Bethlehem Steel FC played their first true preseason game against a formidable Syracuse University team early yesterday at the Union Training Center in Chester. True to form the USL team put on a great game winning 5-0 that included some great starts from captain and long term Ottawa Fury defender Ryan Richter, a deadly combination of pace and speed from the front three of Gabe Gisse, Mohammed Diallo, and Eric Ayuk as well as Bolu Akinyode showing us real promise going forward.
Akinyode opened the scoring one minute in after a botched clearance ricocheted off of a 'Cuse defender, and a simple right foot saw the Steel take the lead right away. Not to be out done, Diallo found the net for Steel FC and after terrorizing the Syracuse defense early. Ayuk got rewarded by earning a penalty that Gissie, the other former Sacramento Republic standout, calmly turned in to the upper left corner of the net.
The second half was more of the same for a lethal looking Bethlehem side. Diallo hit a wonder strike after a great (albeit high) cross found the inside of his left boot and saw the trialist get a more than deserving ovation from the hundred or so onlookers. After a flurry in front of the Orange net fellow trialist and Philadelphia Union Academy player Jamie Luchini finished from 10 yards out to give Bethlehem a comfortable lead.
Really what stood out was how well the Steel back four played together and communicated. Starting goalkeeper Samir Badr was barking orders from the back, and Ryan Richter played as good - if not better than - advertised, certainly earning the captain's armband he donned in a pretty monumental match. Philadelphia Union draft pick Josh Yaro played the role of juicer, squeezing the Orange attack at any chance he could get while springing a few counter attacks for a really fluid, attractive side that more than looks ready for Montreal FC come opening day.
After the match Brendan Burke was more than pleased with his sides performance, giving ample credit to Corey Burke for showing a flash of what he can do in an attacking role. Richter looked solid in front of Badr, who had a great performance being a savvy game manager - all while having seemingly no trouble with the shots that were put on target from the Syracuse offense. Burke also added that loans like what we dealt with for Ayuk, Yaro and Washington will be something to look forward to in the future, especially with young guys.
Because I was so far off with my mock roster article, I figured as a "I'm sorry" I would lay out the Steel starting 11 as they were lined up yesterday.