The first half was 45 minutes of both the Bethlehem Steel and FC Cincinnati trying to figure each other out. Bethlehem had a few promising opportunities on free kicks, but were largely unmotivated on offense. FC Cincinnati came out looking to put the pressure on Samir Badr, especially through the wide play of Jimmy McLaughlin and aerial presence of Sean Okoli. Badr was up for it however, denying Okoli any opportunity to head the ball on frame. Anderson didn’t seem to know what to do about Ugo’s eagerness for the ball, basically committing two penalties that Brendan Burke’s side were lucky to see go uncalled. Bolu Akinyode stepped up a fair bit in the first half in Derrick Jones’s absence, making many of the touches and passes we’ve come to see from the Union Academy graduate. Josh Heard looked fine in the midfield and while he didn’t bag any goals, Cory Burke just fits the Steel FC style of play better than Fabian Herbers does.
The second half was the Samir Badr show. This guy is a gamer. Between keeping his backline organized, and his general presence on the ball in his box, Badr was the reason this game didn’t get out of hand. He had some great help from Mickey Daly and Taylor Washington, but Badr was able to collect 90% of what he saw. However, just about 70 minutes in Corben Bone sent in a set piece that Omar Cummings tapped to some guy named Jimmy McLaughlin and he slotted home.
Badr was calling for offside, which would have been a fair claim if he didn’t have a defender right on the line. Not to take away from the ex-Union midfielder, McLaughlin’s touch was great, and Cincy was in front.
That’s when Gabe Gissie came in and really asserted himself. Steel FC had some of the better chances of the match once the speedy former Sacramento Republic winger was on the pitch. Gissie had a few really nice moves to get behind the Cincy backline, and really he was the main creative force behind the Bethlehem attack. Anthony Fontana got a cameo tonight, and did well in his limited role. He rocketed a Ryan Richter short corner into Tyler Polak, and a nice chested pass fell to Cory Burke who saw his shot beat Mitch Hildebrandt but just miss the keeper’s far post.
This was a great developmental experience for Steel FC. Playing in front of 17,000 and some change isn’t something that happens at this level a whole lot, so the fact that guys like Fontana and Raheem Taylor-Parkes got to experience that so early in their pro careers was a huge help to them I’m sure.
Steel FC wrap up a five game road trip in Toronto on Wednesday the 6th. The club should have a huge boost as Auston Trusty will be back with the Union affiliates in time for the last of what has been a largely successful road trip. We’ll have a preview of that on Tuesday but until then, Steel FC fell to a tough FC Cincinnati side 1-0.