A 74th minute goal from way out by left back Prosper Chiluya led Bethlehem Steel FC to their first road win of the season over Indy Eleven on Saturday night.
Three days after dominating New York Red Bulls II at home, the Steel went into the cavernous home of the Indianapolis Colts (61,000 empty seats and one ugly-looking pitch for soccer) with some momentum behind them and only three changes to the starting XI.
Steel FC were lively early in a back-and-forth game, moving the ball well and quick on the counter, which nearly led to a breakthrough in the 7th minute when Union teammates Adam Najem and Fabian Herbers connected for a chance that was denied by a diving stop from Owain Fon Williams.
Jake McGuire was tested minutes later on the other end when Justin Braun got in on goal, but luckily for the visitors the former Toronto FC forward hit his shot right at McGuire, who made the routine save.
Minutes later, Steel FC had another chance when Michee Ngalina passed on a shot to lay it off for Santi Moar, who crossed the ball to Derrick Jones on the run but the Union homegrown’s quick shot in stride missed wide to the left. Herbers also had a free kick in the 42nd minute get over the wall but did little to trouble the Indy Eleven keeper.
In the second half, Steel FC started to separate themselves a bit, moving the ball around the field, creating turnovers and pressuring Indy Eleven at every turn.
Good team effort led to Herbers finding Moar in the middle of the box for a bouncing finish inside the right post. Moar, who is typically deployed out wide, played as the central attacking midfielder for the game and was a handful for the Indy defense for much of the night.
The goal was the second of the season for Moar, which ties him with three other players for the team lead.
The lead would be short-lived as former Union forward Jack McInerney made a lovely chip pass over the back line to an on-rushing Soony Saad, who crossed the ball in front of the box to Zach Steinberger for the finish.
Steel FC could have packed it in and played for the road point the final 20 minutes, but Chiluya, the 20-year-old left back put them in position to defend all three points when he took a touch with his right foot on a ball cleared from a Najem free kick in the 74th minute and blasted a shot with his left from 30 yards out that would eventually hold up as the game-winner.
After winning back-to-back games for the first time since last season, Steel FC will look to keep the momentum (and table climbing) going on the road at Ottawa Fury on Friday night.
-Five first team players were in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game (Jake McGuire, Olivier Mbaizo, Derrick Jones, Adam Najem and Fabian Herbers. Two from the Union Academy traveled with the team but were unused off the bench: Kris Shakes and Tonny Temple.
-Moar’s goal was his eighth all-time for Steel FC, which puts him in a three-way tie for third place all-time with Derrick Jones and James Chambers.