Let’s get it out of the way. Maurice Edu was fine. His half hour included a few good reads, some really physical play and even a yellow card, after the match he was in good spirits and gave credit to the Bethlehem roster for being able to adapt to another new face and give him a good amount of action.
The first half was full of physicality. Nick Bibbs was pretty much hockey checked at one point. Bolu Akinyode got into it with some of his former New York Red Bulls II teammates, and Derrick Jones and James Chambers had to fight for every 50/50 ball they saw today. Red Bull and Bethlehem were taking cues from their respective first teams and the match was a bit more choppy than anyone would’ve liked because of it. Brandon Allen got the only goal of the half 32 minutes in when a questionable penalty was called against Gabe Gissie, and the Red Bulls’ leading scorer notched his 14th of the year.
The second half saw Steel out on the front foot, largely in thanks due to the addition of Justin McMaster. McMaster provided a pacey spark off the bench and was an integral part of Bethlehem’s second half chances. Early in the second half was Steel’s best chance as a 51st minute Ryan Richter corner was nodded toward goal by Eric Ayuk but his shot was unlucky to be cleared by a Baby Bull defender. James Chambers was close once or twice but finishing, especially without Cory Burke and Seku Conneh, wasn’t in the cards tonight.
To make things worse, a sloppy spell of play in extra time saw Red Bull II winger and offensive catalyst Derek Etienne get a goal that the Bethlehem Steel FC defense would’ve loved to have back to ice the game at 2-0.
Next week Bethlehem is away against a Charleston team that tends to be pretty solid at home. Another loss for Orlando and a win for Bethlehem is the only way Steel FC can stay in the hunt for the last and only available playoff spot in the USL’s Eastern Conference. We’ll have all the coverage here.