USL Match report

Match Report: Louisville 1-0 Bethlehem

Photo: Courtesy of Louisville City

Bethlehem Steel lost to Louisville City FC 1-0 in a wide open, end-to-end game decided by a perfectly served free kick and a header that cost the scorer, Guy Abend, the rest of his match.

Bethlehem is now winless in the last seven games with a 0-5-2 record.

Lineup implications

Bethlehem started its 24th different line-up in 25 games, with first starts from Matt Perrella in goal and Justin McMaster on the left flank. Midfielder Josue Monge not only made his first appearance in the game day eighteen, he also got his first game minutes as a late substitute when Coach Brendan Burke adjusted his personnel in an attempt to find an equalizer.

The new line-up asks several interesting questions as the Steel begin three games in eight days:

  • Matt Perrella likely started because, with Matt Jones injured on the first team and Andre Blake away with Jamaica on international duty, John McCarthy will get the first team start when the Union plays Chicago Fire away on Saturday. So either the first team or the Steel plays without a backup goalkeeper, as there will be three bodies to distribute among four slots. MLS roster exemptions have special provisions for goalkeeping emergencies.
  • At least two usual fixed presences on the Steel’s game day rosters did not make the Kentucky trip, Seku Conneh and James Chambers. Their absences, and that of others like Gabe Gisse, suggest we will see significant, deliberate squad rotation in the lineup when the team is on the road to face the City Islanders on Tuesday. (It is worth noting that as I write this on Sunday morning, the team is probably still riding the bus back from Kentucky. They will have a regeneration day on Monday and then play the City Islanders in Harrisburg on Tuesday evening with no opportunity for a regular practice in advance of the game.)
  • The new academy faces perhaps admit that the Steel have little realistic chance for the playoffs, and that evaluations for next year’s team are already underway.
The game itself

Much to the Steel’s credit after facing Montreal, one of their longest bus trips of the year, from tap-off they caught Louisville on the back foot and kept them there for the first ten to fifteen minutes of the game. Anthony Fontana at attacking center mid and McMaster on the left flank fit in well to the overall scheme and clearly belonged on the field. The uniformity of the Steel’s athleticism meant there was a consistent rhythmic flow to the squad’s play.

The game’s only goal came on a restart after Anderson was caught not goal-side of the much faster Mark-Anthony Kaye with Richter far up the pitch, and was forced to commit a professional foul that earned him a yellow card. Louisville captain Aidan Quinn delivered a perfectly placed left-footed service curling away from keeper Perrella about eight yards out. Derrick Jones rose to defend and Guy Abend headed both Jones and the ball for the goal. It cost Abend a cartoon-like, game-ending, instantly-rising knot on his left eyebrow and forced him from the field. In a game of many, equally distributed, well-served free kicks, it was the only one to be struck home.

Louisville countered the usual Steel high line with long balls to either flank towards their speed, Kadeem Dacres on their right against Taylor Washington and the aforementioned Kaye on their left against Richter. The Louisville tactic converted the game to one of back-and-forth offensive rushes, ironically similar to ice hockey, on a late-summer hot, humid Kentucky evening that saw a water break taken in the thirtieth minute of each half.

Louisville rested three of its top goal scorers until after the seventieth minute, but played their first choice defense and midfield, and the Steel gave them everything they could handle. Eric Ayuk and Ryan Richter have rediscovered the chemistry that made them so dangerous in the right channel early in the season. Corey Burke played the full ninety, his best scoring chance coming in the 22nd minute on a cross from Ayuk when his header went just wide.

Louisville’s long-ball tactic also diminished the effects of one of the Steel’s usual strengths, its midfield of Bolu Akinyode and Jones. Neither team did much building in the center of the pitch. In consequence as time passed neither team maintained much offensive width, a point that both Coach Burke and Louisville Coach James O’Conner will undoubtedly touch during film breakdowns to come.
Matt Perrella spectacularly made the save of the game in the 80th minute against a volley from the right ticketed for the far upper ninety by Aidan Quinn.

Additional points

1. The City Islanders passed the Steel into ninth place on the night. They are level at 26 points each but City Islanders have the first tie-breaker with one more win. The Steel have a game in hand. They play Tuesday on the Harrisburg Senators field on City Island.

2. Louisville plays at Louisville Slugger stadium, a baseball diamond named for the old baseball bat manufacturer. The infield and outfield are of course grass. For soccer the dirt of the infield is covered with artificial turf, creating a hybrid of two different traction matrices. This matters because of the seams in the turf and between the turf and the grass. It matters even more because on the turf you cannot stick your plant foot hard as you prepare to drive the ball for distance. If you do, you will slip and fall. The characteristic affects goalkeeper six yard kicks most obviously.

3. The effort put forth by the Steel speaks well for their commitment to playing the game properly and for finishing the season strongly without regard to their place in the table. They will not quit. They are credit to themselves and their coaches.

Bethlehem Steel FC
Matthew Perrella; Ryan Richter ©, Anderson Conceicao, Auston Trusty, Taylor Washington; Boluwatife Akinyode, Derrick Jones, Anthony Fontana (Josh Heard 65’); Eric Ayuk, Justin McMaster (Jamie Luchini 56’), Cory Burke
Substitutes not used: Samir Badr, Nick Bibbs, Matthew Real, Josue Monge, Amoy Brown

Louisville City FC
Greg Ranjitsingh; Kyle Smith, Sean Reyonlds, Paco Craig, Tarek Morad; Aodhan Quinn, Guy Abend (Paolo DepPiccolo 15’), Kadeem Dacres, Magnus Rasmussen (Iljija Ilic 87’), Mark-Anthony Kaye (Andrew Lubahn 87’); Cameron Lancaster (Chandler Hoffman 72’)
Substitutes not used: Tim Dobrowolski, Enrique Montano, George Davis IV

Scoring Summary
LOU – 15’ – Guy Abend (Aodhan Quinn)

Disciplinary Summary
BST – 15’ – Anderson (Yellow Card)
BST – 47’ – Corey Burke (Yellow Card)
LOU – 50’ – Cameron Lancaster (Yellow Card)
BST – 66’ – Ryan Richter (Yellow Card)
LOU – 88’ – Kyle Smith (Yellow Card)
LOU – 90’ – Paolo DelPiccolo (Yellow Card)

Match Stats (BSFC / LOU)
Shots: 5 / 13
Shots On Goal: 3 / 3
Corners: 2 / 7
Saves: 2 / 3
Fouls: 13 / 15

Match Officials
Tony Crush; Cory Richardson, Ben Hall-Volpenhein; Reiss Baxter

2 Comments

  1. My apologies to all, Josue Monge did come on as a substitute in the 83rd minute and should not be listed under “not used subs”. He came on for Taylor Washington, I believe.
    .
    And I spelled Louisville captain Quinn’s name phonetically rather than correctly.

  2. Who is this Matthew Perrella who seemingly came out of no where?

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