USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 2 – 5 Atlanta United 2

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Looking to find a way out of the their recent poor form, the Bethlehem Steel traveled south to face Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday night. Several Steel regulars were missing from the squad, with Chavany Willis, Olivier Mbazio and Matt Freese unavailable due to international call ups.

The Steel looked to regain their defensive stability and keep their shape in this match, especially after surrendering 5 or more goals in 2 of their last 3 matches. The first 1o minutes of the match was largely a midfield battle with both sides looking to find a feel for the game. Shortly after the 10 minute mark, Atlanta started to provide more pressure and threatening with several balls into the Bethlehem box. It didn’t take long to see the first yellow card of the match as Atlanta’s Wesley Decas saw yellow for throwing a shoulder into Faris around midfield. Bethlehem struggled to find possession of the ball past the halfway line, with Faris going against the back 4 of Atlanta almost every time. The first warning shot for the Steel came in the 19th minute when a beautiful cross by George Bello found Patrick Okonkwo, who hit the post. Atlanta had another opportunity in the 24th minute but Mo Adams’ effort from outside the 18 went just over the bar. The game entered a bit of lull, with Atlanta earning another yellow card in the 29th minute due to George Campbell taking down Zach Zandi at midfield.

The Steel’s first attacking opportunity came in the 36th minute as Zandi make a move down the left and played Danny Flores in the box, but his shot rolled off his foot and wide. Shortly after Ben Ofieum was shown yellow for a hard tackle on the left side to stop a Atlanta counter attack. Then in the 38th minute, Atlanta found the match’s first goal. George Campbell rose highest off a corner kick, Todd Morton got a hand to it but the ball bounced off the post and in. In the 43rd minute, Campbell earned a free kick just outside the Steel 18, which resulted in a great free kick from Mikey Ambrose to make the Atlanta lead 2 at the half.

The beginning of the second half saw the Steel come out looking for a goal to get back into the match. Atlanta made the first sub with coming Guillermo Benitez coming on for Amir Bashti. In the 48th minute the Steel got a goal back thanks to a penalty kick that was converted by Faris after Ofeimu was taken down in the box. Directly after the penalty, the Steel got a corner but were unable to get a shot on goal. Atlanta was able to restore their 2 goal lead in the 57th minute as Patrick Okonkwo was left unmarked on the edge of the box as he chipped Todd Morton. Shortly after the goal, the Steel looked to get the goal back, causing Mo Adams to see yellow in the 59th minute. Things got worse for the Steel as Atlanta was awarded a penalty in the 60th minute as Ofeimu took down an attacker. George Bello converted from the spot for Atlanta’s fourth. After the goal the Steel brought on Shanyder Borgelin for Saed Diaz, looking for more from their attacking unit. After coming on Brogelin had a look on goal but Atlanta’s keeper got down to keep it a 3 goal game. In the 65th minute, the Steel brought Selmir Miscic on for Danny Flores and Axel Piczao for Zach Zandi as their second and third subs of the game.

In the 77th minute the Steel brought the deficit back to 2 as Picazo found Miscic in the box and the youngster slotted it home for his first professional goal. In the dying stages of the game, Atlanta found their 5th goal of the match, making it the 3rd time in 4 matches the Steel gave up 5 goals. Atlanta  was awarded another penalty after Todd Morton took down an attacker on a breakaway. Morton was shown a yellow for the challenge while Bienvenue Kanakimana converted the penalty.

Three points

Defensive struggles. This match now marks the third time the Steel have surrendered 5 or more goals in the past 4 games. While this a young side that can expect a bad game once in a while, defensive issues have become a very worrying and frequent sign for the Steel late in season.

Cole Turner’s position. Listed as a central midfielder in the pre-match lineup, Turner was more deployed as a third centerback/left back in this match. The Steel have been using this tactic more as they look to get Walter Cortes higher up the field and still have defenders back.

Nothing to Play For? Have the last couple of weeks been the sign of a team that knows they aren’t going to the playoffs and have given up? Some Steel players should be looking to lock up a spot on the team for next year, especially with the changes Ernst Tanner made to the roster last season. Nobody is safe on this team, except Chambers and players on first team contracts.

Lineups

Bethlehem

Todd Morton; Walter Cortes, Steve Kingue, Ben Ofeimu, Nathan Harriel; James Chambers, Cole Turner, Danny Flores (Selmir Miscic), Zach Zandi (Axel Picazo); Faris, Saed Diaz (Shanyder Borgelin). Unused substitutes: Ben Martino, Dante Huckaby

North Carolina

Dylan Castanheria; Mikey Ambrose, Wesley Decas, George Campbell, Jack Metcalf; George Bello, Kevin Barajas (Will Reilly), Mo Adams, Patrick Okonkwo (Bienvenue Kanakimana), Amir Bashti (Guillermo Benitez); Luiz Fernando. Unused substitutes: Paul Christensen, Laurent Kissiedou

Goals

Atlanta- George Campbell- 38th minute

Atlanta – Mikey Ambrose – 43rd minute

Bethlehem – Faris (PK) – 48th minute

Atlanta – Patrick Okonkwo – 57th minute

Atlanta – George Bello (PK) – 61st minute

Bethlehem – Selmir Miscic – 77th minute

Atlanta – Bienvenue Kanakimana (PK) – 87th minute

Cards

Atlanta: Wesley Decas – Yellow – 13th minute

Atlanta: George Campbell – Yellow – 29th minute

Bethlehem: Ben Ofeimu – Yellow – 36th minute

Atlanta: Dylan Castanheria – Yellow – 47th minute

Atlanta – Mo Adams – Yellow – 58th minute

Bethlehem – Todd Morton – 87th minute

Bethlehem – Cole Turner – 89th minute

Atlanta – Luiz Fernando – 90th minute

2 Comments

  1. I wonder how Ernst will take this season. Bethlehem really took a step back.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Chambers is only on a one-year deal.
    .
    The pinned tweet about his professionalism is a hopeful sign.
    .
    Not re-signing Matt Maloney and Drew Skundrich has really hurt.
    .
    I defer to Tanner’s vast experience in youth development so if he tells me I am wrong I will accept it. But, Trusty had two veterans playing next to him in the defense fir his two years with Bethlehem, Mickey Daly and Hugh Roberts. That model seemed to work.
    .
    Especially in a year of system change, having a veteran back there who knew the system might not have been a bad idea. Hindsight is of course 20-10.
    .
    Aaron Long of Red Bulls, the most successful example of a Homegrown center back that comes to mind is playing next to Tim Parker and is playing roughly the same system in which he came through the NYRB academy as far as I can Tell. Chris ARmas wants more flexibility tactically than did Jesse Marsch. But it’s still Red Bulls and they still press all over the field.

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