USL Match report

Match report: Loudon United 3-3 Bethlehem Steel

Photo: Rob Simmons

Bethlehem Steel ended up with a single point on Friday night after a wild, back-and-forth contest with Loudon United FC finished 3-3.

The match — Loudon United’s home opener, hosted at parent club DC United’s Audi Field — saw the Steel take a 2-0 lead through a Michee Ngalina brace at minutes 31 and 32, go back ahead 3-2 in the 60th on a Faris penalty kick, but give up the equalizer in the 93rd minute to the determined home side.

Loudon had the preponderance of play for the first ten minutes, then Bethlehem ran rampant until minute 35 splitting the Virginians’ center backs repeatedly with vertical through balls.  Steel FC were clearly outplayed by the home side in the second half. To illustrate, Bethlehem completed only half as many passes in the second half as they did in the first.

While Loudon captain Kyle Murphy answered Ngalina’s brace with one of his own in the 37th and 49th, Loudon’s man of the match has to be goalkeeper Earl Edwards, Jr. who saved three Chavany Willis gilt-edged chances in minutes 25, 27, and 29. Had the Jamaican center midfielder scored one or more of his opportunities, the match likely would have been out of reach for Loudon.

Both of Murphy’s goals, while beautifully taken, resulted from individual Bethlehem defensive mistakes. Ben Ofeimu bit on a fake to the outside and gave up the inside for the successful first shot, and James Chambers left the ball behind in his haste to begin an attack on the second.

It should be noted that Derrick Jones played his best match of the season for Bethlehem. The Steel’s first-ever signing and first-ever promotion to the Union is a dangerous penetrator on the dribble at the USL level. In the 64th, after dribbling the baseline, he was taken down in the box, but the referee refused to give the visitors a deserved second penalty kick.

“The officials giveth; the officials taketh away.” Since this is Philadelphia sports, we will not finish the King James Bible paraphrase from the Book of Job with “Blessed be the name of the officials.”

Sharp-eyed fans will notice that Zach Zandi has not been mentioned, although he should be for the assist on Ngalina’s first. Probably Zandi’s productivity missed right wingback Issa Rayyan who remains in recovery from the hamstring injury suffered 18 days ago against Charlotte, since Zandi played primarily on the right side for the evening.

The match did see the return of Jamoi Topey from his groin strain. Interestingly, Topey played on the right with Ofeimu on the left, for the first time in either preseason or the regular season as far as can be recalled. The tall Jamaican had the assist on Ngalina’s second goal.

Bethlehem next hosts fellow MLS affiliate side Atlanta United 2 next Sunday, May 12. Kickoff at Talen Energy Stadium is at 6:00 p.m.

Three Points:

Concacaf U17 Championships: Sometime Bethlehem midfielder Jack De Vries, Loudon forward Griffin Yow, and Loudon midfielder Bryang Kayo are all with the U.S. U-17 national team at the tournament in Bradenton, FL that will qualify four teams for FIFA’s U-17 World Cup this fall in Brazil.

The new I-95 rivalry: The I-95 South rivalry has started more auspiciously than did its I-95 North compatriot four years ago. (New York Red Bulls 2 dismantled Bethlehem in New Jersey 4-0, scoring its first less than 20 seconds after tap-off on a Josh Yaro howler.) But the difference will mollify no one in Pennsylvania as two points were most definitely dropped.

The Seven: Not the Westerosi deities from Game of Thrones, but the number of teenagers starting for Brendan Burke.


Bethlehem: (4-2-2-0-2) (L-R) Tomas Romero^; Matt Real*, Jamoi Topey, Ben Ofeimu, Nate Harriel^ (Walter Cortes 90+2’); James Chambers ©, Derrick Jones*; Chavany Willis (Cole Turner^ 81’), Zach Zandi; Michee Ngalina, Faris (Saed Diaz 87’),. Unused Substitutes: Kris Shakes^; Steve Kingue, , Shanyder Borgelin, Yomi Scintu. The Rest: Questionable – Issa Rayyan (left hamstring 17 days ago), Selmir Miscic (lower abdomen strain). *=Union player ^=Academy player

Loudon: Earl Edwards, Jr.; Collin Verfurth (Omar Campos 85’), Peabo Doue, Harri Hawkins, Akeem Ward,; Andrew Lubain (Shinya Kadono 75’), Noah Pilato, Jack Jean-Baptiste; Connor Presley (Jack Villatoro 80’), Kyle Murphy, Orlando Sinclair. Unused Substitutes: Calle Brown; Allexon Saravia, Sandor Bustamante, Brennan Conger.


Bethlehem      31st         Michee Ngalina (Zach Zandi)
Bethlehem      32nd       Michee Ngalina (Jamoi Topey)
Loudon            37th        Kyle Murphy (Akeem Ward)
Loudon            49th        Kyle Murphy (Connor Presley)
Bethlehem      60th        Faris (penalty kick)
Loudon           90+3rd   Orlando Sinclair


Loudon            59th       Yellow Collin       Verfurth (foul)

Officials:      Ref: Mark Allatin      AR1: Jeffrey Skinker      AR2: Ben Pilgrim      4TH: Nickrod Fateh

One Comment

  1. Peanut Gallery says:

    Thanks for the summary. Clever references (Job and GoT)! You are good with words. 🙂

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