Bethlehem Steel played their first match up against USL opposition Wednesday afternoon, coming away with a victory to the tune of 5-2. Instead of posting a full recap like it’s a regular season match (and not having the benefit of a livestream to help everyone out) here are some themes and talking points coming out of today’s match.
Aidan Apodaca is going to destroy you
Not, like, you personally or anything, he’s actually a very nice guy. Apodaca showed well enough to grab a contract this morning and followed that up with a goal and at least one assist when Bethlehem left Penn FC in the dust in the second half. His holdup game is strong, he’s pacy, he shrugs off defenders and fights the stronger ones. He played incredibly well with Tonny Temple and Issa Rayyan up top and the really selfish version of me wants to see him play in a two-striker set up with Brandon Allen.
Academy shines through
To the surprise of about no one, this was a huge step up in terms of performance for the next batch of Union Academy kids you’ll want to know. Brenden “Fearless 18” (context) Aaronson, Issa Rayyan and Tonny Temple were shaky in the first half, but once they got a few tackles in and pushed past a few walls, they showed up. Temple banged in a brace, with his second goal being the pick of the bunch on a tight angle. Aaronson was a pest in the midfield and not only set up Apodaca’s goal but got a tap-in of his own late on. Steel FC are a development club first, and their ability to make it into the playoffs is second to developing these kids and having them play well. After seeing the kids play honest to god full grown adults, they’ll be indistinguishable.
Yes it’s preseason, yes the backline at times featured AJ Paterson who was a recent addition as well as Prosper Chiluya who has only been in the US since Friday. That being said, the shape was not great. Things started off wonky as Brandon Aubrey’s old ghosts of silly mental lapses popped back up and his back pass to Tomas Romero was, well, lazy. Paterson and Chiluya looked fine, Aubrey settled in and played great the rest of the match but the sharpness of the defense just has to be better.
It’s still preseason, let’s not go crazy about the scoreline:
Hooray, vanquishing Penn FC 5-2 with big ouput from the new guys and the kids! Bethlehem are a lock for the playoffs and Penn FC are like, the new Toronto FC II right? Probably not. Both sides sat out a handful of their bigger names and Penn FC is still very much deep into trialist season. Sure it’s a momentum builder and Bethlehem having the edge (barely) in conditioning is a nice thing to notice but this isn’t necessarily indicative of things to come. Though one can hope.
Bethlehem SteeI Lineup
Group 1 (played first 30 minutes and final 30 minutes)
Tomas Romero# (played first 60’); Prosper Chiluya, Brandon Aubrey (played first 45’), Ben Ofeimu#, Sam Wancowicz**; AJ Paterson, Mike Catalano*; Issa Rayyan#, Brenden Aaronson#, Tonny Temple#; Aidan Apodaca.
Group 2 (31’-60’)
Lukas Burns# (61’-90’); Mickey George**, AJ Paterson, Ben Ofeimu#, Michael Pellegrino#; Seth Kuhn# (45’-90’), Gregory Messam Jr.**; Jeremy Rafanello#, Darius Lewis#, Audi Jepson**; Brandon Allen.
Penn FC Lineup
Romu Peise**r; Pedro Galvao**, Harri Hawkins**, Kyle Venter**, Jake Bond; Daniel Metzger, Mauro Eustaquio**; Aaron Dennis, Calvin Rezende, Naeem Charles**; Saalih Muhammad**.
Second half starters
Sean Lewis; Salvatore Barone**, Harri Hawkins**, Tiago Calvano, Marco Franco; Miguel Jaime**, Dan Metzger (Chris Hill** 65’), Jorge Rivera, Fabio Desousa, Jake Bond, Naeem Charles**.
The Steel are back in action at YSC Sports on Saturday with a game against Syracuse University at 2 p.m.