Match Report / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 3-4 New York Red Bulls II

Photo: Marjorie Elzey 

The Bethlehem Steel lost to New York Red Bulls II, 4-3 on Wednesday evening. Bethlehem finally returned to Talen Energy Stadium, playing their last 3 home games at La Salle University and Lehigh’s Goodman Stadium. The Steel were looking for some consistency, something that is hard to achieve with a constantly changing roster. The Steel won 3-0 last week at Hartford, but fell 1-0 to Pittsburgh on the 4th of July.

The Steel used this match as an opportunity to give some first team members, and academy players more match minutes. Matt Real, Anthony Fontana and Mark McKenzie, who captained the team, all started. It will be interesting to see how this affects the Union matchday squad as they travel to Salt Lake Saturday. Also interesting was the age of the squad, with the oldest player being Zach Zandi at 23.

After a brief feeling out period, the match came to life. In the 6th minute, Marcus Epps had a look on goal that was blocked by Nathan Harriel. Shortly after, McKenzie made a marauding run into the attacking half and played Issa Rayyan in, but his chance was denied by the offside flag. An end to end start finally found a goal, as Tom Barlow was played in and got a slight touch to put it past Romero in the 15th minute. He was assisted by ex-Union player Marcus Epps. The goal gave New York confidence as they dominated play for the next 10 minutes.

8 minutes after New York’s goal, Faris equalized for Steel in the 23rd minute. Against the run of play, Fontana found Faris who made a nice turn at the top of the 18 and put it between Evan Louro’s legs and into the net. The goal was Faris’6th of the season. After the goal New York continued to dictate play and almost found a second goal. Off a corner, Epps was inside the 6 but rocketed his shot off the crossbar. Again in the 33rd minute, Barlow was played in  but Tomas Romero got a touch to put him off. In the 39th minute, New York threatened again and had the ball in the net, but a foul in the box took it away. The first card of the match was given in the 43rd minute, as Chavany Willis stopped a New York counter, earning a yellow card. Shortly after, Matt Real also earned a yellow card, stopping a promising attack. Things come in 3, as Fontana was shown a yellow for a tackle in first half stoppage time. The teams headed into the half tied and the Steel looking to regroup quickly, with New York having 11 total shots in the first half. The Steel also had to be careful in the second half with Willis, Real and Fontana all earning yellows late.

Bethlehem made a switch at half, bringing on James Chambers for Willis. Chambers had an instant impact setting up Bethlehem’s second of the match, finding Rayyan’s strong run down the right side, who found the bottom left corner of the net in the 46th minute. That was Rayyan’s 2nd goal of the season. Rayyan then slid Faris in shortly after, but he was flagged for offsides. New York looked to equalize quickly as Barlow was sprung once again but curled his effort over the bar. Epps then found space in the box but Romero got down quickly to make the save. But almost out of nowhere Steel had found their 3rd of the night. The attack started with Chambers springing Fontana, who had a shot blocked and causing a scramble in the box. It feel to Rayyan who slotted home his 2nd of the night and 3rd of the season. Faris’ hold up play drew New York’s first yellow of the match, going to Jean-Christophe Koffi in the 62nd minute.

With Steel turning the match on its head rather quickly in the second half, New York made 2 subs, bringing on John Tolkin for Christopher Lema and Allen Yanes for Preston Kilwein in the 64th minute. Steel then made the next sub of the match, bringing on Axel Picazo for goal scorer Issa Rayyan in the 70th minute. After his second goal, it appeared Rayyan had fallen ill, throwing up on the pitch, most likely contributing to his exit. A loose ball fell to New York outside the box, but Koffi hit it over, ending New York’s chance . New York made their third and final substitution in the 73rd minute, bringing Rece Buckmaster on for Edgardo Rito.

The subs finally made an impact for New York as Jared Stroud scored their second of the match after a nice link up with Janos Loebe, who was credited with the assist. New York then had a great chance to equalize, but Epps blasted his attempt over the bar from just outside the box. This was shortly after Harriel had a strong header saved by Louro in the New York net.

The last 15 minutes saw Steel looking to hit New York on the counter, as they absorbed pressure from an attack minded New York. Steel were unable to keep the lead as Barlow found his way in once again and finished his opportunity from a great ball from the sub John Tolkin. The Steel defense was adamant and looking for an offside call that did not come.

It was all to play for in the last 10 minutes. Faris drew another foul outside the box, but Chamber’s free kick was saved by Louro in the 85th minute. Steel were forced to make their final sub as Zach Zandi came off injured for Yomi Scintu in the 87th minute. Moments later, Picazo lost the ball in the midfield and Barlow picked it up and found Jared Stroud on the back post who slotted it home giving New York their 4th and completing the comeback. Cole Turner was issued a yellow card in the 90th minute trying to win the ball back for the Steel. With 6 minutes of added time the Steel weren’t able to mount an attack and the game was lost.


Three points

Defensive struggles. The majority of the Steel backline was very young, McKenzie being the oldest and most experienced at 19. That still is not an excuse to lose a 3-1 lead and 4 goals in a match, especially with a MLS caliber centerback starting. The Steel have to nail down their defensive effort in future matches, the offense can’t provide 3 goals every night.

Issa Rayyan’s position. Rayyan is listed as a midfielder on the Steel’s official roster. This season he has started games at right back, right midfield and striker. In this match Rayyan made a pretty good case for staying at striker with his 2 goals. Has he made enough of an impression on Brendan Burke to leave him starting at striker?

Home woes continue. Whether the Steel are playing at Goodman, La Salle or Talen, they can’t escape their terrible home form. In the past 8 matches at home, the Steel have only won twice, posting a record of 2-4-2. If they hope to make the playoffs, home form most improve dramatically.



Tomas Romero; Matt Real, Mark McKenzie, Jamoi Topey, Nathan Harriel; Chavany Willis (James Chambers), Zach Zandi (Yomi Scintu), Anthony Fontana, Cole Turner; Faris, Issa Rayyan (Axel Picazo). Unused substitutes: Michee Ngalina, Ben Ofeimu, Walter Cortes, Brady McSwain.

New York

Evan Louro; Janos Loebe, Preston Kilwien (Allen Yanes), Jordan Scarlett, Edgardo Rito (Rece Buckmaster); Jared Stroud, Christopher Lema (John Tolkin), Jean-Christophe Koffi; Marcus Epps, Tom Barlow, Sebastian Elney. Unused substitutes:  Kyle Zajec, Rashid Nuhu, Amarildo.


New York: Tom Barlow (Marcus Epps) – 15th minute

Bethlehem: Faris (Anthony Fontana) – 23rd minute

Bethlehem: Issa Rayyan (James Chambers) – 46th minute

Bethlehem: Issa Rayyan -58th minute

New York: Jared Stroud (Janos Loebe) – 76th minute

New York: Tom Barlow (John Tolkin) – 82nd minute

New York: Jared Stroud (Tom Barlow) – 88th minute




Bethlehem: Chavany Willis – yellow – 43rd minute

Bethlehem: Matt Real – yellow – 45th minute

Bethlehem: Anthony Fontana– yellow – 45th minute

New York: Jean-Christophe Koffi – yellow – 61st minute

Bethlehem: Cole Turner – 90th minute

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