Two points on Bethlehem’s Lousiville win

Photo: Sean Griswold

Point One

Tomas Romero jumps to save a shot on goal by the Rowdies 5/29/19. Photo Marjorie Elzey.

Some veteran readers may remember that in the 2016 Bethlehem season opener at Lehigh’s Goodman Stadium, 16-year-old Tomas Romero started against the Rochester Rhinos. He gave up a late game winner after a second-half comeback led by substitutes Cory Burke and Seku Conneh had equalized against coach Bob Lilley’s perennial USL powerhouse. Full adult professional striker Joachim Graf out-dueled the teenage boy for a head ball, and Romero recorded his first professional loss.

The contrast between that fading memory and 18-year-old Romero’s 12-save performance at Louisville Slugger Field’s dual-surface pitch Saturday night could not be more stark.

John Hackworth’s defending back-to-back champions are every bit as potent as the 2016 Rhinos. Luke Spencer is every bit as fully an adult professional striker as was Graf. And in the 67th minute Romero denied him point blank at the far post on what should have been the game-tying strike. Furthermore, two others of his club-record dozen saves were one-v-one charges forward off his line to deny experienced shooters that self-same equalizer. To say that the Cherry Hill teenager stood on his head at the Falls of the Ohio is to understate the truth, badly.

See for yourself.

The signing of Joe Bendix means Romero will not sign with the Union. He does not have the size conventionally demanded of a goalkeeper, (See “Freese, Matt” for example.) But Romero’s instantaneous 13-yard read-and-charge in the 81st minute to deny wide-open Abdou Thiam and preserve the win was worthy of fellow shortness-highlighted net-minder Nick Rimando, the retiring MLS legend.

Very easily might Brendan Burke be satisfied to have Romero as Bethlehem’s keeper for the next two seasons. If not, Georgetown will have an excellent one this fall and after.

Point Two

All readers know the name of Dutch flank midfielder Arjen Robben, and most will think of him as a classic example of an “inverted” winger. He plays on the right with left-footed dominance, so he cuts into the center onto his shooting foot with deadly effect.

Cortes v Ottawa Fury 5/19/19. Photo Marjorie Elzey.

We do not know whether the Bethlehem brain trust’s decision to start Walter Cortes at right wing back drew on Robben’s example. We doubt playing Cortes as an inverted right-wing-back was a primary motive, since controlling Oscar Jimenez in Louisville’s outside left channel seems a more likely reason based on past history.

But as readers saw for themselves in highlights hyperlink above, Cortes’s game winner came on a cut into the centr and a powerful left footed shot. Jimenez made two errors on the play. He spilled the ball, and then forgot Cortes was a lefty and played him for his right foot. Goal.

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