Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 0-2 Orlando City B

Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Steel

Bethlehem Steel played two different halves of soccer yesterday against visiting Orlando City B, losing the overall match 2-0.

They grew to dominate the game in the first half but failed to score, holding the visitors from Florida without a shot on goal in the first half. Orlando goalkeeper Earl Edwards made several fine saves and played well enough that Bethlehem head coach Brendan Burke praised him after the game.

Orlando striker Richie Laryea scored his first two professional goals in the 49th and 72nd minutes. The first goal finished an excellent run-and-feed by right flank midfielder Austin Martz after a Steel defensive positioning error allowed the medium-distance shot that beat keeper John McCarthy cleanly to the far post.

The first 20 minutes of the first half were even, played primarily between the penalty boxes, with the game’s first shot – off target – coming from Orlando’s Lewis Neal in the 16th minute. The Steel’s first shot came four minutes later with an Adam Najem pass to Cory Burke, whose attempt was blocked by the keeper.

The Steel fired six more shots in the rest of the half with three on target, dominating the game as they tried repeatedly to find the green space available behind Orlando’s restraining line.

At halftime, the Lion Cubs’ head coach Anthony Pulis made three adjustments:

  • He used his second substitution – the first had gone for a pulled hamstring in the 28th minute – to replace Zach Carroll at center back with Conor Donovan to try to inhibit Cory Burke’s freelancing forays in the offensive half.
  • He used motivational techniques of an unknown nature to get quality veteran flank midfielder Austin Martz to stop being controlled by Steel left back Giliano Wijnaldum.
  • He tasked his two strikers, Richie Laryea and Albert Dikwa, with high pressing the Steel’s outside backs to end their freedom to pick out Burke, Seku Conneh, Fabian Herbers, and occasionally Marcus Epps for long passes in behind the defense. Freedom was ended, as was the service. As is no surprise, the Steel center backs Hugh Roberts and Auston Trusty were not distribution alternatives. Neither was Derrick Jones, playing for Bethlehem at defensive midfield for the first time since the beginning of last season.

All of Pulis’s moves were effective. Cutting off service stifles attacks, and Orlando did it effectively in the second half, imitating what Conneh and Burke have been doing to opponents since the opening game against Rochester.

Steel coach Burke tried a tactical adjustment in the 75th minute to try for a score. Going to three in the back, he spread Burke and Conneh out wide to the flanks and brought Marcus Epps and Santi Moar – who was on for Fabian Herbers – into the middle stacked one behind the other. But Edwards kept coming up big to preserve the clean sheet.

Three points
  • Physical play: Referee Hendrik Carlsson worked hard to discourage physical play, particularly in the second half. He clearly felt the Steel were the prime offenders as five of their game total of six were brandished in the second half. Orlando received two for the entire game.
  • Wijnaldum: Giliano Wijnaldum showed an extremely long throw-in and the ability to serve balls precisely into the box. He also showed that a quality USL flank midfielder, when motivated, could play very well against him.
  • Derrick Jones distribution: Derrick Jones needs to acquire the ability to distribute the ball forward at long distance. The weakness was masked effectively for the first few games of the Union’s season but is now exposed and must be addressed. Given the character Jones shows on the field, it will be. The only question is how soon.

BSFC: John McCarthy*; Aaron Jones* (Yosef Samuel 78’), Hugh Roberts, Auston Trusty*, Giliano Wijnaldum*; Derrick Jones*, Adam Najem*: Fabian Herbers*(Santi Moar 78’), Cory Burke, Marcus Epps*; Seku Conneh. Unused Substitutes: Matt Freese**; Matt Majoney, Charlie Reymann, Chris Wingate, Josh Heard.

*Union loanees (8) **Academy player

OCB: Earl Edwards; Kevin Alston (Scott Thomsen ’32), Zach Hayden, Fernando Timbro, Zach Carroll (Conor Donovan 46’); Lewis Neal, Tony Rocha (Jordan Schweitzer 75’), Pierre Da Silva, Austin Martz; Richie Laryea, Albert Dikwa. Unused Substitutes: Jake Fenlason; Danny Deakin, Michael Cox, Ben Polk

Scoring summary

49th Richie Laryea (Austin Martz) OCB
72nd Richie Laryea OCB

Disciplinary summary

36th       Richie Laryea           OCB Foul
45th + 1 Auston Trusty          BSFC Foul
48th       Cory Burke               BSFC Foul
68th       Aaron Jones             BSFC Foul
70th       Giliano Wijnaldum BSFC Foul
81st        Derrick Jones           BSFC Foul
87th        Zach Hayden           OCB Delay
88th        Seku Conneh           BSFC Dissent


  1. So the two deep guys can’t score either.

    • Actually a Trusty header, when he was upfield for a corner kick, forced an excellent save from Edwards, if Trusty and Roberts are the two deep guys you mean. But yes, center backs do not normally score from the run of play.
      A corollary of my distribution point is to project into the future – who knows when or if – Jack Elliott playing next to Josh Yaro, or in front of Yaro at DCM. Then you have attack-starting potential, perhaps, from 4 of your 5 starting primary defenders. At that point it becomes sensible to try to start play out of the back on the ground, the way Viera wants in New York.

      • No, I’m not taking a shot at Trusty. I meant the “two deep” at every position comment. They had 8 Union loanees and didn’t get it done. Doesn’t make one feel the answer is down on the farm for the senior team.

      • Fwiw, i read deep as you meant it

  2. Where is Matt Real? Is he badly hurt?

  3. Joel Pterosaur says:

    I don’t know what it is with refs and Philly sports teams, but the first half the ref really blew it. The clearest penalty I’ve seen in a long time, didn’t play the ball AT ALL.

    • I actually thought that was a brilliant challenge by the GK (if that’s what you’re referring to) got ball first and the follow through was natural. Hard challenge for sure, but in my eyes, fair.

  4. WeAreSteel 2K17 says:

    No midfield presence. Looked like a 4-2-4 but the 2 were also wide. Ref was poor as always. McCarthy looked good. Overall the team IS playing better than last season. So we’ve got that going for us…


    The Union – or whoever is actually running the front office of this club – need to do a better job of marketing. It’s the same 3.5k fans every game. That’s not so bad but it could be closer to 5.5k (and upwards depending on weather, etc.). Their limited ads are only being seen by the people who already know about the games. No ads in the paper. Billboards don’t have website or match info. Only “We Are Steel.” They aren’t even advertising or selling merchandise at ArtsQuest which is at the site of the actual Bethlehem Steel plant.

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