A missed penalty and three other shots off the post from their opponent helped Bethlehem Steel pick up a critical road point against the Ottawa Fury on Sunday and remain in control of their playoff destiny.
Steevan Dos Santos had a chance to put the Canadian side up in the fifth minute when Union loanee Olivier Mbaizo was whistled for a push on Azake Luboyera in the box, but the Cape Verdean forward’s attempt from the spot hit the post. Dos Santos nearly put the Fury on top again in the 23rd minute after beating Matt Mahoney to a 50-50 ball on a counter attack but Jake McGuire was able to redirect his shot off the post with a diving effort.
The save was one of three McGuire made on the day to record his fifth clean sheet of the season and the 10th of his career, breaking a tie for the club lead with John McCarthy.
Joining McGuire and Mbaizo on loan from the first team for the game were Anthony Fontana, who started alongside veteran James Chambers and behind Brenden Aaronson in the midfield, and Fabian Herbers, who started up top. Academy center back Ben Ofeimu made his fifth start of the season.
The Steel generated just one shot on target in the game on a run forward from Mbaizo in the 89th minute.
Check out how Steel FC picked up its second straight clean sheet against a Canadian side! pic.twitter.com/iQWkQnMyun— Bethlehem Steel FC (@BSteelFC) October 1, 2018
With the draw, Steel improved to 13-12-7 on the season. They’ll head out to Indianapolis Saturday before closing the regular season at home against Tampa Bay Rowdies on October 14th.
They’ll need points to secure a playoff berth for the second straight season.
Currently in sixth place, the Steel could at best finish in fifth place with wins in their last two matches, but losses in both and wins by other teams could conceivably put them on the outside looking in.
Here’s what the race for the final four playoff spots — FC Cincinnati, Louisville City, Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Charleston Battery are all already in — looks like.
Indy Eleven - 48 points, 54 possible (Steel, Indy Eleven)
Steel FC - 46 points, 52 possible (Indy Eleven, Tampa Bay)
Ottawa Fury - 45 points, 48 possible (Charleston)
North Carolina FC - 44 points, 53 possible (Red Bulls, Louisville, Charlotte)
Nashville - 44 points, 53 possible (Richmond, Toronto, Cincinnati)
New York Red Bulls II - 43 points, 52 possible (North Carolina, Penn FC, Pittsburgh)
Tampa Bay Rowdies - 40 points, 49 possible (Atlanta, Charlotte, Bethlehem)
Charlotte Independence- 38 points, 47 possible (Penn FC, Tampa Bay, North Carolina)