Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem 0-1 Harrisburg

Bethlehem Steel FC dropped a 1-0 loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders on Thursday, breaking their 2-game shut-out at home.

The potential win could have boosted the Steel past the Richmond Kickers into 6th place and a playoff qualifying position, but it was not to be. Harrisburg’s Brett Jankouskas netted in the 74th minute to secure his team the win.

The first half consisted of both teams fighting a midfield battle for possession. With players tightly compact, much of the play centered around the wings with plenty of throw-ins and physical challenges that led to yellow cards.

The City Islanders fared better in the exchanges, and they frequently penetrated the Steel back line with darting runs and entered Bethlehem’s defensive third. Harrisburg constructed more stable passing plays from the midfield and progress towards the penalty box, as well as launching long balls from their backline to their two forwards.

Bethlehem goalkeeper Matt Jones played admirably in his second start of the season. He stifled Islander’s long balls to their forwards, including a 15th minute counterattack that was Harrisburg’s first good chance.

As the game opened up, Bethlehem was able to create their own handful of attacks. An 18th minute long ball to striker Corey Burke looked promising but failed to threaten in the end.

Bethlehem’s closest chance came in the 25 minute on Ryan Richter’s free kick, which Harrisburg goalkeeper Keasel Broome dropped. Burke responded swiftly for the tap-in, but Broome reclaimed control of the ball just before Burke made contact.

The half lacked of urgency, and while Bethlehem had their chances, there was a lack of defensive pressure, which allowed Harrisburg their chances.

The Steel sought to correct their performance with a revitalized 2nd half by moving quickly into the opposing half for a more aggressive approach.

Notably, Richter’s attacking support contributed greatly to Bethlehem’s attacking performance, creating lots of crosses and making lots of overloading runs. However his advanced position left him unable to defend in the lead up to Harrisburg’s goal.

The City Islanders seemed content to withstand the attack. They moved into Bethlehem’s half, though less often in comparison, mostly launching their counters when possible.

Their ability to absorb Bethlehem’s flurry of attacks helped them counter with the game-winning cross to Jankouskas in the 74th minute.

Harrisburg sprung forward after winning the ball from Chambers outside their box. Bethlehem center backs Anderson and Nick Gibbs, the latter in his first start for Bethlehem, each made a defensive error while tracking back to the box. Anderson seemed to want to mark the crosser, letting a runner fly by him, causing Gibbs to come and mark him. However, another Islander runner, Jankouskas, remained unmarked with just Jones to beat, and Jankouskas took advantage of Jones’ less than stellar position to slide the ball past the keeper for the goal.

Despite the situation, Bethlehem remained resilient, and for the last 15 minutes of the match, retained possession in the attacking half and pelted Harrisburg with attacks. However, they were unable to equalize.

Bethlehem will play the Rochester Rhinos at home on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Three points

Despite the loss, Bethlehem still continued to show positive strides in improving their play. Perhaps the line-up change from their usual starters was a factor in the opening half. Though they were unable to impose a heavy pressing defense at first, they were later able to create more chances with attacking runs into the offensive third.

  1. Inexperience spoils chances: Target forward Corey Burke and subs Amoy Brown and Seku Conneh were able to contribute in hold-up play and help create chances, but those chances were spoiled by inexperience. Brown and Burke don’t normally get a lot of playing time.
  2. Good runs, empty crosses: Wingers Chambers and Massimo showed great promise with their attacking runs, but their chances seemed squandered when either there aren’t enough players to provide crosses to, or the defense closes off their options.
  3. Richter crucial, but still burned: Ryan Richter proved that his attacking support is integral to the team, but the cost of offensive support can come at a steep price. His movements were usually safe; he tended to cross from deeper positions, but in the build-up to the Islander goal, he decided to make a penetrating run while the defense was preoccupied in the center.
Bethlehem lineup

Matt Jones; Ryan Richter ©, Nick Bibbs, Anderson Conceicao, Taylor Washington; Boluwatife Akinyode (Anthony Fontana 79’), James Chambers; Derrick Jones (Amoy Brown 81’); Cole Missimo (Gabe Gissie 62’), Josh Heard (Jamie Luchini 62’), Cory Burke (Seku Conneh 66’)

Substitutes not used: Samir Badr, Fred da Silva

Harrisburg lineup

Keasel Broome; Jamie Thomas, Liam Doyle, Dante Leverock, Shawn Mclaws; Cardel Benbow, Bobby Warshaw ©, Mohammed Dabo, Matt Bolduc (Josh Hughes 82’); Jose Barril (Donny DiPrima 85’), Garret Pettis (Brett Jankouskas 66’)

