Philadelphia Union II / Report / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 0-1 Memphis 901

Photo courtesy Memphis 901 FC

On a weekend when both the Union and Bethlehem had anorexic rosters due to international call-ups, suspensions, pending registration paperwork, and injuries, Bethlehem Steel lost to Memphis 901 1-0.

In the 58th minute, Steel left center back Ben Ofeimu headed an aerial pass back to goalkeeper Matt Freese that was badly under weighted. Memphis striker Rashawn Dally easily intercepted it and scored one of the easier goals of his young career. Freese had no chance.

In the first 20-25 minutes Memphis seemed to lay back and evaluate the Steel.  Bethlehem had most of the possession and the game was played primarily in Bethlehem’s middle and offensive thirds. Memphis did not challenge Steel center backs Ofeimu and Mark McKenzie for the ball. Neither McKenzie on the right and Ofeimu on the left showed long range passing in their initiations of Bethlehem offensive forays after overhitting one or two each as they attempted to expose 901 FC’s high restraining line.

The lack of accurate deep threats from the center backs turned the game from one Steel FC dominated into a more open, fairly even contest that flowed back and forth excitingly.

Memphis began to push forward and challenge the center backs, forcing James Chambers to drop deeper than normal to supplement the ability to penetrate vertically or on the diagonal.  But in lying deeper Chambers reduced the home team’s ability to combine in small spaces. This meant Bethlehem was no longer dominating, and Memphis began to sustain spells of possession in the Steel’s defensive third.

With a half hour gone the match seemed up for grabs with Memphis generating a few actual shots on goal while Bethlehem twice hit posts.

After the defensive breakdown, Steel manager Brendan Burke made three offensive-minded substitutions in the 63rd, 72nd, and 84th minutes, but only in the 79th was there a dangerous situation that the Tennesseans did not handle. A cross from Issa Rayyan, one of the subs, beat Patrick Bohui’s marker, but the 15-year-old fellow substitute mishit the opportunity outside rather inside the wide open frame.

And in stoppage time Shanyder Borgelin’s big aggressive body managed to cause Memphis’s keeper Jeff Caldwell to spill a cross, but Wes Charpie blocked the academy man’s on-frame put-back of the spillage in the ninety fifth minute.

When Memphis was passively absorbing pressure and evaluating their opponent, the power pressure system worked well.  Once they came out to play, and particularly after they deliberately widened their offensive spacing in the game’s last 55 or 60 minutes, Bethlehem’s ability to cover ground and create errors that had been producing attacks became less consistent.  Many Steel players need to develop more range and endurance.

Memphis manager Tim Mulqueen clearly prepared for the speed of Bethlehem strikers Faris and Michee Ngalina, placing his own Abdi Mohamed at left back to cover the Congolese speedster, and using Mark Burch and Todd Pratzner and an offside trap to contain the Cameroonian. Each Bethlehem man produced shots, but neither produced truly dangerous ones.

As an anonymous fan commented after the game during the exit, when is Bethlehem going to score a goal at home?

They’ll have their next chance on Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m., as they play host to a winless Pittsburgh Riverhounds side that will be urgently seeking their first win.

Unofficially, the Bethlehem squad’s average age weighted by actual minutes played against Memphis was 21.0.

Brotherly Game reports announced attendance as 433. The East End Army drum and its friends was also in attendance.

Three Points:

The first-team DP: Marco Fabian was in uniform on the field during warmups , but ended by running wind sprints while his team mates had withdrawn to exchange warm-ups for game gear, and took no further part in the proceedings not occupying a space on the bench.

Jamoi Topey: Often-times absence demonstrates the full dimension of what a specific player brings to his side. The Jamaican beanpole is comfortable playing the left side in a way that Ofeimu was not on the night, and his long-range distribution was only replaced by  Chambers dropping back between the center backs in the fashion of last season’s shape and system. It seemed telling that towards the end of the match Ofeimu and McKenzie switched sides and Bethlehem began to generate a bit more offensive pressure.  Of course Memphis was overtly parking its bus by that point.

The new system: As has been said elsewhere in these posts, defending with only two deep demands perfection from the deep-lying duo. The goal-creating error saw absolutely no one remotely close enough to intervene.


Bethlehem (4-2-2-0-2) L-R: Matt Freese*; Walter Cortes, Ben Ofeimu, Mark McKenzie*, Olivier Mbaizo*; James Chambers ©, Chavany Willis (Issa Rayyan 72′); Zach Zandi (Shanyder Borgelin^ 84′), Anthony Fontana*; Michee Ngalina, Faris (Patrick Bohui^ 63′). Unsued substitutes: Kris Shakes^; Marco Fabian*, Steve Kingue, Jack DeVries^,  .    The rest: Questionable: Saed Diaz.   International call-up: Jamoi Topey    Registration issue: Yomi Scintu     U17s (presumed): Selmir Miscic.          *=Union Player   ^=Academy player

Memphis: (4-2-3-1):Jeff Caldwell; Abdi Mohamed, Mark Burch ©, Todd Praetzner, Wes Charpie; Dan Metzger, Ewan Grandison; , Duane Muckette (Jacob Hauser-Ramsey 90+4′), Leston Paul (Tristan Hodge 57′), Morgan Hackworth;  Rashawn Dally (Junior Sandoval 85′). Unused Substitutes: Scott Levene; Joshua Morton, Louis Bennett.

International Call-up: Adam Najem (Played Saturday, 23-March-2019 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)


Memphis         58th min.           Rashawn Dally


Bethlehem      28th minute     Yellow     Anthony Fontana (foul)

Memphis         79th minute     Yellow     Ewan Grandison (foul)


Ref: Luis Arroyo   AR1: Jeffrey Skinker   AR2: Tyler Wyrostek   4TH: Joshua Encarnacion


  1. Bethlehem always seems to lack a scoring bite. I think that makes sense because offensive understanding is the thing that is probably damaged the most by constantly changing lineups and new players.

    Fontana looks solid out there. I forgot he is still only 19. I think he can be the same type of player as Bedoya, a glue guy at the 8 who will do the running on both ends of the pitch but will never stand out or do anything spectacular. It’s easy to forget him since he seems to be going the way of Jones instead of the way of Aaronson, but I think he can still make a good MLS career for himself at worst.

    • Yeah. Fontana is still really young. Another year mostly with Steel is totally fine for him. I agree he’s a Bedoya type player, although he seems to have a higher attacking ceiling. Still really excited about him.

  2. Zizouisgod says:

    The pitch was really poor last night. Huge chunks were coming up in several areas. I’m not sure how they fix it with both teams playing there.

    If it were just the Union, they would have a stretch between 6/8 and 7/6 to really rework it, but Steel has a couple of mid-June matches there during that stretch.

    • We were at the Steel game last week too and it appeared to have the same issue as last night. Giant chunks of turf being torn up. The Memphis keeper removed a giant divot from the front of the net and threw it off the field. There was only one guy there last night working during the game and at halftime to fix it. That’s not enough. Noticed it at the Union game Saturday where players were fixing the turf at points. I’m not sure it is from over use at this point, but going forward that needs to be addressed as it becomes a safety issue.

    • Warm weather will fix it. The new turf hasn’t set roots yet.

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