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Santi Moar continues to make case for first team contract

The Spaniard had a brace with his mom in the stands in a 2-0 win for Bethlehem Steel FC on Wednesday

Santi Moar
Bethlehem Steel FC

Like Cory Burke did for the first team on Saturday, Santi Moar got the all important first goal on the board to lead the Bethlehem Steel FC to a critical win for their postseason chase on Wednesday.

Moar scored with a lovely chip after a great ball from Marcus Epps sprung him free in the 16th minute and then doubled the lead 16 minutes later with a penalty kick that was given for a handball in the box. The goals give Moar the team lead with six for the season and equal his goal haul from his rookie season.

“Santi has carried us for two years now and to pop up with two goals on a big day is a really important contribution,” head coach Brendan Burke said of the 24-year-old Spaniard.

Adding to the moment for Moar was having his mom in the stands, but bigger picture the win keeps the Steel in fifth place with now seven games left to play.

“The season is very long and sometimes you have games where you don’t score but probably deserve and some other times the goals arrive to help the team get three points,” Moar said. “At the end of the season, it evens out. The effort that we put in every day, it shows in the games.”

The win continues a strong run of form for the Steel, which have won five of their last six while pitching shutouts in all but one of those games. The defense hasn’t conceded in 235 minutes.

Moar signed a USL deal after being selected 82nd overall from Pfeiffer University in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, but hasn’t been a stranger to first team training. The success Burke has found this season — he scored the game-winner in the Union’s biggest win of the season over NYCFC on Saturday — shows the value of Steel FC not just as a place to challenge young players from the academy but also late bloomers acquired by the draft.

In addition to Burke, just four other players have signed first team contracts after signing USL deals with the Union organization. Ken Tribbett was the first to do so when he signed with the first team from Steel FC after a strong preseason in 2016 while Olivier Mbaizo is the most recent. Matthew Real signed a homegrown deal after spending all of last season on a USL contract.

Moar’s goals aren’t the only thing that have made him a standout for Steel. His versatility — he can play on either flank or as the 10 — and his playmaking ability have made him an asset for the Steel. With multiple options for both wings on the first team — C.J. Sapong out wide and Cory Burke up top has been a good combo of late — the minutes aren’t necessarily there for Moar now but the runner up for Rookie of the Year in USL last season is an intriguing option to consider for seasons to come.