USL - Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 2-2 Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Photo Credit: USL Championship

In a physical match where desperation was running a bit high in both teams, Bethlehem Steel managed to put up two goals and come out with a point at home.

Pittsburgh opened up the scoring first early, in the fourth minute. The Riverhounds’ longest tenured player, Kevin Kerr got his first goal of the season after Pittsburgh completely dismantled Bethlehem’s defense. Kerr was left wide open on the six yard line and easily buried it behind Carlos Miguel Coronel on the far post.

Bethlehem equalized it 15 mintues later with Faris’ first goal of the season. A cross from Issa Rayyan allowed Faris to head it past Pittsburgh keeper, Kyle Morton and Rayyan notched his first career assist. Not long after their equalizer, the Steel took the lead with a shot from Michee Ngalina that rocketed to the back of the net in the 36th. This was Ngalina’s first goal of the season and was assisted by Zach Zandi, making it Zandi’s first career assist as well.

In a match where Pittsburgh’s height was a concern, especially on set pieces, it was well-addressed in the first half. The Riverhounds’ had four corners in the first half, all by Kerr, and all defended well by Bethlehem, eliminating any real aerial threat by Pittsburgh. Chambers was strong in the air all during the match, even after being stepped on in the 39th. Kerr’s third corner kick resulted in a scramble in the box that led to a hand ball called on the Steel and a penalty kick was awarded for Pittsburgh. Coronel came up huge on the penalty kick save once again for the Steel, denying Pittsburgh the opportunity to tie the match right before the end of the first half.

Bethlehem started the second half with more composure than at the beginning of the match. The Steel were making better passes, controlling more of the ball and creating some stronger chances after halftime. Of course, they also had two potential penalty kick opportunities in favor of the Steel, but were not awarded any penalty kicks this match. Throughout the second half, the Steel began to slip a bit defensively, allowing more chances for Pittsburgh. The Riverhounds’ height became an issue in the second half. While Kerr’s fifth corner kick was uneventful, it did lead to Pittsburgh’s sixth corner, taken by Kenardo Forbes, and resulted in Pittsburgh’s tying goal off the head of 6’6″ Joe Greenspan.

Once the Riverhounds tied up the match, there were a few strong chances for both sides. First, Chambers had a goal line save to deny Pittsburgh’s Velarde the opportunity to score the game winner right after he came onto the pitch. Shortly after, Ngalina missed his chance to score the game winner, hitting it just wide after beating two defenders in the box in the 81st minute. Then a few minutes later, Anthony Fontana hit his shot well over the crossbar after receiving a beautiful cross from Cortes in the 87th minute. But ultimately, the battle for the keystone state ended in a tie, giving both teams a much needed point.

Match attendance was 480, with a mix of Bethlehem and Pittsburgh fans in the stadium, including two opposing drumming and chanting groups.

Three Points

Physicality. The battle for the keystone state is always a physical one. It was a chippy match at first, that progressed into worse fouls and yellow cards later. At first, the younger Steel side look unprepared and unequipped to handle the physicality of their much larger Riverhound opponents. But after about 20 minutes, Bethlehem was able to dish it out themselves, earning some words with the ref and an early yellow card.

Pittsburgh’s midfield formation. Five midfielders is a lot. Bethlehem was stretched a bit thin in the midfield, taking the first 20 minutes to adjust after allowing an early goal. Kerr was able to find plenty of space in the box when the Steel drifted to their right to try to mark every man dressed in yellow. The early goal was a wake up call to adjust to the 3-5-2 formation accordingly, and eventually the Steel got the hang of it, strengthening their backline.

Late substitute. One late, lone Steel substitute came on in the 90th minute. Playing only two minutes, Shanyder Borgelin was not all that impactful in the match. His one moment was beating goalkeeper Kyle Morton at the top of the box with some quick footwork, but was then stripped of the ball by a Pittsburgh defender. Why did Burke not use his subs? While Burke has been changing the lineups a bit every match, it hasn’t been quite as much as last year. So far, four Steel players have played every match and two have started and played every minute. Burke still has plenty of young players on his squad, so maybe this season he’s trying a different way to develop his young players to get them more experience and match fit. Or maybe it was because he was happy with the effort his side was showing and the offense being generated.

Lineups

Steel (4-2-3-1): Carlos Miguel Coronel, Matt Real, Walter Cortes, Issa Rayyan, Ben Ofeimu, Anthony Fontana, Michee Ngalina, Chavany Willis, Zach Zandi, James Chambers (c), Faris (Shanyder Borgelin 90′). Unused substitutes: Steve Kingue, Selmir Misic, Kristopher Shakes, Cole Turner

Riverhounds (3-5-2): Kyle Morton, Joseph Greenspan, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Tobi Adewole, Mouhamed Dabo (Anthony Velarde 78′), Ryan James, Kenardo Forbes (c), Kevin Kerr (Christian Volesky 71′), Jordan Dover, Steevan Dos Santos, Neco Brett. Unused substitutes: Uchenna Uzo, Caleb Smith, Noah Franke, Sammy Kahsai, Ben Lundgaard.

Goals

PIT: Kevin Kerr (4′)

BET: Faris (21′) A: Issa Rayyan

BET: Michee Ngalina (36′) A: Zach Zandi

PIT: Joe Greenspan (60′)

Cards

BET: Chavany Willis (29′) Yellow

BET: Faris (44′) Yellow

BET: Chambers (70′) Yellow

PIT: Jordan Dover (73′) Yellow

Officials

Ref: Jose Lara

Assistant Refs: Jonah Kind, Szczepan Dziewa

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