USL - Bethlehem Steel FC / USL Match report

Match report: Charleston Battery 5-1 Bethlehem Steel

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Looking to find a way out of their recent poor form, the Bethlehem Steel traveled south to face the Charleston Battery on Saturday. The match was moved up to a 2pm kickoff due to the impending tropical storm in the Charleston area. Even with an earlier kick off, players on both sides were having trouble staying on their feet throughout the match.

The Steel looked to regain their defensive stability and keep their shape in this match, especially after surrendering 5 or more goals in 3 of their last 4 matches. The first 15 minutes of the match were largely a midfield battle with both sides looking to find a feel for the game. It didn’t take long to see the first yellow card of the match as Steel captain James Chambers made a lunging tackle in midfield, getting more of the attacker than the ball in the 21st minute.  Shortly after, Charleston opened the scoring in the 24th minute after a cross into the box found Arthur Bosua, giving Matt Freese no chance in the Steel goal. Charleston almost doubled their lead on a shot from outside the box, but Freese was able to push it wide to prevent a deeper deficit. In the 28th minute, Charleston saw their first yellow card of the match: Axel Picazo was taken down trying to set up an attack right above the Steel 18 yard box. Charleston had another opportunity after a Ben Ofiemu turnover in the Steel half, but Walter Cortes made a key interception at the top of the box to snuff out the attack. Nathan Harriel then saw the third yellow card of the half in the 39th minute, after a late challenge around midfield. Shortly after his yellow card, Harriel was able to send a cross into the box, but was unable to find a Steel attacker to put it on net.  The last 15 minutes turned was much like the first 15, with no clear chances for either side as the Steel went into the half down 1-0.

The beginning of the second half saw the Steel come out looking for a goal to even the match. The Steel earned an early corner, which was headed out and set up a chance for Chambers, but he couldn’t get his foot wrapped around the ball. Charleston responded almost immediately with a chip that tested Freese, which he pushed wide of the post. The Steel made their first sub, looking to wake up their attack with Faris coming on for Shanyder Borgelin in the 5oth minute. The Steel had another great look in the 52nd minute, after nice link-up play by Faris led to a Walter Cortes cross, but once again no Steel attackers were in the area to guide it into the net. Bethlehem then had a free kick at the top of the Charleston box, but Chambers skied his effort well over the bar in the 54th minute. The Steel attack started to wake up in second half, as Faris had another opportunity on the left side of the box but put it wide in the 58th minute. The resulting goal kick saw Walter Cortes receive the Steel’s third yellow card, this time for persistent infringement. Charleston then had a great chance to double their lead in the 61st minute, but Freese got down well to keep the shot out. Faris, who looked lively since coming on, had another chance for an equalizer in the 63rd minute, but his shot from 20 yards out was kept out by Joe Kuzminsky with a diving save in the Charleston net

Charleston found their second goal of the game in the 67th minute, after a nice give and go found Bosua in the box and slotted it into the empty net. Charleston then made their first sub in the 68th minute bringing on Romario Piggott for the injured Nicholas Rittmeyer. Also in the 68th minute, the Steel brought on Chavany Willis for Axel Picazo, looking for another spark to the offense. The Steel put their hopes of a comeback to bed as Nathan Harriel gave up a penalty in the 74th minute, and Ataulla Guerra was able to put it home from spot to make the lead 3.  In the 78th minute, Bosua almost found his hat trick, but was once again denied by Freese after breaking free. Faris found his reward for the energy he brought from the bench, finding a lose ball at the top of box, sending a rocket into the corner and to get the Steel on the board in the 80th minute. Charleston restored their 3 goal lead in the 82nd minute after Freese was caught between decisions and stuck in no-mans land on a chipped ball into the box, which A.J. Paterson headed over him.  To add insult to injury, Charleston scored their 5th goal as Paterson was sprung free and placed his shot into the bottom corner in the 85th minute.

In stoppage time, Charleston was shown a yellow for a foul on Cortes on the left side of the box, Michee Ngalina’s effort almost found the back of the net but was eventually cleared away. The Steel’s season ends with yet another match where they have conceded 5 more goals, doing so 4 times in their final 5 matches.

