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Match report: Saint Louis FC 3-0 Bethlehem Steel

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Bethlehem Steel fell to Saint Louis FC Saturday Night 3-0 at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton, Missouri. The Steel commanded most of the possession but conceded once in the final five minutes of the first half and twice in the first five minutes of the second half. The win for Saint Louis was their first in the league since April 27th. This win jumps Saint Louis up into 10th in the East, the final playoff spot, with the Steel now sitting in 12th. Defensive blunders by Bethlehem combined with some exceptional finishing by Saint Louis were what separated the two sides when all was said and done.    

Standouts for the Steel in the game were few and far between Saturday night, with only a couple of players impacting the game positively including Zach Zandi, Nathan Harriel, Walter Cortes, and keeper Tomas Romero. The average age of Saint Louis in the match was 26 years old compared to Bethlem Steel’s average age of 20. This average included a handful of 18 year-olds that have become staples in the Steel lineup as of late.  

At the beginning of the match, the game ebbed and flowed. Both teams enjoyed some possession without looking overly dangerous early on. Tomas Romero was forced into a good save inside of the first ten in a one-on-one situation. As for the Steel’s first-half chances, they were for the most part non-existent despite two insubstantial attempts by James Chambers off of direct free-kicks, one of which was from a sharp angle and the other of which was from a long way out. Romero made a couple more good saves between the 30th and 40th minutes before a breakthrough by Saint Louis.

Saint Louis FC broke the deadlock in the 41st minute. A nice piece of interplay by Masta Kacher and Collin Fernadez on the left-hand side resulted in a cross by Kacher that found the head of Kyle Greig, who was able to out jump Mark McKenzie and finish high to Romero’s left despite the keeper’s best effort to get his fingertips on the ball.

As the second half opened up, the Steel’s woes continued.

In the 47th minute Lewis Hilton picked up a loose ball forty yards away from goal took two strong touches forward, then cracked a truly sensational strike for his first goal of the year. 

Immediately after this goal, Steel right-back Nathan Harriel was able to get a halfhearted shot on goal from 20 yards out on his weaker left foot, but the shot was easily stopped by Gomez. As play started back up, Gomez boomed a ball upfield that was misjudged by Steel centerback Ben Ofeimu who missed an uncontested defensive header. The ball then fell between Saint Louis’s Kadeem Dacres and Mark McKenzie. Dacres was able to beat Mark McKenzie and finished a ball to Romero’s lower right. 

This third goal came only 1 minute and 40 seconds after the second goal was scored in the 48th minute. 

The rest of the game took a rather boring turn. Saint Louis was more than happy to let the Steel command possession as they bunkered back into to lines of four to defend, only coming out for the occasional counter-attack.

This game was Saint Louis’s first clean sheet in 8 games as well as their first win in 10 games in the USL. The loss for the Steel will be overshadowed by the Senior Team’s 4-0 loss to the Montreal Impact on the same night.

Looking forward, the Steel have a chance to bounce back Thursday, August 1st as they take on Hartford Athletic at Talen Energy Stadium. 

Three Points

Fullback play Despite the conceding three goals, the Steel’s wingbacks played very well. Cortes was switched to the left due to Real being called up to the Union to fill in for the suspended Wagner. This meant that Harriel started on the right. I thought that both fullbacks defended well when called upon and did well with their positioning. They did their best to get forward and be dangerous while the Steel were chasing the game so hats off to them.

McKenzie’s stock going down?  McKenzie could have done better on all three goals the Steel conceded. On the first he allowed his mark to score a header 8 yards from goal on a ball that he could have challenged better in the air. On the second goal, he could have stepped in sooner in an attempt to block the shot of Hilton which ultimately ended up being a wondrous strike. And on the third goal, he was beaten as the last man to a loose ball by Dacres. 

Of the three, I think the second goal is least his fault because of the sheer class that Hilton showed on a strike from quite a distance away. But the other two are quite concerning. For a young centerback who has shown such promise in the past, his defensive showings have, lately, been very shaky.    

Offensive Miscues  The likes of Zandi, Chambers, and Turner all did well in the possession aspect of the game. However, it seemed that the final pass and finish were lacking tonight for whatever reason. The Steel were missing a physical presence in the forward role Saturday night. Faris Pemi Moumbagna was mysteriously not on the roster. He wasn’t listed as injured or on international duty, so it’s a mystery why he did not make the trip with the squad to Fenton, as he has been the Steel’s best striker of late. Rayyan did well with his movement but could not manage to find enough space to shoot. Scintu and Chavany were not dangerous throughout the first half or in the early part of the second half before they were replaced. Subs Miscic, Borgelin, and Picazo were all non-factors offensively in their second half stints due to Saint Louis’s bunkering tactics upon their entry.   

Bonus point: Tomas Romero continues to impress 

With all the negativity being reported after last nights Union and Steel game, I think it’s worth noting that Tomas Romero played very well against Saint Louis. Even though the scoreline may not show it, he has continued his good run of form from last week against Louisville which landed him a team of the week honors. With Blake struggling and Freese injured, I think that our fan base should give praise to the 18 year-old’s maturity and ability in these last two matches.

Lineups

Bethlehem 

Tomas Romero, Walter Cortes, Benjamin Ofeimu, Mark McKenzie, Cole Turner (Selmir Miscic), James Chambers, Zach Zandi, Chavany Willis (Axel Picazo), Issa Rayyan, Yomi Scintu (Shayder Borgelin). Unused subs: Lukas Burns, Steve Kingue.

Saint Louis

Tomas Gomez, Matt Bahner, Sam Fink, Phanuel Kavita, Paris Gee, Lewis Hilton, Oscar Umar, Collin Fernandez (Nikiphoros Vlastos), Masta Kacher, Kyle Greig (Caleb Calvert), Kadeem Dacres (Russell Cicerone). Unused subs: Jake Feniason, Bradley Kamdem Fewo, Sean Reynolds

Goals

Kyle Greig – 41st minute

Lewis Hilton – 48th minute

Kadeem Dacres- 49th minute

Cards

Saint Louis: Oscar Umar – 28th minute

Bethlehem: Chavany Willis – 65th minute

Bethlehem: Mark McKenzie – 77th minute

 

2 Comments

  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    For what it’s worth, against Louisville in the 44th minute Faris reached back for his hamstring. I don’t remember which one without checking the tape. He was subbed at halftime, Axel Picazo by unverified memory.

    • Will Boehmer says:

      Thanks for this information. I looks through a couple different sources and couldn’t find and information about his absence

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