USL - Bethlehem Steel FC / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 1-4 Nashville

Photo Credit: Rob Simmons

The Bethlehem Steel lost to Nashville SC, 4-1 in McCarthy Stadium on Sunday evening. Bethlehem hasn’t won a match since April 13th; that’s seven matches without a win, with four of these being losses or draws at home. Their unfortunate streak continues.

Desperate for a win, the Steel started the match with some pace on La Salle’s fast moving turf. The club announced the change of venue last week, claiming that the new field hasn’t rooted and can have a negative impact on player safety and match quality, all true of Talen Energy Stadium’s pitch at the moment. The turf allowed for a faster game and both sides went back and forth, with several strong chances and near misses.

The game opened up in the 25th minute after a foul from Nashville’s Bradley Bourgeois right outside the box. Bethlehem capitalized on the free kick with a goal from James Chambers. Sinking a low shot in the right corner past Connor Sparrow, Chambers recorded his first goal of the season.

Just two minutes later, Nashville tied up the match off the head of former Union and Steel defender Ken Tribbett. After a cross from Lebo Moloto, Tribbett’s height was Bethlehem’s downfall as he redirected the ball past Carlos Miguel Coronel for his second goal of the season. For the rest of the first half the match was still back and forth, and after 45 minutes, tied at one apiece.

The second half started off quickly as well, with Bethlehem almost scoring their second of the match after Faris’ strong run down the left hand side of the field. Sparrow made a quick save to push Faris’ shot wide of the net for an uneventful corner kick for the Steel. Another run down the same side just two minutes later had the same result, with a few Steel players scrambling to get a shot off in front of the box after Nashville’s back line made multiple blocks.

Shortly after the Steel’s beautiful sideline runs, Coronel was forced to make a big save, coming out to block Nashville’s first chance of the second half in the 54th minute. But Nashville pulled ahead in the 63rd minute after Moloto hit a ball behind the Steel’s back line that Ropapa Mensah hit past Coronel. Mensah was arguably offside but was not flagged by the linesman, much to Brendan Burke and the home crowd’s yelling, and Coronel was forced to come off of his line and try to block the shot.

Nashville’s third came from a scramble and rebound in Bethlehem’s box in the 70th minute. After making the first save, Coronel gave up a rebound that his defenders couldn’t clear completely and fell to Kosuke Kimura’s feet. Kimura buried the ball in the bottom of the far left corner, putting Nashville up by two.

The Steel really started to pressure Nashville in the last 15 minutes of the match, creating strong chances and forcing Sparrow to make some big saves to keep his team on top. Bethlehem almost scored their second in the 76th minute after a shot from Michee Ngalina on the edge of the box was deflected away by Sparrow. Just four minutes later, Chambers crossed a long ball into the box that couldn’t be tapped in, while Faris had his shot sail just over the crossbar in the 83rd minute.

Despite the Steel’s strong chances, another scramble in the box resulted in another rebound goal for Nashville. This time, fresh substitute Cameron Lancaster snuck the ball past Coronel in the 83rd minute to put Nashville up by three goals. Bethlehem had no response to Nashville’s four goals, and so the match ended 4-1 as the Steel’s losing streak and home field issues continue.

Attendance was 417.

Three points

Defensive struggles. While nobody on the field looked bad, nobody really looked good either. No single player especially stood out during this match, and none of the Steel’s players really worked well together. It was especially evident in Bethlehem’s back line, where some defensive blunders and general lack of ability to clear the ball out of the box led to two of Nashville’s goals. Nathan Harriel played central defender while Issa Rayyan played right defender and the two looked a bit lost in their positions last night.

Missing players. Chavany Willis is currently out with an ankle sprain and was missed this game. Matt Real is on international duty with the U20 USMNT and was missed this game. The Steel had to bring on some new players for this match, including Union academy midfielder Axel Picazo who got his first start and match for the team, and Selmir Miscic who made his debut this season as well after returning from injury.

Home woes continue. This is now the eighth match the Steel have lost or tied in a row, the fifth at home. While La Salle University may not really be Bethlehem’s home, they still had a higher than anticipated home crowd come out to cheer the team on. The team looked prepared to play on turf, but not really prepared for this tough match against a soon-to-be MLS squad. So, field issues aside, the Steel have been having some real problems the past two months, are dropping in the standings every week and need to make some changes sooner rather than later.

Lineups

Bethlehem

Carlos MIguel Coronel; Walter Cortes, Ben Ofiemu, Nate Harriel, Issa Rayyan; James Chambers, Anthony Fontana, Michee Nglina, Axel Picazo (Selmir Miscic 86′); Faris, Shnayder Borgelin (Zach Zandi 58′). Unused substitutes: Tomas Romero, JD Wagner, Dante Huckaby

Nashville

Connor Sparrow; Kosuke Kimura, Bradley Bourgeois, Ken Tribbett, Juston Davis; Matt Lagrassa (Bolv Akinyode 79′), Michael Reed, Ropapa Mensah, Lebo Moloto (Kharlton Belmar 78′), Taylor Washington; Daniel Rios (Cameron Lancaster 66′). Unused substitutes: Matt Pickens, Liam Doyle, Alan Winn, Darnell King,

Goals

Bethlehem: James Chambers – 25th minute

Nashville: Ken Tribbet (Lebo Moloto) – 27th minute

Nashville: Ropapa Mensah (Lebo Moloto) – 63rd minute

Nashville: Kosuke Kimura – 70th minte

Nashville: Cameron Lancaster – 83rd minute

Cards

Nashville: Bradley Bourgeois – yellow – 23rd minute

Nashville: Matt Lagrassa – yellow – 41st minute

Bethlehem: Walter Cortes – yellow – 42nd minute

Bethlehem: James Chambers – yellow – 49th minute

Nashville: Ropapa Mensah – yellow – 80th minute

4 Comments

  1. Not a good season so far. I wish they would look like they did last season. They feel so disjointed and it’s really affecting performance. I used to look forward to games last year but now I don’t feel the same way.

    • Sara Griswold says:

      Agreed. The Steel are struggling for consistency this season. Between injuries, international duty and first team callups, Bethlehem are struggling to put the same strong players who’ve played together long enough on the field week to week.

      The last eight win-less matches have been rough, especially since over half of them are in front of home crowds. Burke has to find some way to build up more consistency if he wants to bring back hope to fans.

    • Bring BSFC Back to Bethlehem says:

      It’s very hard to compare it to last season. Losing Santi Moar and Johnny Mac is enough to set any team back. Santi might be the USL MVP and McCarthy has been great in net for Tampa who are in first place.

      Steel were damn solid last season and by this time they were finally putting out the same Starting XI every week [more or less]. Plus they played in Bethlehem.

      I still contend if they brought back the same squad that finished last season and played in Bethlehem they would have got a home playoff match [top 4].

  2. Tim Jones says:

    Sara rightly mentions the most important of these above. This list is everybody who was missing

    The following were unavailable to the Steel for the Nashville match.
    – Jamoi Topey, international duty with Jamaica for the Gold cup
    – Matt Real, coming back from international duty with U20 World Cup
    – Saed Diaz, hurt
    – Yomi Scintu, hurt
    – Chavany Willis, hurt
    – Steve Kingue, hurt
    – Cole Turner, suspended for something in a different league.

    Turner would be ahead of Harriel as a center back.
    Willis has started every game until now in the midfield.
    Real and Topey have been fixtures in the back line when available.

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