The first match between Saint Louis FC and Bethlehem Steel FC was a pretty tight encounter, with Bethlehem grabbing three points late. Of course things started bleakly for Bethlehem, with Ken Tribbett slicing a clearance right into Jake McGuire’s net in the third minute. Saint Louis had a decent look off a free kick on the far side of the field and after some chaos, Tribbett couldn’t clear properly to give the home side the lead. Bethlehem would get out on the front foot and create plenty of chances in the first half, but the strong wind coupled with some less than stellar accuracy saw the home side go into the break up 1-0.
The second half got off to a bit of a firey start, with Konrad Plewa and Dragan Stojkov both picking up yellow cards early on in the second 45 minutes. Steel finished the first half on the front foot, and continued the second half the same way. Saint Louis, up a goal, just looked content to try and see the game out. In retrospect I wonder if that was a smart idea with one of the most in form players in USL in Seku Conneh getting plenty of space to create.
Speaking of Seku, Steel were able to work a long throw as Aaron Jones launched the ball into the area. Hugh Roberts get a head on it and after some pinball soccer, Conneh slotted home the scraps to tie the match at one. (Just hit play below, I queued it up for you, because I care.)
There was some rumblings, maybe even a bit of concern from the StL FC side of things about the Open Cup match against the Chicago Fire this Wednesday. The thought went that with a high profile game (in Saint Louis) against a high profile MLS side, maybe Preki would play a lesser side against Bethlehem in league play. Some of those concerns might have been validated in the 63rd minute. Major threats Christian Volesky and Tyler David were subbed off in a double change for Octavio Guzman and Max Alvarez. Both Guzman and Alvarez possess a lot of speed, but lack that cutting edge a team needs to nab three points late in matches.
Seku Conneh got another chance to shine with just over 15 minutes left in the match. Seku drew in three or four Saint Louis defenders before getting free and seeing James Chambers barreling forward. Conneh’s pass wasn’t pinpoint accurate but Chambo cut inside and hit a sweet strike form 20 yards that left Devala Gorrick in the dust. (You’re gonna want to watch this one too.)
This is the type of road win that can help teams get into the playoffs in USL. Bethlehem have a tricky stretch with New York Red Bulls II and Harrisburg as their next two fixtures, both on the road. Harrisburg isn’t invincible and this isn’t exactly the Baby Bulls of 2016, so if Bethlehem can get four points out of this, they should be happy. Stay tuned as we’ll have all the coverage you need for those games and Steel FC in general.