USL - Bethlehem Steel FC / USL Match report

Match report: Indy Eleven 2-1 Bethlehem Steel

Photo Credit: Marjorie Elzey

Last night the Bethlehem Steel traveled to take on the eastern conference’s second place team, the Indy Eleven. It was another must-win for the 13th place Steel, but after a hard fought battle, they fell to Indy, 2-1.

The first half of the match was fairly even, with a lot of back and forth, end line to end line. Indy might have had more of the possession and better chances, but Bethlehem’s usually poor defense stood strong. The first real chance of the match came for the Eleven in the 12th minute following a free kick after Nathan Harriel fouled Tyler Pasher just outside box. Union goalkeeper Matt Freese easily saved Pasher’s shot. Just ten minutes later Freese had his first amazing save of the match, jumping to block Pasher’s header.

Bethlehem had their chances in the first half as well. In the 26th minute Michee Ngalina had a breakaway and sent a pass to Issa Rayyan through an Indy defender’s legs. Rayyan was barely able to deflect the ball towards the net, and Evan Newton was able to make an easy save. The match continued to go back and forth throughout the first half, but some great defending and saves kept it tied nil-nil after 45 minutes.

The second half got off to a similar start. In the 56th minute Indy was awarded a free kick and Neveal Hackshaw’s header was saved by Freese in one of his best saves of the match. Freese was able to quickly dive to the side, getting a hand on the ball and deflecting it around the post. The next play put the Eleven up 1-0 though. Following a long cross, Ilija Ilic was able to bring the ball down from the air and hit it over Freese into the ceiling of the net.

Bethlehem was reinvigorated by Indy’s goal and took control for the next 10 minutes. The Steel had several chances saved by Newton and should have gotten a goal more than a few times. Their closest chance came from Harriel in the 60th, when his first header hit the crossbar and his rebound header was blocked on the goal line by Paddy Barrett. Bethlehem’s tying goal would come fifteen minutes later off of a corner. Ben Ofeimu was open enough to sneak in the six yard box and redirect the ball into the net while Indy’s defense watched.

However, the Steel’s hopes were dashed late. In the 80th minute, Pasher was running onto a ball just outside the box, so Freese decided to come out, but wound up nearly tackling Pasher causing the ball to fly into the middle box. A wide open and waiting Dane Kelly was able to bury the ball to give Indy their game winning second goal. The Steel were unable to rally and score another tying goal in the remaining minutes of the match, so it ended 2-1, in favor of the Indy Eleven.

Three points

A shift in players. This lineup had a lot of the big names (minus Fairs who was out for a red card), but definitely reflects a shift to younger players. Veteran captain James Chambers has been absent from the starting eleven these last few matches, but it hasn’t seemed to have a very noticeable negative impact for the Steel. Chambers is like the Steel’s version of an Ilsinho super-sub; he still sees almost every match and does great work for the team, but he’s on the field less as Burke really shifts his focus to the younger players.

Stronger defense. A frequent issue for the Steel recently, the defense was actually much stronger in this match. The young defense faced off against one of the league’s best offense full of veterans who all put up quality numbers. Cole Turner had a good match, pushing around attackers and being physical, while Harriel had one of his better matches this season with better passes and movement off the ball. All in all, the defense looked more cohesive and didn’t allow nearly as many silly mistakes as usual this match.

9 points from the playoffs. With only seven more matches left this season, the Steel aren’t looking too great. Bethlehem currently has 27 points and are in 13th place. The 10th place (and last eastern team qualified to make the playoffs), Birmingham currently has 36 points. Bethlehem has qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons, and need wins in the last remaining matches. Also, after last night’s match Indy now has 56 points and with Charleston’s loss, the Eleven have clinched their playoff spot.

Lineups

Bethlehem (4-4-2)

Matt Freese; Walter Cortes (c), Steve Kingue (James Chambers 46′), Ben Ofeimu, Nathan Harriel; Chavany Willis (Axel Picazo 83′), Cole Turner, Zach Zandi, Issa Rayyan; Yomi Scintu (Patrick Bohui 66′), Michee Ngalina. Unused substitutes: Todd Morton, Diaz

Indy (3-4-3)

Evan Newton; Neveal Hackshaw, Ayoze, Karl Ouimette, Paddy Barrett (c); Tyler Gibson, Drew Conner, Macauley King, Ilija Ilic (Dane Kelly 76′); Tyler Pasher (Kenny Walker 83′), Cristian Novoa (Matt Watson 68′). Unused substitutes: Farr, Perea, Rodrigues, Starikov

Goals

IND: Ilija Ilic – 57′

BET: Ben Ofeimu – 75′

BET: Dane Kelly – 80′

Cards

BET: Yomi Scintu – yellow – 27′

IND: Karl Oiumette – yellow – 66′

BET: Zach Zandi – yellow – 73′

BET: Matt Freese – yellow – 80′

IND: Dane Kelly – yellow – 88′

IND: Macauley King – yellow – 90′

BET: Ben Ofeimu – yellow – 90’+2′

2 Comments

  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I would guess that the focus on the younger players is coming from the collective technical staff wanting to evaluate fairly everyone on the Bethlehem roster.
    .
    Realistically they were done in the playoff chase when they lost to Hartford at home.
    .
    Burke’s standard for fair evaluation under Earnie Stewart was about ten games. My suspicion is that the need for ten games for some of the earlier “benchies” is why there has been a shift.
    .
    I may be reading too much into it, but Chambers coming on at Halftime seemed early by past practice. Under Stawart, Burke had full control of when he made his subs as long as it was not a medical rehab.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    The way I calculate it, the average age of Bethlehem’s starting lineup — this is not the statistic that coach Burke uses because it is not weighted by minutes played — was 19.9

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