USL Match report

Match Report: Bethlehem Steel FC 2 – 1 Ottawa Fury

photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel

Bethlehem Steel FC fought back from an early own goal to defeat the Ottawa Fury 2-1 with two second half goals in their first ever visit to the Canadian capital city’s TD Place.

The Steel are only the second team this season to win on Ottawa’s home pitch. At 9-8-3 with 30 points, Bethlehem remains seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, three points ahead of New York Red Bulls II and one behind FC Cincinnati with two games in hand against each. Thirty points is more than they earned all last season.

It is also worth noting that this is the latest in the season Bethlehem Steel FC have won a game, either by the calendar or by the number of matches played.

The match was played initially in a 15 miles-an-hour wind that blew along the length of the field in 66-degree temperatures.

The Steel played against the wind in the first half, which sometimes blew the ball out of position on free kicks. By the end of the half, they had adjusted to keeping possession while playing against the wind, something Ottawa was not forced to learn. The lesson may have been helpful in the second half as the Steel held the wind guage, even though it seemed to drop some.

The final general point is that the Steel played with a 16-year-old Academy player in goal, an 18-year-old Union homegrown signing loanee at left center back, a 17-year-old Union homegrown pre-signing loanee at attacking center mid, and three unused academy players on the bench. All others were from the Steel’s own roster. And unlike the first game in which they used seven Union loanees and only drew, this cohesive Bethlehem Steel group won. They bear witness to the benefits of team cohesion, self-belief, and grit.

Scoring

Auston Trusty, the Steel’s left center back, lightly grazed a powerful shot by Fury striker Tucker Hume, and his deflection in turn kissed the inside of the near post to cross the goal line and put the Canadians ahead in the seventh minute.

After a first half that saw only one shot on goal each by both teams, the Steel’s in first-half stoppage time, the game opened up and the Steel netted two. The first came in the 66th minute from right flank midfielder Chris Nanco running onto a ball in the central channel on a perfect, subtle aerially-delivered assist by starting striker Cory Burke. The second came in the 81st when Santi Moar punished an error in front of the open Fury net. It was the first time this season that the Canadian side has lost after scoring the opening goal.

Both sides had other second-half chances to score, but shots either missed the net or were saved. The Steel managed periods of controlled possession in the second half that looked like intelligent soccer. Ottawa has fewer such periods but also maintained greater sustained possession. The wind dying down helped both sides.

Three Points

An example of clear improvement: Matt Mahoney played a solid game as the right outside back for the Steel in place of the suspended Aaron Jones. He delivered an excellent key pass in the first half. He missed sending Chris Nanco behind the defense for a shot by inches. He was not trying such passes last February.

Yosef Samuel also showed improved, coming on for Chris Wingate in the 79th minute. Anthony Fontana dropped back to Wingate’s defensive spot from attacking center mid where Samuel replaced him. Samuel’s energy and opportunism helped create the Callum Irving’s goalkeeper error that Moar struck home as the game winner. Samuel seemed for his few minutes a credible substitute at the number ten. He brought pace and positioning at a time when both sides were tiring. Last February his coach was not yet confident in the reliability of his defensive play.

A subtle endorsement by the Captain: Also noteworthy, Captain James Chambers was ranging forward with a freedom unprecedented when playing next to Chris Wingate, a first for that specific combination. Wingate is not a hulking lumberjack suited to tussle with USL tall trees. But his positioning is quite solid, as is his reading of likely opposing intent. NYCFC’s former draft pick is proving himself with the Steel.

Staying put for now: Maurice Edu did not travel to Canada. The Edu meeting Jim Curtin referenced in his press conference must have decided it wasn’t a good idea. Nyk Sessock did not travel either. His soft-tissue knock must not yet be match-ready.

Lineups:

Ottawa –Callum Irving; Eddie Edward, Shane McEleney, Andrae Campbell, Ramon Martin del Campo; Gerardo Bruna, Lance Rozeboom; Carl Haworth, Steevan Dos Santos (Jonathan Barden 32’), Azake Luboyera (Adonijah Reid 71’); Tucker Hume (Sito Seoane 71’). Unused substitutes: David Paulmin; Kyle Venter, Jamar Dixon, Sergio Manesio.

Bethlehem –Tomas Romero**, Matt Mahoney, Hugh Roberts, Auston Trusty*, Matthew Real; James Chambers (C), Chris Wingate (Yosef Samuel 79’); Chris Nanco (Charlie Reymann 90+2’), Anthony Fontana*, Santi Moar; Cory Burke. Unused substitutes: Kris Shakes**; Brendan Aaronson**, Seth Kuhn**, Josh Heard, Amoy Brown.

Scoring Summary:

Ottawa              7th minute      Auston Trusty (own goal)
Bethlehem     66th minute      Chris Nanco (Cory Burke)
Bethlehem     81st minute      Santi Moar

Disciplinary Summary:

Ottawa            36th minute      Yellow Card      Gerardo Bruna (foul)
Bethlehem     42nd minute      Yellow Card      Matt Real (foul)
Ottawa            52nd minute      Yellow Card      Callum Irving (foul)
Bethlehem     68th minute      Yellow Card      Anthony Fontana (foul)
Ottawa            84th minute      Yellow Card      Shane McEleney (foul)
Bethlehem     90th +6 min      Yellow Card      Auston Trusty (time wasting)

Referee:          Dave Barrie

One Comment

  1. A tale of two half certainly. In the first period they seemed too eager to bomb balls forward. The few times it was successful, the receiving player was left isolated with no options other than take on multiple defenders.
    .
    The second half was better. Burke really started to assert himself on the game showing his power and pace and looked like the best player on the pitch. By coming back to receive the ball and then driving forward he brought his teammates into play and really opened up the offense.
    .
    Matt Real finally looked like the player we thought he was when the Steel gave him a pro contract before he graduated.
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    Trusty and Roberts were ok in the back. Both had some shaky moments. Trusty still needs more seasoning and physical development before he’s ready to be thrown into the deep end.
    .
    Fontana was solid. Not a ton of touches and felt invisible for stretches. Alot of that was the offense in general seemingly a bit confused, but you would like to see the coach try to use Fontana to build or at least for Fontana to check back and demand more of the ball. You can see the technical ability is superior to everyone save maybe Moar, but seems to be a lack of ideas with the ball.
    .
    What’s up with Seku not traveling? IIRC he didn’t travel to Canada earlier in the season either. Strange.
    .
    Not the prettiest game but I thought they did well to battle back from the early deficit to earn 3 and keep themselves in great playoff position down the stretch.

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