Three points

Defensive struggles. This match now marks the fourth time the Steel have surrendered 5 or more goals in the past 5 games. While this is a very young team, it was an issue the coaching staff wasn’t able to address the last month of the season. While it’s easy to blame the defense, everyone on the field has to contribute, something the Steel haven’t been seeing in a while.

Cole Turner’s position. Listed as a central defender in the pre-match lineup, he usually lines up as a central midfielder. When the Steel got up into the attack, it seemed that Turner was used more at left back, with Chambers dropping back to cover the center.

Thankful it’s over? Many of the Steel players this season were in their first season as professionals, just graduated from the academy or were on loan from other clubs. Many of these players probably will not be back in a Steel uniform, and from the last month of the season, it looked as if many of those players already knew that.

Lineups

Bethlehem

Matt Freese; Walter Cortes, Cole Turner, Ben Ofeimu, Nathan Harriel; James Chambers, Zach Zandi, Selmir Miscic, Axel Picazo (Chavany Willis); Michee Ngalina, Shanyder Borgelin (Faris). Unused substitutes: Lukas Burns, Yomi Scintu, Saed Diaz

Charleston

Joe Kuzminsky; A.J. Paterson, Jarad van Shalk, Taylor Mueller, Kyle Nelson; Kotaro Higashi, Angelo Kelly, Nicholas Rittmeyer (Romario Piggott), Zeiko Lewis (Vincenzo Candela), Ataulla Guerra; Arthur Bosua (Dante Marini). Unused substitutes: Phil Breno, O’Brian Woodbine, Nicque Daley, Ian Svantesson

Goals

Charleston- Arthur Bosua- 23rd minute

Charleston- Arthur Bosua- 67th minute

Charleston – Ataulla Guerra (PK) – 74th minute

Bethlehem – Faris – 78th minute

Charleston – A.J. Paterson – 81st minute

Charleston – A.J. Paterson – 84th minute

Cards

Bethlehem: James Chambers – Yellow – 21st minute

Charleston: Angelo Kelly – Yellow – 27th minute

Bethlehem: Nathan Harriel- Yellow – 39th minute

Bethlehem: Walter Cortes – Yellow – 58th minute

Charleston – Kotaro Higashi- Yellow – 71st minute

Charleston – Taylor Mueller – Yellow- 90th minute

 

3 Comments

  1. One of the ironies of the match is that last season, A. J. Paterson was a little used left back and center back for Bethlehem Steel FC. My impression is that Mike Anheuser uses him when the opposition have an especially paces winger or striker, like Michee Ngalina.
    .
    While I fully agree with Sean Griswold that the defense is a shambles, there was a silver lining from my point of view. Selmir Miscic had a substitute’s appearance and then two starts in three consecutive games. His engine is not yet 90 minutes match fit for a USLC match, but otherwise he looked like he belonged an the pitch with the adults. The combination of Picazo, Miscic and Zandi, with Zandi interchanging with Chambers when Chambers came forward looked crisp in possession in the midfield third and the defensive third. The connection to the offensive third was less smooth, but some credit for that goes to the Charleston defenders.
    .
    In my opinion, the Charleston match did not seem as demoralizing as the losses to Memphis, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay.
    .
    This has been a year when the academy has been learning the new system, and at the end of the season we are seeing those youngsters begin to show how well they have learned. They are not close to USLC adult match fit. But that will come with time and the 2020 preseason.
    .
    I doubt Ernst Tanner will acquire 5 extra international slots next season, only one or two if necessary. I think all the internationals were a stop-gap for the transition year while the academy kids were being allowed to learn in an age-appropriate environment. One or two of the Internationals may well stick around, but more may not. It will depend on how large next season’s Bethlehem salary budget may be, in part.

  2. Bring Steel Back to Bethlehem says:

    Everything about this team is just sad now

  3. How much development is actually going on for players on a team that concedes 5 goals 80% of the time? It’s one thing to deprioritize results for learning, but getting smacked around every game is another

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