Philadelphia Union II

Recap: Charlotte Independence 0-1 Bethlehem Steel

Photo: Courtesy of Charlotte Independence

Fortune swung Bethlehem Steel FC’s way Friday when an opposition communication error led to the only goal in a 1-0 win over the Charlotte Independence.

In the 11th minute and North Carolina’s famous heat and humidity, Charlotte Independence captain Bilal Duckett squibbed an easy back pass to his keeper, John Berner.

Bethlehem’s Corey Burke intercepted and, after dodging the self-same keeper, settled near the left corner of the box. Then, after a long pause to judge two retreating defenders, he calmly struck, netting the game’s only goal in Friday night’s 1-0 road win.

Charlotte’s side included several players with local connections, including former Union men Zach Pfeffer and Brian Brown, former Union trialist and long-time Harrisburg City Islanders midfielder Yann Ekra, and former City Islanders back-up goalkeeper Kyle Renfro.

First half

The Steel started the game brightly, dominating play for the first 10 minutes, accumulating four early corner kicks. On the rare occasions that Charlotte crossed midfield, it was typically only one player and then only for one or two touches.

In the 11th minute, the Steel defense cleared a ball long to Charlotte’s backs. Duckett fluffed his line while Burke nailed his for his first goal of the season in only his second start.

Bethlehem’s dominance continued for another several minutes until heat and the score line slowed them down.

In the 24th minute, the home side created good play culminating in a nice lay off to Pablo Herrera, whose top of the box shot flew straight to Samir Badr. It was Charlotte’s only shot on goal of the half.

The Steel reasserted themselves in the 30th minute when a Ryan Richter cross found Derrick Jones at the back post for a header that forced the best save of the half to keep the score line unchanged.

The officials called a heat break in the 35th minute amid 92-degree temperatures on the sun-drenched, unevenly surfaced pitch still recovering from the previous week’s mid-game game-ending deluge.

Steel fans had cause for concern in the 41st minute when Burke went down and removed his shoe. The referee nevertheless allowed Charlotte to play on for well more than a minute. When Badr collected, he mortar bombed the Charlotte bench with his punt. But Burke ended two minutes of first-half stoppage time controlling the ball against four Independence midfield defenders to kill the clock.

Second half

Charlotte began the second half with more inspired play, pressing the midfield, and jumping the passing lanes between Bethlehem’s defenders and mids. They kept control for nearly ten minutes, generating three shots, including efforts from Zach Pfeffer, and so presenting a continuous threat.

Having frantically absorbed pressure, Bethlehem began to adjust and counter to hit a few nice chances as Charlotte opened themselves by pressing forward.

Charlotte coach Mike Jeffries changed the game around the 70th minute by bringing on Enzo Martinez and changing shape from four to three in the back. Those changes added onto the Carolina “Cuban Summer,” and Burke’s concurrent departure reduced Steel’s offensive threats, and enhanced those of the home side.

But Badr kept coming up big for Bethlehem, as did the tall trees of the Steel’s aerial defense. In the 77th, Martinez put a through ball past Trusty, leaving Badr alone to charge the ball carrier. He saved it taking a cleat to the knee and producing the best save of the match. The eventual clean sheet was aided by luck, as some severe Independence threats were mishit. It was Badr’s first clean sheet of the season and also his first win.

By the end, Charlotte had only one man back, attacking with nine in the box. Bethlehem’s clearances no longer sought targets. Bethlehem head coach Brendan Burke used four subs to win respites, with Mark McKenzie coming on in the 95th.

At the final whistle, Carolinian teeth ground in frustration. For only the second time all season had they failed to score at home.

Bethlehem’s five-game USL road stretch continues against North Carolina’s Wilmington Hammerheads on Friday, June 17. Also, fans can catch the team in Reading for a friendly this Sunday when they face Reading United in a friendly.

Bethlehem Steel
Samir Badr; Ryan Richter (C), Mickey Daly, Auston Trusty, Taylor Washington; Bolu Akinyode, Derrick Jones (Mckenzie 90’+4’), James Chambers, Cole Missimo (Taylor-Parker 79’); Jamie Luchini (McMaster 90’), Cory Burke (Heard 71’)
Substitutes not used: Andre Verdi, Nick Bibbs, Lamine Conte

Charlotte Independence
Berner; Kalungi, Duckett (C) (Hellman 75’), Johnson, Slogic (Metcalfe 80’); Ekra, Herrera, Davidson; Pfeffer (Martinez 62’), Calvert (Estrada 85’), Brown
Substitutes not used: Mizell, Clowes, Bartlett

Scoring Summary
BSFC — Cory Burke — 11′

Disciplinary Summary
BSFC — Cory Burke — 68′
CLT — Caleb Calvert — 80′

Match Stats (BSFC / CLT)
Shots: 11-12
Shots On Goal: 6-3
Corners: 7-7
Saves: 3-5


  1. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    Gut gemacht.

    I have Samir Badr on four saves vs Charlotte :

    24th minute – Herrera saved
    41st minute – Brown saved
    48th minute – Pfeffer saved
    77th minute – Calvert saved

    Granted, Brown probably meant to cross his ball from that wide of a position but it did go straight on target and if Badr doesn’t stop it, it’s a goal, so that has to count, if only in my world of soccer (translation : that’s how it would be recorded in the Bundesliga).

    Additional thoughts on this matter?

  2. Tim Jones says:

    I take notes as a game scout reporting to a head coach on shape, strengths, weaknesses, personnel quirks, other qualitative characteristics that might help us win..
    Your question illustrates the nuances of quantitative statistics when the events being sorted and counted are not clear, and not binary (black or white). It is your judgment that your fourth item was a save. It was not mine. Does it matter?
    We are in agreement that, while Corey Burke gets the customary Man of the Match label for the winning goal, Samir Badr gets Saviour of the Match for his play throughout, especially under bombardment in the last portion of the game.

  3. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    Does it really, really matter? … No, of course not … From my own view of the replay, Calvert clearly gets a touch (1:55:22 mark on tape) and, if not for Badr’s left arm … But, hey, I must admit that I have not had an eye exam in quite some time. Perhaps my sight has deteriorated. Moreover, no, none of this USL stuff really matters anyway … Sincere thanks for sharing your additional thoughts.

  4. Your data is quite appealing

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