Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 3 – 3 North Carolina FC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey 

Looking to continue a strong start of September, the Steel earned a 3-3 draw on the road against North Carolina FC. After picking up a 3-0 win last week against Swope Park Rangers, the Steel know they need every point to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Due to international call-ups and the Union friendly vs PUMAS, the Steel didn’t have much choice for their starting 11. They came out in their usual 4-4-2 and shifted Issa Rayyan to right back while giving starts to Patrick Bouhi and Yomi Scintu up top. The light roster also saw Union academy player Danny Flores make his first appearance for the Steel as a substitute.

The Steel looked to continue the defensive stability they had found last week, keeping the partnership of Steve Kingue and Ben Ofiemu together. Those dreams would soon be dashed though, as North Carolina’s Austin Da Luz found a deflected ball at the top of the box, sending it into the bottom corner in the 9th minute. The first card of the game came early as Sam Brotherton saw yellow for a hard challenge in the 16th minute. The Steel had another defensive lapse a few moments later, giving up a free kick in a dangerous spot. Graham Smith was able to float a ball into the box, where Robbie Kristo was able to beat both Kingue and Ofeimu and see his header bounce in off the post in the 20th minute. Five minutes later, North Carolina threatened again from a set piece, but Sam Brotherton’s header went over the bar. The last true chance for North Carolina came in the 31st minute, with Donovan Ewolo finding Kristo in the box. Todd Morton got down well to prevent Kristo’s second and North Carolina’s third.

After the 3oth minute, the Steel started to settle in and respond well to North Carolina’s early goals. After seeing North Carolina create chances, the Steel were able to keep the home side contained, not giving any good looks for the final 15 minutes of the half. The Steel then found a goal in the 45th minute from Yomi Scintu, putting them right back into the match at a key time. Cole Turner was able to find Issa Rayyan making a run down the right side, who crossed into the box and Scintu got enough to put it home.

The beginning of the second half was much like the first, with North Carolina starting out strong and on the attack. North Carolina was able to restore their 2 goal lead in the 47th minute with Kristo finding his second of the match. It was another defensive lapse for the Steel, with Kingue getting the ball caught in his feet that Kristo was able to collect and found himself on a breakaway, leaving Morton with no chance Kristo was shown a yellow for celebrating with a prop. An already open match become even more frantic, with Bethlehem pushing up to find another way back, and North Carolina looking to see the game off. In a defensive move, North Carolina brought on Steve Miller for Austin Panchot in the 58th minute, the first sub of the game. Zach Zandi was able to drive toward the North Carolina goal and get away a shot, but was fouled on his attempt to give the Steel a free kick outside the box. James Chambers was able to send an excellent free kick to the left post and into the net to give the Steel momentum and belief in the 6oth minute. Besides the goal, this was also the 100th start for Chambers in a Steel shirt.

North Carolina tried to find an immediate response, but Kristo hit the bar from his header off a corner, keeping the match alive for the Steel. Walter Cortes then made a streaking run down the left and crossed for Scintu, who had a bad first touch that rolled back to Cortes, who was offside. After the Chambers goal, the Steel looked the more dangerous side and having more possession. North Carolina made their second sub of the night, bringing on DJ Taylor for Colton Storm in the 72 minute. To counter North Carolina’s defensive subs the Steel brought on Shanyder Borgelin for Axel Picazo, looking for more of an attacking threat in the 74th minute. In another attacking sub, the Steel brought on Danny Flores for his debut, replacing 15 year old Patrick Bohui. North Carolina also brought on Justin Rennicks for Robbie Kristo. Bethlehem’s subs finally found a payoff as Borgelin found a ball in the box and slotted it home for his first professional goal and to tie the match in the 84th minute. Great work from Zandi and Turner in the box helped set up the chance which Borgelin got a knee to.

After the tying goal, there were no real chances for either side. The Steel earned a free kick in their own half, which earned Duval Wapiwo a yellow card in the 85 minute. Kingue then let a shot go that went wide to left. The Steel then made their final sub of the night as Dante Huckaby for Issa Rayyan in the 89th minute. The last chance for North Carolina fell to DJ Taylor who blasted his attempt over the bar.

Three points

Defensive consistency. After keeping a clean sheet last week, it looked as if the Steel would start finding defensive stability. Those hopes were quickly dashed and the Steel were lucky to find 3 goals for a point. If the Steel want to make a playoff run, defensive issues need to be addressed.

Issa Rayyan’s position. This season, Issa Rayyan has shown that he can play any position on the right side of the field. Given a shortened roster this week, Rayyan was forced into defense, where he operates more as a wingback. To continue his development the Steel should look to lock in his position as soon as possible.

More road games? The Steel have been tougher on the road then they have been at home this season. While they did pick up a win last week at Talen, it will be interesting to see how they far on an upcoming road stretch with great importance to the season.



Todd Morton; Walter Cortes, Steve Kingue, Ben Ofeimu, Issa Rayyan (Dante Huckaby); James Chambers, Cole Turner, Axel Picazo (Shanyder Borgelin), Zach Zandi; Yomi Scintu, Patrick Bouhi (Danny Flores). Unused substitutes: Lukas Burns, Sead Diaz.

North Carolina

Alex Tambakis; Caleb Duvernay, Sam Brotherton, Alex Comisia, Colton Storm (DJ Taylor); Duval Wapiwo, Graham Smith, Austin Da Luz, Austin Panchot (Steve Miller), Donovan Ewolo; Robbie Kristo (Justin Rennicks). Unused substitutes: Darrin MacLeod, Aaron Guillen, Victor Igbekoyi.


North Carolina – Austin Da Luz – 9th minute

North Carolina – Robbie Kristo – 20th minute

Bethlehem – Yomi Scintu – 45th minute

North Carolina – Robbie Kristo – 47th minute

Bethlehem – James Chambers – 60th minute

Bethlehem – Shanyder Borgelin – 84th minute


North Carolina: Sam Brotherton – Yellow – 16th minute

North Carolina: Robbie Kristo – Yellow – 48th minute

North Carolina: Duval Wapiwo – Yellow – 85th minute


  1. Was at the game (moved to NC two years ago).
    The Steel were struggling big time for the first 25-30mins and we thought it was going to be a long night. Credit to the *very* young team for fighting back.
    A couple of thoughts:
    Both centerbacks seemed to struggle with Kristo’s physicality. The importance of Chambers cannot be understated – we heard him all game constantly directing things. After seeing the lineup I was interested to see Turner considering the pre-contract with the Union. He did pretty well but the surprise stand out to me was Picazo. He flashed some moves and quickness that beat NCFC defenders on a few occasions.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Both starting CBs are teenagers CPfeif. Ofeimu, #44, is an old 18, turns 19 at the end of this month. Kingue, #43, is an old 19, will turn 20 at the end of January.
    the “eyes on” observations of Picazo are of real value, thank you. The ones about Chambers are no surprise, but good to have reinforced.
    Coach Burke commented after the game proud of the effort his team made.Apparently some youngsters left everything, including lunch, on the field.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    North Carolina are a different proposition than Swope Park Rangers.
    North Carolina ownership have toyed with expanding to MLS in the past.
    Swope Park are a wholly-owned affiliate of an MLS side for player development purposes, like Bethlehem, and are adapting to a higher standard of competition in the Eastern Conference to which they have just moved this season. They are dead last by a clear separation in the East this year after having been mid-table to conference champion in earlier years in the West.

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