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Bethlehem Steel draw leaves playoffs still possible, but uncertain

Steel FC started a club record seven players age 19 or younger in 1-1 draw with Indy Eleven

Trevor Ruszkowski

For the second week in a row, a youthful Bethlehem Steel FC team had to settle for a draw and wait to see how other games shake out as they head into their final game of the season one of six teams still fighting for four playoff spots.

Faris, an 18-year-old from Cameroon who has been training with the first team in recent weeks, put the Steel on top with his third of the season after benefiting from a defender slipping on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium in the 39th minute. Brenden Aaronson picked up his fourth assist of the season on the play off the counter attack.

The visitors held onto the lead until an hour in when Eugene Starikov was able to beat Ben Ofeimu to a long ball sent into the box by Ayoze and volley it over off-his-line Steel goalkeeper Tomas Romero, who made his first start of the season and eighth of his career.

Head coach Brendan Burke went with a club record seven players under the age of 19 for the match, which included first team loanees Anthony Fontana and Matt Real. Also on loan for the match was Josh Yaro, who made his sixth start of the season for Steel, and first appearance since late August.

With the draw, the Steel remain in sixth place on 47 points with one match left at home against Tampa Bay Rowdies. Three of the teams still in contention — Nashville (47 points), New York Red Bulls II (46 points) and North Carolina FC (44 points) — have two games left to play, which complicates the playoff picture.

By the time the Steel takes the field against Tampa Bay on October 14th, only New York Red Bulls II will not have completed their schedule so there’s a chance they will clinch a spot ahead of their season finale.