Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel FC 0 – Charleston Battery 1

photo courtesy USL

Romario Williams of the Charleston Battery buried a low, powerful instep drive off the near post from 25 yards out in the 32nd minute to defeat Bethlehem Steel FC before a rain-reduced crowd of local school children at Goodman Stadium on Thursday.

Announced attendance was 2,971, an excellent turnout for the Education Day 11:00 AM start had the weather not changed many plans.

The Steel held possession 59% of the time, but put only one shot on target in 90 minutes, and that shot was not their best chance to score.  Because James Chambers’ 91st minute curler towards the opposite upper corner hit the bar and bounced over, that best chance does not count as a shot on target.

The Battery assume sole possession of first place in the east at 7-1-2.

Bethlehem remain outside the playoff picture at 3-6-0, now lying twelfth.  They next play increasingly bitter rival Harrisburg this coming Sunday at 5 PM at Goodman Stadium. Harrisburg will be Bethlehem’s third game in nine days, a fact that seemed reflected in their second-half legs on today’s soggy pitch.

Charleston are masters of solidly defending their own third, allowing the opponent to possess the ball without danger in the midfield, and sending numbers forward on the counterattack.

Had it not been for excellent play from Steel goalkeeper Jake McGuire who saved six of the Battery’s seven shots on target, the score could easily have been a blowout.  One save late in the first half against Williams in particular stood out as outstanding, a close range reactive instinct that is a no-brainer candidate for USL save of the week.

The difference in the game is that Charleston has a striker,  … and the Steel have individuals of promising potential who play striker.

Three points

Professional debuts:  Each side started a player making his professional debut.  Atlanta United loaned Superdraft second overall pick Miles Robinson to their independent affiliate Charleston to deputize for suspended center back Forest Lasso.   The Union’s Academy saw Dawson McCartney, a senior committed to Dartmouth start at center midfielder in place of the injured Chris Wingate.  The contrast illustrates perfectly the differing developmental strategies of the two organizations, each calling on a major institutional asset to cover its absence.

Differing organizational strategies: An additional contrast is that as is customary for the Union-owned Steel, all Union loanees started, specifically Ken Tribbett at center back next to Hugh Roberts, leaving pacier academy senior Mark McKenzie on the bench.  For independent affiliate Charleston coach Mike Anhauser, 17-year-old Atlanta United midfielder Chris Goslin saw no game minutes.

A serious query:  Last year the season divided into three phases.

  • the Steel’s early games were to provide seasoning for Union “benchies” to begin to push starters, an example from this year is Giliano Wijnaldum. or possibly Marcus Epps and Adam Najem in the future.
  • Then there was a period of real progress as the group gelled and begane to produce some points.
  • And then the unfortunate disruption of the defense that torpedoed the progress.

A key move in generating the offense during the middle period of progress was playing James Chambers at attacking center midfielder.  PSP agrees firmly with coach Burke that it is not his idea spot, all other things being equal.

But Cory Burke’s energy is no longer disrupting other teams as much as it had at the number 10.  He is no longer a surprise, and the wonderfully energetic Jamaican may be wearing down a bit in spite of his courageous heart.   Might it be time to shift the captain forward, especially against quality defenses late in games?  He produced the only serious chance to score today, the only time the Battery keeper was  beaten.


Bethlehem Steel: Jake McGuire*; Aaron Jones*, Hugh Roberts, Ken Tribbett*, Matt Real; James Chambers Ó, Dawson McCartney** (Josue Monge** 73’); Chris Nanco (Santi Moar 84’), Cory Burke, Yosef Samuel (Amoy Brown 62’); Seku Conneh.  *Union loanee, **Academy Player.  Unused substitutes: Tomas Romero**; Mark McKenzie**, Charlie Reymann, Matt Mahoney.

Charleston Battery:  Alex Tambakis*; Skylar Thomas, Taylor Mueller Ó, Miles Robinson*, O’Brian Woodbine; Maikel Chang (Jeffrey Otoo 89’), Justin Portillo, Neveal Hackshaw, Kotaro Higashi (Dante Marini 73’); Ataulla Guerra; Romario Williams (Heviel Cordoves 77’ ).   *Atlanta United Loanee.  Unused substitutes: Odisnel Cooper; Quinton Griffith, Ricky Garbanzo, Chris Goslin*.

Scoring Summary

Charleston Battery:   Romario Williams 31:44

Disciplinary Summary

Bethlehem Steel

Josue Monge 76:24 professional foul

Cory Burke      87:14 foul

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