USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem 0-2 Orlando City B

Bethlehem Steel lost the last game of their inaugural season 0-2 to Orlando City B on Sunday afternoon at Lehigh University.

The Steel outshot the Floridians 19-4 but failed to score in an effort that echoed the team’s dominant statistic. Only Pittsburgh scored fewer USL goals in 2016. Bethlehem’s final 2016 record is 6-14-10, and they hold tenth place in the East.

The Steel began the game on the front foot. James Chambers, wearing the captain’s armband for the first time, was all over the field in the first portion of the match, winning the ball and distributing it.

But in the ninth minute, a Steel throw-in deep on the right side of its defensive third was stolen and found its way to Orlando City B forward Michael Cox, who had gotten goal side of Nick Bibbs near the left post. Cox held off Bibbs for three touches until Orlando’s Johnny Mendoza made an unmarked run in the box from deeper on the right. Cox found him with an excellent pass across the goal mouth, and Cox tapped home from less than six yards from pay dirt. Steel goalkeeper Matt Perrella had no chance.

Nonetheless, Bethlehem continued to bombard the Orlando goal. By halftime, they had 13 shots, and Orlando had 2. The space in front of the two Orlando center backs went unoccupied and undefended quite a bit. Any time the Steel cleared the ball long centrally, Corey Burke won it. Chambers also repeatedly sent long diagonal balls to Erik Ayuk on the right flank and, occasionally, Justin McMaster on the left. Primarily, Bethlehem attacked down the right channel when they built play.

In the 35th Steel minute, attacking mid Leo Fernandes dribbled horizontally into the center and curled a strong shot towards the upper 90 of the far post. The shot clanged back into the field of play. It was the Steel’s best scoring chance of the game.

At halftime, Orlando adjusted tactically to correct some of their defensive deficits. And the Steel’s pace was definitely slower. Possession in the half was more back-and forth than Steel-dominated. Shots for the half were six to two favoring the Steel.

In the 58th minute, Bethlehem’s Derrick Jones made a poor back pass to where he thought Taylor Washington should be rather than where he actually was. Orlando’s Lewis Neal commandeered it, penetrated on the dribble and punished the mistake, once again leaving Perella no chance.

After the second goal, Steel head coach Brendan Burke began to substitute his youngsters into the match, as pulling back two goals with tiring regulars seemed increasingly unlikely. Orlando coach Anthony Pulis also began to substitute, both to rest people but also to break up any rhythm the Steel might develop. Each team used all five available subs.

The most interesting Steel substitution was Amoy Brown in the 67th for Corey Burke at Striker. The 19-year-old Jamaican has grown physically since March’s scrimmage against Georgetown, demonstrated that he has learned some of the rudiments of hold up play, and threatened to get behind the Orlando backs several times.

Aside from Orlando’s second goal, the most interesting event of the second half was an Orlando offensive player being called for offside in stoppage time when Nick Bibbs was eight yards closer to the goal than the offender keeping him onside. The less said about officiating in the USL the better.

Three Points and a Roster Move

McKenzie’s progress: Burke commented after the game that teenager Mark McKenzie had played well. Perhaps, but it must also be said that he is not Ryan Richter. McKenzie overlapped Ayuk well and provided a serviceable vertex in right flank offensive triangles. But he attempted not one single cross. As teachers say, he has tremendous opportunity for future growth in this area. Monitoring his progress as he is converted to a right back will be interesting next season.

Bibbs progress: Nick Bibbs’ lack of experience as a center back showed periodically. With Richter to his right, his offensive distribution had the default option of giving it to the captain. Giving it to McKenzie had less favorable offensive results. Usually Bibbs got it right back. The Ardmore alum must improve his distribution this off-season.

Jones and hold-up: Derrick Jones is very good at winning balls in the central channel, but if there is not an outlet immediately available, he remains challenged by holding up play and waiting for opportunity to materialize. He consistently lost possession Sunday once he was double teamed.

Yosef Samuel joins Bethlehem: Burke confirmed Union Academy graduate Yosef Samuel was the twelfth USL contract player for this match, replacing Richter to satisfy the league minimum.

Bethlehem Steel FC
Matt Perrella; Mark McKenzie, Nick Bibbs, Bolu Akinyode, Taylor Washington; James Chambers©, Derrick Jones, Leo Fernandes (Yosef Samuel 62’); Eric Ayuk (Anthony Fontana 80’), Justin McMaster (Cole Missimo 73’), Cory Burke (Amoy Brown 67’)
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero (GK), Matt Real (LB), Josh Heard (Versatile)

Orlando City B
Mark Ridgers; Tyler Turner, Tommy Redding, Kyle McFadden, Zach Hayden; Lewis Neal, Pedro Ribeiro (Andrew Ribeiro 62’), Johnny Mendoza (Marius Obekop 46’), Harrison Heath (Devron Garcia 73’), Pierre Da Silva; Michael Cox (Hadji Barry 70’)
Substitutes not used: Jake Fenlason, Conor Donovan, Richie Laryea

Scoring Summary
OCB – 9’ Johnny Mendoza (Michael Cox)
OCB – 58’ Lewis Neal

Discipline summary
OCB – 32’ – Tyler Turner (Yellow Card)
OCB – 52’ – Kyle McFadden (Yellow Card)
OCB – 60’ – Pedro Ribeiro (Yellow Card)
OCB – 66’ – Andrew Ribeiro (Yellow Card)
BST – 83’ – Anthony Fontana (Yellow Card)
OCB – 89’ – Pierre Da Silva (Yellow Card)
BST – 89’ – James Chambers (Yellow Card)


  1. disappointing fizzle to the season. i didn’t watch USL before Steel. all over the place in terms of quality — on-field talent, stadia, fan support.
    was hoping there’d be more interest in Steel but the quality wasn’t there. once the A team players left, no real identity.
    as a spectator, Lehigh is acceptable but a better commitment from the organization is needed.

  2. Frustrating season. Definitely could have made the playoffs. Wasted opportunities. Lack of scoring at home was aggravating. However I had a lot of fun going to all the games this season. Will be renewing for next year. The crowds were decent and would have been better in terms of size and energy had the team played better. Goodman is a perfectly acceptable venue. The organization clearly got better as the season went on. The first game it seemed like nobody was in charge of gameday operations but yesterday everything was well-run, they had giveaways, lots of groups, activities for kids, on-field stuff at halftime, and t-shirts being thrown into the crowd. Already looking forward to April.

  3. What bothers me most about steel is their lack of announcing player transactions to the public. They never announced
    1. Samir Badr leaving
    2. The signing of Matt Perrella
    3. The recent signing of Yosef Samuel
    *I’m sure I’m missing a couple more*

    It will be a frustrating off-season if this trend continues

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