Substitutes not used: Nick Noble, Shane Campbell, Yousseff Naciri, Josh Hughes, Donny DiPrima, Cam Vickers

Scoring summary

74’ Brett Jankouskas (Cardel Benbow)

Discipline summary

22’ Cole Missimo (Yellow Card)

24’ Dante Leverock (Yellow Card)

29’ Matt Bolduc (Yellow Card)

79’ Cardel Benbow (Yellow Card)

89’ Anderson Conceicao (Yellow Card)


  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Absolutely right that Richter was caught up field on Harrisburg’s goal.
    I did not notice the specific reasons why live, and need to review the tape to discover how the Steel lost possession on the play.
    Also crucial was that Taylor Washington jumped in to tackle the ball carrier (unconfirmed memory says it was Benbow himself) and missed.
    After the Washington miss, Benbow had a 3 v 2 advantage in the attacking third. That is a drill familiar to everyone who has played the game under tutelage of a coach. The Steel 2 responded properly, but so did Harrisburg 3. They should have scored and they did. They have all been practicing that play since they were kids.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Also, I would have said Corey Burke is the Steel first choice striker when he’s available.

  3. I can only drive down for Union games at the moment. How are the Steel doing with their fan base? Are they a tough sell? The turn out seems slow in growing. The Union really need this to work out. I gonna try to come down from NYC to catch a weekend of Union and Steel games.

    • I’m sure it would be nice for the players to have bigger crowds but there’s no reason to worry from a financial aspect. The financial outlay is very small.
      They’ve got 13 players who are exclusively signed to BSFC. Richter and Jones probably make close to MLS minimum. So we’ll say 50k for each. The other 11 probably make somewhere closer to USL average (which is around 2K a month), so we’ll aggressively call it 20K a year. That’s only like $320k. The senior guys are obviously covered by the Union themselves and the academy players play for free. Staffing, insurance, travel etc, and the total is probably somewhere 750k range.
      Between sponsorships and ticket sales probably cover 80% of that. Because it’s a second team the rest can be easily written off by the union as player development cost.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Go toil in the 3rd or 4th division abroad.
        Can’t even make a living here unless you’re in first division… and ‘they’ hope USL is a second tier league.
        So at about 25 you realize this isn’t worth it then become part of the problem on the other side in pay to play.
        But hey socce’s growing here and it’s ALL GOING TO BE OKAY.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Their largest crowd that I’ve noticed was under four thousand. The lowest I’ve seen is 1,008 for the Thursday noon start against Wilmington eight days ago. I have not seen an attendance number for yesterday. I did not attend two rain games early in the season, so my knowledge is not complete. I drive up on Sundays from West Chester.
      If you do it on a hot sunny late afternoon, I recommend the seats shaded by the press box even though they are pricier, for what that may be worth.

  4. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    Burke has started eight of BSFC’s last nine USL games at central striker position in the team’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

    • Jersey Soccer Fan says:

      He seems to have started more time over the past games recently. But over the course of the season, Conneh has usually gotten the majority of the playing time I think.

      I was under the impression that perhaps it was Conneh>Burke>Brown in terms of the starting lineup, but I guess it’s not as linear and Brendan Burke is swapping them out more often.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Burke was recovering from an unspecified injury for much of the early season.

      • der Fussballzuschauer says:

        Burke has 12 appearances (8 starts, 639 minutes) for BSFC while Conneh has 13 appearances (5 starts, 607 minutes) for BSFC with one of the Liberian’s starts (the 1-1 draw against Wilmington Hammerheads a few weeks ago) coming at right wing, not central striker … OSC is correct in saying Burke was not in uniform for BSFC’s first seven USL games this season while recovering from an injury reputedly picked up while training with Jamaica national team … Brown has made exactly three appearances (38 minutes all as a substitute) for BSFC all season long

  5. Daly got loaned to the Railhawks for 1 month with an option to buy. Interesting. Wonder if it was 1. About wanting to get Trusty and some of the academy kids more PT 2. Daly wanting to move up to the NASL 3. Trying to get some money on a a sale?

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Article on the Railhawks website says something suggesting injury coverage.
      Neither organization says anything about the Unionreceiving anything tangible in return.
      When Mark McKenzie returns from his rumored but unconfirmed injury, it would give him an opportunity to play, something Burke reportedly wants to try, putting him alongside Trusty.
      If the academy were to have two professional ready center backs that would be a feather in the program’s cap, wouldn’t you think?

      • Add in Real and it’s 3/4 a pretty damn good backline.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        to me, real did not look pro ready when the Rochester coach targeted him with a specific attacking substitution at their place. Bibbs replaced him and put out the fire.
        Real has not made the USL game 18 since, that I remember.

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