Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 5-2 Loudoun United

Photo Credit: Marjorie Elzey

Back at home and looking for three points in their playoff push, the Steel beat Loudoun United 5-2 after turning it around at half time. The first half was rough for Bethlehem who gave up an early goal and were losing after the first 45 minutes, but the Steel came out strong in the second half and didn’t allow Loudoun to score a goal in the last 45 minutes.

It was a slow start for the Steel and unsurprisingly, poor defending in their own end led to an early goal. Unable to clear the ball, the back line gave Loudoun a few chances to score, but ultimately it was poor marking on Gordon Wild that allowed United to bury the ball past a diving Todd Morton in just the second minute. It was the epitome of an ugly start for the Steel who had defensive problems, some poor passes and touches, and difficulty penetrating Loudoun’s midfield in the first half.

The Steels’s first real chance came in the 12th minute after some beautiful ball handling by Faris. He brought the ball up the sideline, chipped the defender to get a cross across box that another defender whiffs on and give Matt Real a shot. Real’s shot was saved by a diving Earl Edwards Jr., but it gave Bethlehem some momentum in the match.

In an angry reaction following a non-call where Faris went down in the box, Bethlehem tied the match. Loudoun cleared the ball to the half line and Cole Turner beat his mark to work the ball back up the field to Issa Rayyan. Turner moved to the edge of the six yard box as Rayyan made a cross from the sideline that Turner tipped behind his back to James Chambers who netted the ball in the 35th minute. Bethlehem’s joy was short lived though, when Kyle Murphy’s header from a corner gave United their second goal right before halftime.

Bethlehem tied it once again in the 47th with a great run from Zach Zandi. A pass from Faris to Zandi who was wide open and making his run up the left side of the pitch, gave Zandi the opportunity to bury his shot from just inside the box to far post. Just two minutes later the Steel kept the momentum going and got the go ahead goal. A side pass from Chambers to Rayyan just outside the box had Rayyan netting the Steel’s third goal, giving them the lead for the first time in the match. Dominating the second half, it looked like a new Bethlehem Steel had come to play.

Extending their lead by two goals, Michee Ngalina netted the Steel’s fourth goal of the night. In the 80th minute, Ngalina ran onto ball hit by Rayyan up left side of the pitch, dribble around Loudoun’s goalkeeper and bury his shot for fourth goal in the back of the net. In the 89th minute the Steel were awarded a penalty kick when Zandi went down in the box. Loudoun’s Carlos Alvarez was issued a straight red card before the kick was taken, knocking United down to 10 men while down by two goals Axel Picazo took the kick and buried his first goal for the club in the lower left corner.

Loudouun tried desperately to answer the Steel’s four second half goals, but the match ended 5-2, with Bethlehem taking all three points at home. Bethlehem now have 30 points with six matches left in the regular season.

Three Points

Defensive problems once again. Defensive problems across the board seem to be the Steel’s norm this season. It’s not just one defender, it’s the entire back line. Passes in the back line are inconsistent, defenders are often off their marks, and nobody can seem to clear the ball up the field. Allowing the early goal tonight was the result of all those defensive breakdowns and has unfortunately been an all too common occurrence this year.

Second half success. After a pretty rough first half, Bethlehem recovered in the second half. Another norm this season for the Steel. They dominated the first fifteen minutes of the second half, scoring four unanswered goals to take the lead for the first time all game. For the first time in the match everything looked pretty and the Steel knew how to move through Loudoun’s midfield. It was the second home match victory in a row and fourth match that Bethlehem has won at home this year.

Chambers return to the starting XI. In and out of the starting eleven recently, James Chambers earned another start this match. He also got the start in the draw against North Carolina on September 7th and scored a goal that match as well. The veteran captain might be being phased out a bit for the younger players to gain experience, but it’s obvious that Chambers can still put up numbers and that Burke has no problem bringing him back to the starting lineup to get a result.


Bethlehem Steel (4-4-2)

Todd Morton; Matt Real, Ben Ofeimu, Cole Turner, Olivier Mbaizo; Issa Rayyan (Axel Picazo 73′), James Chambers (c), Chavany Willis, Zach Zandi; Michee Ngalina (Patrick Bohui 83′), Faris (Shanyder Borgelin 67′). Unused substitutes: Yomi Scintu, Walter Cortes, Lukas Burns, Nathan Harriel

Loudoun United (4-2-3-1)

Earl Edwards Jr.; Jacob Greene, Collin Verfurth, Harri Hawkins, Chris Odoi-Atsem (Connor Presely 31′); Antonio Bustamante, Jeremy Garay (Carlos Alvarez 70′); Gordon Wild, Ted Ku-Dipietro, Griffin Yow; Kyle Murphy (c) (Andrew Lubahn 60′). Unused substitutes: Shane Wiedt, Orlando Sinclair, Calle Brown


LOU: Gordon Wild (Jeremy Garay) – 2′

BET: James Chambers (Cole Turner) – 35′

LOU: Kyle Murphy (Gordon Wild) – 45′

BET: Zach Zandi (Faris) – 47′

BET: Issa Rayyan (James Chambers) – 49′

BET: Michee Ngalina (Issa Rayyan) – 80′

BET: Axel Picazo (penalty) – 90’+1′


BET: Michee Ngalina – yellow – 58′

BET: James Chambers – yellow – 84′

LOU: Carlos Alvarez – red – 90′


  1. Great play by Ngalina on his goal.

  2. O captain my captain crunch is gone says:

    Well done fellas. Took my son to the game and had a great time, it was our first steel game. Some nice football out there. We’ll be going to more games. Gotta change the D on corners…. who was on the post when the goal went in? Looked like he was holding the post to keep him from falling. Anyway, got the win and that’s what counts.

    • Unfortunately they only have one more home game this season (a double header with the Union-NYCFC game).
      On the other hand, I think this was my 5th game and the first they won, so you appear to be a good luck charm.

  3. On one hand Chambers has been a total icon for the team, a massive leader and from what I heard will have a future in coaching for us.

    But I AM a little concerned by how flat out terrible this young, full of prospects team seems to be without his veteran presence.

    I mean I understand how it works, and I am not expecting them to be a top USL team or anything, I just wished some of our young talent would be able to take games by the horns more often.

  4. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Coach Burke’s comments postgame highlight taking up more aggressive starting positions to defend.
    I have not yet watched the tape, both logic and the USLC Match Center info suggest that Turner started at center back for Kingue (reported as questionable with a hamstring issue). There is no mention of Topey who was not in the 18. I have not read the approbate discipline report for his recent red card and do not know if his suspension was for multiple games.
    In any case Turner had not been playing center back for sometime and may have had adjustment issues. I would guess it is mandated that he play every minute possible for the rest of the season, as part of developing him to sign with the first team in January after the Nashville-Miami expansion draft that I presume is coming.
    Chambers’ yellow card may mean he misses the next match. Playing Tampa without him will be a challenge. Hope he earned a reduction for good behavior in the interim that I have not noticed.

    • Turner definitely played center back and was part of the issue with ineffectual clearing that led to the first goal. After that he settled down but still had a few shaky moments when under pressure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *