It was a reunion of sorts in Bethlehem as John McCarthy and Fabian Herbers checked in for Bethlehem Steel FC for the first time since last season. That being said, despite a good performance from McCarthy, Steel couldn’t come out on top and fell to Orlando City B.
Steel came out aggressively in the first half, dominating play and testing OCB keeper Earl Edwards. Cory Burke had a few clear-cut chances, as did Seku Conneh, but neither the revitalized Jamaican winger nor the dependable Liberian could best the keeper. Early on, Orlando looked overwhelmed by the largely MLS-loaned roster that Steel put out, with Adam Najem specifically carving up the Orlando defense with some well-weighted through balls. Especially in the closing 25 minutes of the first half, Steel looked destined for a goal, peppering Edwards who did well to turn aside everything that came his way.
Then the second half happened. Sure, I can understand wanting to push a group of guys that were so close to a goal in the first 45, but after ten minutes in the second it was clear Steel was losing the plot. In what was probably their worst half of soccer this season, Bethlehem just wasn’t getting much in terms of offensive output. It was not only Bethlehem’s flat offense, but Orlando’s Richie Laryea finding his feet and banging in his first two pro goals pretty much doomed Steel FC. Waiting until the final 15 minutes to give Yosef Samuel and Santi Moar a chance to impact the game seemed a bit of a strange choice as well.
This isn’t great for Bethlehem. The good news is that the club still has a game in hand against a majority of their counterparts in the East, but the bad news is that they were given their first chance to assert themselves and really establish that this year will be different from last, and they came up shorthanded. FC Cincinnati are in town next week and won’t be looking for anything other than three points against a somewhat demoralized Bethlehem team. For Steel, taking down the consensus Eastern Conference power would be a good way to get back on track at home.