Bethlehem Steel FC ended the season with a 2-0 loss to Orlando City B who try as they might haven’t managed to miss out on the playoffs this year. Speaking of the year as a whole, Steel head coach Brendan Burke said that failing to capitalize on their scoring chances was the story of Steel FC’s year, at least as far as results go.
Today wasn’t any different. Bethlehem came out strong, rifling off 13 shots in the first half, with the best effort coming off the foot of Leo Fernandes, who saw his 37th minute curling ball smash the crossbar before being cleared quickly by the young lions’ defense. Eric Ayuk and Justin McMaster were effective all game for Bethlehem, their combination of speed and ability to get crosses in would’ve given Steel the lead and a pretty healthy one if not for some great saves from OCB’s Mark Ridgers and inability from the home side to make some more bombing runs forward.
The departure of Ryan Richter to the New York Cosmos saw the “next man up” mentality tested again as the next man up was none other than Union Academy hybrid center/right back Mark McKenzie. McKenzie led Steel on the day with four shots but when asked about his forward runs the Academy standout shrugged and said he used to play forward and had to make a good impression somehow. He certainly impressed as Brendan Burke was raving about his performance, citing his ability to get forward as well as play tough when they needed him to be.
Orlando City B had two good chances and buried them both, with no fault being put on the Steel defense. Taylor Washington, Bolu Akinyode, Nick Bibbs and Mark McKenzie were fine, and I really feel bad for Matt Perrella who has been much better than his record would imply. OCB just capitalized when Bethlehem didn’t and as a result they get to play another week of soccer at least.
Not that this season has been a wash for Steel FC in the slightest. Derrick Jones, Auston Trusty and Joshua Yaro have all gone either straight from Bethlehem to the first team or from the Academy to Steel FC to the first team this year. Placing three guys in your inaugural season is nothing to shake a stick at, and hopefully the dividends of this pipeline pay out huge sometime soon.