinyode never ever should have put his hand on Hoppenot’s face (which one can clearly see that he did do on the replay of the game available on YouTube) and given the guy the opportunity to put on his little act.

    Because it was Akinyode who was already carrying a yellow card going into that situation and, therefore, it is the Nigerian who needs to be much, much more professional about such matters.

    “Bethlehem Steel FC Comeback Bid Falls Short In Historic Home Opener”

    Unauthorized Bethlehem Steel FC Blog

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Nice to see you here, “Football watcher”! Welcome!
      If you want to follow the Steel, His stuff is worth reading on the blog he mentions. He finds tidbits about steel players and does thorough research in the ten or so days I’ve been aware of the site and his stuff.

  11. Old Soccer Coach says:

    One further thought as we think about the Steel’s next game. The Union are directly forbidden from playing Creavalle with the Steel by the language in this year’s MLS rules about suspensions. And the Union themselves are thin at #6 already, without calling on those from other midfield spots who could play the #6 (Nogueira, primarily that I can think of). So Jones may get to play there again next game next to Chambers at #8, unless one of the bench midfielders has DCM experience, e.g., Josh Heard?

    • der Fussballzuschauer says:

      Yeah, that’s what I’m assuming given Akinyode’s red card suspension, as well … that Jones & Chambers are the two defensive midfielders in front of the BSFC back line.

      I suppose the Philadelphia Union Academy player Lamine Conte is a possibility – the 17-year-old reportedly was the DMF in front of the back four when BSFC switched to a diamond-shape midfield about halfway through the second half of their pre-season exhibition with NPSL side Junior Lone Star … Conte also replaced Chambers as one of the two DMFs at some point in the pre-season exhibition win over Syracuse University.

      Nick Bibbs, the 25-year-old Syracuse University product who was with the USL club Saint Louis FC last season, primarily plays at right back but also has midfield experience, if I am not mistaken … Bibbs was known to be injured earlier in pre-season training camp and, although he has been listed on the active roster for the first two games, not much is known with respect to his current state of match fitness.

      I can’t really say for sure what position Heard played in at the University of Washington but he’s been used as an attacking player, either in the middle of the park or out on the wing from what little information we got with respect to BSFC’s pre-season Trainingsspiele.

      • der Fussballzuschauer says:

        I suppose the 37-year-old Brazilian player / assistant coach FRED is available for selection by Bethlehem Steel FC, as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *