Philadelphia Union II

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 2-0 Pittsburgh Riverhounds

The home side’s 2-0 winning score does not reflect how thoroughly Bethlehem Steel FC dominated the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday in Bethlehem.

The visitors sustained threatening pressure for about five minutes at the start of the second half.

But that was it.

Bethlehem’s central midfield controlled the game outside that brief stretch. Bolu Akinyode, Derrick Jones and James Chambers were bigger, stronger, quicker and faster winning balls away from the visitors, repeatedly. When in possession, their technical ball control was better, their passes were more precise and their triangles repeatedly bypassed Pittsburgh’s midfield defense.

Pittsburgh’s only meaningful threats came on long, direct counterattacking passes to highly energetic striker Corey Hertzog, which Bethlehem’s center backs largely contained. Auston Trusty’s speed and anticipation combined with Mickey Daly’s experienced poise under pressure and judicious use of the offside line to keep Hertzog under control.

The game marked Bethlehem’s sixth shutout of the year.

First half

The game began with a spate of fouls. After an exchange of back-and-forth forays, the Steel began to assert control after about 10 minutes.

In the 21st minute, an excellent series of give-and-go combinations among Derrick Jones, Taylor Washington and Leo Fernandes put the ball in the net but was disallowed by an offside call. The underlying structure of that sequence, moving forward in the left channel seeking Corey Burke in the center and Fernandes on the right in the offensive third, predominated throughout the first half.

In the 24th minute, Steel fans felt there had been a foul inside the edge of the box, but the referee continued play. The ball squirted wide right to Burke, who calmly slotted home the game’s first goal past the on-rushing Riverhounds keeper.

Only in the 30th minute did Pittsburgh strike their first shot on goal. (Bethlehem out shot them 14-5 on the day.) Their first corner kick came in the 40th minute.

Second half

Pittsburgh head coach Dave Brandt’s halftime adjustments had an effect for just over five minutes, until the Steel read the challenge, picked up their pace of play and took back control of central midfield. Pittsburgh’s efforts to attack left them open to counterattacks. Those counters triggered the Steel reassertion of dominance.

In the 52nd minute, Fernandes put an excellent chance just outside the near post.

In the 63rd off a free kick, Burke just barely failed to connect his high foot to a good cross toward the far post.

In the 87th, Pittsburgh midfielder Danny Earls made a late, two-footed tackle on Taylor Washington, with his trailing foot scything down Washington’s standing leg. Referee Mathew Kreitzer showed only a yellow card for what replay clearly showed should have been a red.

And in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Bethlehem’s Josh Heard was taken down by center back Sergio Campbell inside the box. Referee Kreitzer called the obvious penalty but generously allowed “the last man back” who had “denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity” to stay on the pitch. Fernandes went low towards the right post on the spot kick, and Pittsburgh keeper Hunter Gilstrap got a hand to it but failed to keep it out, making the final score 2-0. Kreitzer blew for full time as soon as the goal was scored.

Three Points

A box to box No. 10: James Chambers played as the Steel #10 and generally went box to box until the 80th minute in what seemed to be a remarkably free role. Chambers does not hesitate to shoot from distance, but does not keep his shots down. He did clip the opposite upper 90 with his last shot of the game. His energy, understanding, creativity, and defending were essential to the team’s success on the day. He is by far the most effective No. 10 deployed this season by Bethlehem head coach Brendan Burke.

3 games, 9 days: Thursday’s noontime start at home against Wilmington Hammerheads will be the third game in nine days for the Steel. You could also see some players feature in the Union’s friendly against Crystal Palace. Thursday’s game day 18 and starting 11 will be interesting to discover.

Left back Taylor Washington in fine form: Taylor Washington seems in excellent form as a left back, with a high work rate. His involvement in the creation of offense down the left channel recalls the early season combination of Richter and Ayuk on the opposite side of the field.

Lineup: Bethlehem

John McCarthy; Ryan Richter ©, Mickey Daly, Auston Trusty, Taylor Washington; Boluwatife Akinyode, James Chambers (Gabe Gissie 80’), Derrick Jones; Leo Fernandes, Cole Missimo (Josh Heard 70’), Cory Burke (James Luchini 89’)

Substitutes not used: Badr Samir; Nick Bibbs; Fred, Amoy Brown

Lineup: Pittsburgh

Hunter Gilstrap; Marhsall Hollingsworth, Ryan Adeleye (Drew Russell ‘77), Sergio Campbell, Mike Green (Nick Thompson 80’); Danny Earls, Kevin Kerr ©, Zak Boggs (Will Hunt 46’), Jack Thompson (Ben Swanson ’46); Lebo Moloto (Conor Branson 46’), Corey Hertzog

Substitutes not used: Mauricio Vargas, Jordan Murrell

Scoring summary

24’ Cory Burke

90 + 2’ Leo Fernandes (PK)

Discipline summary

59’ – PIT Ryan Adeleye (Yellow Card)

70’ – BSFC Derrick Jones (Yellow Card)

85’ – PIT Conor Branson (Yellow Card)

85’ – BST Taylor Washington (Yellow Card)

87’ – BST Gabriel Gissie (Yellow Card)


  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    From an earlier post of yours discussing the relationship among the organization’s many rosters, it seems improbable that Steel players would appear for the Union in an exhibition? Or am I missing something?

    • Per MLS Roster Rules:


      MLS clubs may sign players from their USL affiliate to Short Term Agreements (up to four-day contracts) for CONCACAF Champions League, AMWAY Canadian Championship, U.S. Open Cup, and exhibition matches. An MLS club may sign a player to a maximum of four short term agreements each season (maximum of 16 days).

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Aren’t some of the BS players already signed to Union contracts (Ayuk, Washington, obviously Fernandez)? I’m guessing, though, that with a game on Thursday, not many of them besides Leo will be playing Wednesday night.

      • pragmatist says:

        McCarthy will likely play against Palace.
        Past that, it will be interesting to see how important it is to the organization as a whole to get these guys minutes against stronger competition, particularly when it doesn’t effect the standings.
        I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jones and Washington in the 18 against Palace. Sometimes, BSFC’s results have to be sacrificed for the betterment of the organization.

      • Then I’d suspect the usual players from the first team get their minutes in this game (ayuk, Washington, missimo, fernandes, restrepo, anderson, maybe herbers). The club will have to decide how much everyone can play, with both clubs playing in short order afterward. (Note that I hate sacrificing a lovely full week between matches to play a stupid friendly in the middle of the season). Throw the u18 academy team out there for all I care.

      • Agree completely with poorly timed friendlies getting in the way of important games. And with BSFC in place, they’re not even all that needed to get young players minutes any longer. That said, selfishly, I really hope to see Ayuk play Wednesday night.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Excellent, CPeif, many thanks.
        A device exists. I had not remembered it.

  2. Zizouisgod says:

    Great match summary, Tim.

  3. Dave Brandt is now coaching the Riverhounds?! How did I miss that? I expect that they will get better as they buy into what he’s trying to implement (and this game was definitely not it).

  4. Scott of Nazareth says:

    Great report! Between youth soccer and basketball conflicts, this was our first opportunity to attend a BSFC game and it was an awesome experience. Perfect weather, good tailgating and a 2-0 win – not a bad way to spend a Sunday!

    Would be even better if they could get some Saturday home games on the schedule.

  5. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    it was not Chambers who struck the crossbar with a shot but rather the Lehigh University local boy Luchini … Chambers was not even in the game at the time, having been taken off for Gissie in the 80th minute … Luchini’s shot off the crossbar occurred in the 93rd minute as the You Tube tape will clearly confirm for those who bother to watch (92:53 mark of the match per the clock from Service Electric TV and 2:12:43 mark of You Tube tape)

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