Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 1-2 Tampa Bay Rowdies

Photo Credit: Marjorie Elzey

Back in Bethlehem for the first time this year, the Steel lost 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a historic match. Steel captain James Chambers played in his 100th match for Bethlehem and broke the record for most goals scored for the club. However, facing the first place team in the eastern conference proved difficult for the Steel, who, despite their captain’s accomplishments and their second half turn-around, fell short on Saturday night.

Tampa Bay controlled the match early, setting the pace and getting in a few shots that went wide of Matt Freese. The Steel were able to settle down and get some time on the ball, but not really threaten the Rowdies. Tampa Bay’s best chance came early with Freese making a diving save in the 7th minute to keep it level.

The Rowdies struck first and early, scoring from a penalty kick that fell perfectly to Juan Tejada who was able to first-time the ball straight into the bottom right corner of the net past a diving Freese in the 13th minute. Tejada was wide open in the middle of the box after some poor marking by Bethlehem’s defenders.

After the Rowdies’ goal, the ball went back and forth, with both teams taking turns controlling the pace and neither getting a good chance at goal for the next 20 minutes. Then Tampa Bay struck again in the 34th minute. The initial shot from Tejada was saved by Freese, who tipped the ball off the left post and to Sebastian Guenzatti who was wide open at the front of the net.

Bethlehem’s defense looked out of sync and frequently out of place in the first half, only somewhat bolstered by Union defender Mark McKenzie. The Steel’s offense wasn’t much better. With strong attacking players like Issa Rayyan, Zach Zandi and Shanyder Borgelin up top, former Union and Steel goalkeeper John McCarthy should have had to touch the ball more than twice in the first half. After the first 45 minutes, it was 2-0 in favor of Tampa Bay.

The Steel came out with a chip on their shoulder in the second half and were awarded three yellow cards in the first 15 minutes of the half. Desperate for a goal, Bethlehem started to take control of the ball more and registered their first official shot of the game in the 60th minute. Their first great chance of the match came two minutes later when Zandi hit a cross from the right side of the box that just glanced off of Axel Picazo’s head and went wide of the Rowdies’ net.

Bethlehem continued to press, looking stronger in the second half, both on offense and defense, forcing McCarthy to make some saves. The Steel dominated possession and looked like a new team compared to the first half. The match got interesting in the 90th minute when Bethlehem was awarded a penalty kick. Chambers buried his 16th goal for the club in the lower left corner of the net, giving McCarthy no chance to save it and breaking the club’s record for most goals.

After Chamber cut the Rowdies’ lead in half, the boys in blue kept the pressure high in stoppage time. Chances from Zandi, Picazo, Rayyan and Nathan Harriel were coming left and right in the final few minutes, but none went in the back of the net. Despite the pressure, Bethlehem fell 2-1 to Tampa Bay. The Steel will play Hartford Athletic on Friday, June 28 at 7:30pm in Hartford.

Three Points

Chambers sets new records. Out of the Steel’s 112 total matches to date, James Chambers has now played in 100. As the club’s most veteran player (both in age and time with the club), the captain has done great things and is the first Steel player to hit this mark. The midfielder has also scored 16 goals for the club in his career, passing Union and Steel alum Cory Burke to break the team’s record. Out of his 100 matches, Chambers has started in 94.

Mark up struggles. Both of Tampa Bay’s goals came from poor coverage by Bethlehem’s back line. Twice Tampa Bay players found themselves completely unmarked and punished the Steel for it. The defense didn’t look cohesive, and they weren’t communicating well enough to properly cover. Luckily, Bethlehem’s back line got more aggressive in the second half, pushing a higher line and not giving up any set pieces or chances for the Rowdies. They also did better at marking up.

Back in Bethlehem. After 10 matches at Talen Energy Stadium, the Bethlehem Steel finally made their way back to Bethlehem for Saturday’s match. Cries of “welcome back” echoed throughout the stadium and fans chanted that they would follow the Steel to Chester, but love that their team is back at home. Fans seemed happier and official attendance was 505 at Goodman Stadium.


Bethlehem Steel

Matt Freese; Matt Real, Mark McKenzie, Nathan Harriel, Ben Ofeimu; Issa Rayyan, Anthony Fontana (Steve Kingue 73′), James Chambers (c), Cole Turner (Chavany Willis 55′); Shanyder Borgelin (Axel Picazo 55′), Zach Zandi

Unused substitutes: Brady McSwain, Walter Cortes

Tampa Bay Rowdies

John McCarthy; David Najem, Abdoulaye Diakite, Tarek Morad, Caleb Richards; Jordan Doherty, Yann Ekra, Malik Johnson (Shawn Barry 65′); Sebastian Guenzatti (c), Juan Tejada (Kwadwo Poku 83′), Zach Steinberger (Leon Taylor – 90’+2′)

Unused substitutes: Leo Fernandes, Brandon Allen, Antoine Hoppenot, Chris Konopka


TBR: Juan Tejada (Zach Steinberger) – 13′

TBR: Sebastian Guenzatti – 34′

BET: James Chambers (penalty kick) – 90′


BET: James Chambers – yellow – 29′

BET: Cole Turner – yellow – 50′

BET: Shanyder Borgelin – yellow – 54′

BET: Anthony Fontana – yellow – 57′


  1. Bring BSFC Back to Bethlehem says:

    “Official attendance was 505”

    I’m really surprised by that. I was going to ask where you got that number from but I see it’s on the USL website. I definitely would have said at least 1K. If there were really only 505 there on Saturday, I would hate to see the real numbers from the first three seasons. I’m thinking there were a lot of “sold” tickets in those first three seasons that counted towards attendance.

    It doesn’t really matter how many were there anyway. It was great to have them back for Jambo’s 100th match. And he scored! I have no expectation of them coming back permanently. I know there’s this Easton High School plan but that would be abysmal for the club. Attendance would be pitiful.

    Whatever happens, if Saturday was a send-off of sorts, at least we got to have one.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Two moves at minute 55 by Burke.
    Willis, in a medical recovery appearance, for Turner strengthened the attacking quality of the midfield, and Picazo for Borgelin added a midfielder to the “control of the middle third” midfield battle by sacrificing the striker position.
    Tampa also began to play more and more conservatively as the second half wore on, but five midfielders and no striker was harder for their defenders and middies to anticipate and shut down.
    In fairness to Turner, it was his first appearance in quite some time as he had been suspended for five games for something that happened in another league. But at his best he is not the two way player that Willis is.
    The de facto quality of Bethlehem’s “bench”– I use quotes because it includes first-team reserves and the top layers of the academy as well as Bethlehem-rostered players — has been wanting so far this season.

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