After some flashbacks to a poor 2016 team last week, there seemed to be a general idea that a dismal performance like that wasn’t acceptable. Bethlehem responded in kind with one of their best wins of all time in a big away match against Ottawa Fury FC.
It didn’t look like it was going to go down that way after the first seven minutes, however. Tucker Hume hit a cross/shot that deflected off the leg of Auston Trusty and found its way past Tomas Romero to put Ottawa up 1-0 and it was tense from there. Chris Wingate’s poor clearance fell to Carl Haworth, who saw his curling effort rattle the cross bar before landing outside the Steel FC 18 yard box. Bethlehem would find a chance right at the half with a nifty little heel flick that was pushed behind by Callum Irving. Irving, one of the best keepers in the league - if not all of Canadian soccer - dragged his side into the locker room up 1-0.
Everything opened up in the second half however, thanks to Jamaican International Cory Burke. First he got a look in the 54th minute on a free kick that Irving did well to save low. Then in the 59th on a tantalizing ball in, his diving header was directed straight at Irving. Of course at this point, Steel were snake bit and the game would wrap up 1-0 right? Not quite. Burke, often the focal point of the attack as far as getting chances goes, set up Chris Nanco off a Fury turnover. The Ontario native (I’ll stop bringing it up when it’s not relevant) absolutely smashed the ball on the half volley that even had the fans in attendance in awe.
Steel get an equalizer, which is great. Steel are averaging 1.67 points per game on the road and 1.36 at home anyway, so it’s sort of in line with that. After Seto Seoane missed a big chance at one end, Steel cashed in on the other. With his former club, the Charlotte Eagles capturing the PDL crown Saturday night, Moar wanted to celebrate in his own way. Yosef Samuel popped an Auston Trusty long ball basically straight up and some miscommunication between Irving and Shane McEleney saw Samuel’s follow up deflect off McEleney’s leg and right onto the path of Moar, who slotted home.
Steel would hang on for the last 15 or so minutes and take home a big three points to further distance themselves from Ottawa in the standings.
-Chris Wingate did really well to bounce back from a rough opening 20 minutes. He patrolled well all night, allowing James Chambers and Anthony Fontana enough room to cause some havoc and distribute freely. On top of that he was critical on pressuring the turnover that lead to Steel’s first goal. Bethlehem play great soccer when they have a guy who can run forever and be a destroyer type, which Winny was Saturday night.
-It looks like James Chambers shaved and I’m really conflicted about it. This isn’t really relevant to anything, I just thought I would put it out there. Let me know how you feel in the comments or on Twitter.
-Nanco and Moar are finally seeing some hard work pay off, as goals have been coming for each of them. Great to see them both net one.
Set the Table:
Given where we are in the season and where Steel are in the standings, I figured it would be interesting to break down some scenarios. To make this easier I’m going to post points and games played as GP/P, so for Bethlehem it’s 20/30. RBII are in eight place with 22/27 and below them is a battle to the death with Ottawa being the biggest threat with 24/19. However, Steel shouldn’t look to be knocked into this battle for eighth. Instead, let’s look right above them. FC Cincinnati, a team a lot of people had a second or third this year sit sixth with a 22/31 split. Steel have two games in hand on Cincy and have already won that season series. Bethlehem could even jump Rochester (20/32) if they keep grabbing points and the Rhinos slip up.
I’ll keep updating everyone on the situations on a semi-weekly basis, but Steel are in so much better of a spot then they were last year it’s a joke. Here’s hoping a big win over Ottawa can lead to a big run that would have Steel at the very least make the playoffs for the first time in the club’s history.