Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel FC 2 – 0 New York Red Bulls II

Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem Steel FC defeated New York Red Bulls II 2-0 at Montclair State University Soccer Park Friday night.

The two sides continued their 2016 custom of posting clean sheets against each other, but this one was different. It was the Steel’s first win ever against the USL side that is physically closest to Lehigh.

In an irony that has to have Earnie Stewart chortling all the way to the party, former Red Bull Academy product Adam Najem scored his first professional goal in the 5th minute. It was a left-footed curler to the opposite post on an assist from Chris Nanco.

Stewart got to refill his drink when Najem chipped his first professional assist to Santi Moar in the 57th, which Moar in turn chipped over twice-helpless New York keeper Rafael Diaz.

The game was end-to-end from start to finish. Red Bull’s counter-pressing high press forced a high pace and prevented long stretches of possession by either side. Red Bulls II missed solid chances, and Steel goalkeeper Jake McGuire made excellent saves in about equal measure.

New York coach John Wolnyiec left his leading scorer Brandon Allen on the bench to start, as well as usual starter Zeiko Lewis. It was a rainy night, which may have influenced his choices. The Steel should expect to see both players in two weeks for the rematch at Goodman Stadium.

Steel head coach Brendan Burke made judicious, well-timed substitutions in the second half, bringing on Cory Burke for an increasingly frustrated, card-carrying Seku Conneh, Anthony Fontana for a tiring Santi Moar, and energetic Yosef Samuel for spent Chris Nanco on the verge of cramping.

The energy of all three produced fresh counterattacking energy into the New York third, giving the defense a moment or two to regroup, take a breath, and get back to it. A team includes its bench leadership, and tonight that was well-illustrated by the Steel.

The Steel rise to 6-6-1 on the season, with 19 points in the table. They lie 4th on Friday night, but many other sides have yet to play for the week, so the position is likely to change.

Burke has stated that his side is playing as well as it ever has in the franchise’s brief history, and he’s absolutely right. They have a two-game back-to-back road winning streak as part of their 3-0-1 sequence that corresponds with Ken Tribbett joining James Chambers in the double pivot.

Three points

Brighter lights, please: As a USL venue, Montclair State University Soccer Park is a work in progress. Brighter lights need to become a priority, as the darkness of the video imagery made it hard to track the ball on the screen when the camera shots were at a distance.

Brother versus brother: Adam Najem’s older brother, Red Bull defender David, came one Jake McGuire fingertip from matching his brother goal for goal in the second half.  Mother and Father Najem had a balancing act to perform.

Jamaica: PSP learned at Steel practice Thursday morning before the team left for north Jersey that Cory Burke would meet the team at their hotel. The New York commentators were a bit surprised that he played, having reported he had been travelling for 48 hours from Peru. They also reported that Coach Burke was very pleased with the communication from the Jamaican FA which had forecast accurately when Burke would arrive where. Cory Burke’s contribution in the final half hour was essential to maintaining the Steel’s success, essential.


Bethlehem: Jake McGuire*; Aaron Jones*, Hugh Roberts, Auston Trusty*, Charlie Reymann; James Chambers C., Ken Tribbett*; Chris Nanco (Yosef Samuel 77th), Adam Najem*, Santi Moar (Anthony Fontana 71st); Seku Conneh (Cory Burke 58th). Unused substitutes: Tomas Romero**; Matt Mahoney, Josh Heard, Amoy Brown. Union Loanee*, Academy Player**

New York: Rafael Diaz; David Najem, Hassan Ndam, David Abidor (Jordan Scarlett 67th), Justin Bilyeu (Ethan Kutler 58th); Dan Metzger, Arun Basuljevic; Florian Valot, Vincent Bezecourt, Douglas Martinez; Junior Flemmings (Brandon Allen 70th). Unused substitutes: Evan Louro; Tim Schmoll, Andrew Tinari, Zeiko Lewis,.

Scoring Summary:
Bethlehem:      Adam Najem (from Chris Nanco) 4:15
Bethlehem:      Santi Moar (from Adam Najem) 56:55

Disciplinary Summary:
New York:      Dan Metzger shirt tug       25:31
Bethlehem:     Seku Conneh shirt tug      30:00
New York:      Hassan Ndam foul              75:10
Bethlehem:     Jake McGuire delay           90:52
Bethlehem:     Yosef Samuel foul               92:25

Referee: Luis Arroyo


  1. Thanks for the report Tim.

  2. Zizouisgod says:

    It’s nice to know that it wasn’t just me struggling with the lights.

    It’s really nice to see academy players getting match minutes. I’m really hopeful that the USL continues to progress and ramps up the development of domestic players so we can see more US/Canadian players playing important roles on MLS teams.

  3. i watched the wrong match this weekend. thanks for the recap

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