Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1-0 Bethlehem Steel

Photo Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC

After a 45 minute rain delay on the 4th of July, the Bethlehem Steel lost to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in a slow-starting match. Last season, James Chambers was able to pull off a beautiful free kick goal in Pittsburgh to knock the Riverhounds out of the 2018 playoffs. This season, the Steel were unable to pull off a victory in Pittsburgh.

Starting off with some back and forth, the Steel kept a higher line than normal, determined to catch the Riverhounds offside and unable to sneak balls behind Bethlehem’s back line. Pittsburgh had more possession throughout the first half, but were content to move the ball slowly around the pitch without real pressure in their defensive-minded setup. Comparatively, the Steel moved the ball quickly in a series of short, strong pass combinations to move the ball up the field with some pace.

Pittsburgh had a great chance in the 33rd minute, after Tomas Romero came off his line to make an initial save that bounced right back to the Riverhounds. The Hounds couldn’t settle the ball fast enough to get a clear shot off, and the Steel were able to get enough defenders in front of the shot to safely deflect it. It was the closest goal scoring opportunity for either team since the start of the match.

After the Riverhounds’ chance, they began to press the Steel a bit more, dominating possession. Bethlehem’s back line began to crumble a bit, struggling to clear balls out of their own box and half. Fortunately for the Steel, Pittsburgh’s offense was struggling to be cohesive and couldn’t capitalize on any chances that the Steel gave away so easily.

Kenardo Forbes put the Riverhounds ahead, capitalizing on a free kick in the second half, hitting a shot to the near post that Romero was able to get a hand on, but which still deflected into the net. The Steel didn’t have many chances following Pittsburgh’s goal, but possession shifted more in favor of Bethlehem as the 90th minute ticked closer.

Cards were increasingly doled out both sides as the match progressed. Five of the six total yellow cards were awarded in the second half, which got somewhat chippy as Bethlehem’s frustration grew. The boys in blue couldn’t bury the ball in the back of Pittsburgh’s net and the Riverhounds won the match, 1-0.

Bethlehem’s next match is against New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday, July 10 at home.

Three Points

Young lineup. Seven of the starting eleven were teenagers. The average age of Bethlehem’s lineup was 20.3 years old. That number includes 32-year-old James Chambers. Without the Steel’s veteran captain, subtract a year. Last year, the young and varied lineup helped Burke advance farther into the playoffs than ever before, but it hasn’t been the same this year. This year has been mixed results, to say the least.

Zero shots on goal. Might be a mistake by the stats keepers, but officially, Bethlehem had zero shots on target and five total shots in the match. The Steel had some difficulty against Pittsburgh’s five defenders and had very few chances to score, often hitting shots wide of the target or having them deflected. Bethlehem managed to control the 56% of possession while managing to not register a shot on goal.

Wet pitch. After a quick downpour during the weather delay in Pittsburgh, the turf was left drenched and unpredictable. A lot of odd bounces and random slips were prevalent throughout the match and had an impact.


Bethlehem Steel

Tomas Romero; Walter Cortes, Matt Real, Mark McKenzie, Nathan Harriel; Chavany Willis (Steve Kingue – 86′), Cole Turner, Zach Zandi, James Chamber (c);  Faris (Shanyder Borgelin – 86′), Issa Rayyan (Axel Picazo – 75′)

Unused substitutes: Brady McSwain, Michee Ngalina, Selmir Misisc, Ben Ofeimu

Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Kyle Morton; Daniel Rovira (Ryan James – 63′), Oluwatobilba Adewole, Joe Greenspan, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Jordan Dover; Kenardo Forbes (c), Sammy Kahsai (Robbie Mertz – 75′), Kevin Kerr; Steevan Dos Santos, Christian Volesky (Mark Forrest – 87′)

Unused substitutes: Austin Pack, Neco Brett, Uchenna Uzo, Anthony Velarde


PIT: Kenardo Forbes – 57′


BET: Matt Real – yellow – 36′

BET: Chavany Willis – yellow – 49′

PIT: Daniel Rovira – yellow – 54′

BET: James Chambers – yellow – 72′

PIT: Oluwatobilba Adewole – yellow – 74′

PIT: Joe Greenspan – yellow – 90′


  1. Bethlehem reminds me of the Union pre-2018-era-revival. They look mostly competent and even have moments of pretty play ending with a good chance. You can see moments of quality and style.

    But in the end they lose anyway.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Coach Burke, or likely Ernst Tanner, did something interesting tactically. For the first time since 2016, Chambers did not play the number 6. He was further up the pitch with Zandi. The change reflected the success Turner and Willis had playing the double pivot in the 4-4-2 against Hartford.
    Speaking of Turner, he continues to not go off to the Naval Academy. Seems more and more likely that he is not going in the class of 2019-20.
    The ‘Hounds did not score from the run of play. They do not have Christiano Francois this year, and Nico Brett did not play, the attackers were Christian Volesky and dos Santos in a throwback to when coach Lilley was still in Rochester. But the combined score of their previous three matches had been 12-1. The defense did well, conceding only once.
    The points dropped early in the season will keep them out of the playoffs, but this is the first year of no NCAA players (except Zandi who is a homegrown). Burke and Hogan, and Wheddon and Coleman, will adjust, as they did in 2017.
    My own hope is they add one-to-three more bodies to the roster to compensate for younger people being less hardened to the physical demands of a 34-game professional season, especially since the probable addition of a Chicago franchise and the announced one of San Diego may expand the season’s size.

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