USL Match report

Match report: Nashville SC 1-2 Bethlehem Steel

Photo courtesy of USL

Bethlehem Steel traveled south to The Music City Saturday night and hit all the right notes as they downed Nashville SC 2-1.

The game got off to a shaky start for the boys in blue as defender Matt Real had to be carried off the pitch. In the third minute, Real lunged into a challenge and felt his left leg buckle on the turf laid over top First Tennessee Park’s baseball infield. The young fullback appeared to be in a great deal of pain as he made way for Prosper Chiluya.

Despite the early setback, coach Burke’s side came out strong and immediately put the hosts on their heels with a few chances. Stringing together passes when in possession and maintaining a high press off the ball, the Steel used their energy to really dominate the first quarter of an hour.

Bethlehem’s dominance came to fruition in the 24th minute when winger Chris Nanco unleashed a thunderous strike that wrong-footed Nashville’s veteran keeper Matt Pickens. Almost reluctant to play the ball near the bumpy baseball diamond, the Steel pushed up field as central midfielders Adam Najem and James Chambers linked up nicely to switch the point of attack. The play made its way to Nanco who managed to pick out a pocket of space on a crowded right side of the pitch and fire a shot on a goal from the top of the box.

The following 10 minutes were spent much more open as both teams went back and forth, going end to end. Nashville, a team that has only conceded 4 goals at home on the season, wouldn’t lie down without a fight. Unfortunately for the first year USL club, midfielder Ismaila Jome brought a touch too much energy and fight to the game. Between the 27th and 35th minutes, the Gambian recorded not one but two yellow cards to earn himself an early trip to the showers.

Bethlehem Steel continued to run with this flipped script through the conclusion of the first half, not letting off the metaphorical throttle.

The second half brought a slightly different story line and new set of challenges for Bethlehem as they allowed Nashville to slowly grow back into the match.

Either there was something really special about Nashville SC coach Gary Smith’s halftime speech or the players got a hold of a bottle of Michael Jordan’s secret stuff from the 1996 film Space Jam. The 10 men Nashville side appeared to be a completely team in the second half, looking much more energetic. Bethlehem was still afforded their usual amount of possession, but the hosts were able to spring a counter attack almost at will throughout the entire half.

Perhaps the biggest difference was a substitution in the 62nd minute when forward Alan Winn parted the field for Kris Tyrpak. Winn, known for his exceptional pace, looked to be a shadow of his usual self as 17 year old Ben Ofeimu appeared to have him in his back pocket all night. Tyrpak, however, was the catalyst for just about everything Nashville produced going forward. Providing dangerous deliveries and stretching the field, Tyrpak’s influence made all the difference.

Until the 84th minute the score remained the same as Bethlehem were hanging on by a tread. Struggling to clear their lines defensively and almost incapable of maintaining any form of possession in attack were the Steel. Bringing the ball through nearly the same channel Chris Nanco and his side took in the opening goal, Nahsville were able to snatch a goal and put themselves minutes away from a stealing crucial point. South African Lebo Moloto found a dashing run made by centerback Justin Davis right through the heart of the Steel defense.

As made evident by his celebration when the scorer slid into home plate, it appeared that the home side would be ‘safe’ with a draw. As opposed to counting their blessings and setting up shop to see the game out with a draw, Nashville continued to charge forward looking for a winner. Their usual three man backline turned into a two man line, leaving themselves exposed to the fresh legs of substitutes Drew Skundrich and  Santi Moar.

Deep into stoppage time, the two second half substitutes for the Steel brought the ball from box to box to spark a four on four counter attack. Stundrich laid off a touch pass to Marcus Epps on the left wing who then found a wide open Chris Nanco at the six yard box. That was the beginning of a series of wild events in front of the keeper Pickens as he got a strong hand across to deny Nanco’s second goal, and yet another to stuff Skundrich. With Pickens scrambling, a bouncing ball landed at the feet of Adam Najem. The man in his first game back since last week’s international call-up from Afghanistan was the beneficiary in a moment of chaos as he slotted home a goal into the keeperless goalmouth. The goal secured all three points for the Steel.

That’s six wins out of seven for Bethlehem and they now hold sole possession of 5th place in USL’s Eastern Conference.

Bethlehem return to action in the Lehigh Valley on Sunday, September 2nd against in-state foes Penn FC.



Three points

1) Goals, goals, goals

Chris Nanco’s first half goal was the 47th scored by a Steel player this year, a Bethlehem USL record. Najem’s winner extended that record to 48.

2) Adam Najem

Najem logged a terrific 90 minute performance after making his international debut for Afghanistan in Kabul against Palestine last week. Oh, he got tonight’s winner, too. Not a bad week.

3) USL Standings

With the win and all three points Bethlehem move two points clear of Indy Eleven, whom only managed a draw today, for sole possession of 5th place. Indy has a few games in hand, however, but the Steel have a massive goal differential advantage which could come into play.



Nashville SC:

Matt Pickens; Justin Davis, Liam Doyle, Bradley Bourgeois; Ismaila Jome, Michael Reed (C)(Matt Lagrassa), Bolu Akinyode, Taylor Washington, Lebo Moloto; Alan Winn (Kris Tyrpak), Ropapa Mensah (Tucker Hume)

Substitutes not used: CJ Cochran, London Woodberry, Kosuke Kimura, Robin Shroot

Bethlehem Steel:

Jack McGuire; Matt Real (Prosper Chiluya), Matt Mahoney, Ben Ofeimu, Olivier Mbaizo; James Chambers (C), Adam Najem, Chris Nanco, Marcus Epps, Brenden Aaronson(Drew Skundrich); Faris (Santi Moar)

Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, AJ Paterson, Brandon Aubrey, Aidan Apodaca


Bethlehem 24′ Chris Nanco (James Chambers)

Nashville 84′ Justin Davis (Lebo Moloto)

Bethlehem 90 +3 Adam Najem


Nashville 27′ Ismaila Jome (yellow)

Nashville 32′ Ismaila Jome (yellow/red)

Bethlehem 45′ Olivier Mbaizo (yellow)

One Comment

  1. cmentarz to cmentarz
    Dla nas to codziennosc ale jestem w stanie zrozumiec tych ludzi. Nie tak dawno temu sama chcialam zapalic swieczki na grobie prapradziadków na terenie dzisiejszej Ukrainy. 
    Prawdziwym szokiem byl dla mnie fakt, ze na terenie dawnego cmentarza znajduje sie…plac targowy, a wladze ukrainskie nic z tym faktem nie zrobily, nie robia i zrobic nie zamierzaja.

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