As the Philadelphia Union fans watched the team leave the pitch after the Union’s 3-0 victory over the Montreal Impact, they were reminded by the announcer that they were permitted to stay in their seats for the Bethlehem Steel match that was kicking off in less than an hour. Unfortunately for the folks who did stick around, the second ninety minutes of soccer didn’t go as well for the home team as the first.
The Steel were able to put together a solid squad for the match, even though some of the players they had called on earlier in the season weren’t available because they had already appeared with the Union earlier in the day. Kacper Przybylko and Olivier Mbaizo wouldn’t be available to help and Issa Rayyan was kept out due to injury.
Saed Diaz and Shanyder Borgelin got the start as the two strikers for the match, replacing Faris and Michee Ngalina who had been the strikers during Tuesday’s match against Charlotte. Ngalina still got the start as he moved back into the midfield.
Indy Eleven declared their intentions right out of the gate as Dane Kelly sent a shot just over the goal within the first minute. The Steel defense got their act together quickly and they were able to start turning the tables on Indy. Matthew Real was working well on the left side and two of his low crosses in the thirteenth minute nearly slipped past the Indy defense.
The Steel defense held together during the run of play, but they made their first big mistake off of a set piece. Ayoze’s corner in the 26th minute managed to find the head of an Indy player which turned into a scramble inside the box. Eventually Paddy Barrett was able to head it towards Neveal Hackshaw who sent a bouncing shot past Carlos Miguel Coronel for the opening goal.
The Steel defense must have been disappointed in themselves, but they spent too long hanging their heads over their mistake. Indy quickly retook possession after the restart and Ayoze was able to send a long through pass for a streaking Dane Kelly who one-touched the ball into the upper right corner of the net. The time from restart to second goal was only forty-five seconds.
The Steel responded well after going down so quickly. They were going to need some of the energy that gave them their impressive comeback against Swope Park Rangers earlier in the year. But the Indy defense was up to the task. The Indy defenders were able to repeatedly block any Bethlehem shots so that Evan Newton was rarely called into action in net. Despite the Steel’s thirteen shots on the day, only one ended up being on target.
Bethlehem pushed to get on the scoreboard after the half, and their best opportunities came off of set pieces. Ngalina earned a foul about six inches outside of the box in the 61st minute, but the resulting shot off of the free kick was saved by Newton. A similar free kick a few minutes later was cleared away as well.
The Steel were running out of chances and their job became even more difficult after another Indy goal in the 73rd minute. This time Coronel attempted to close down on Tyler Pasher well off of his line. But Pasher made the onrushing keeper miss and easily slotted the ball into the open net.
Second half subs Faris, Chavany Willis, and Yomi Scintu (making his Bethlehem Steel debut) couldn’t change what appeared to be inevitable by this point. Ngalina was the most dangerous man on the field for the Steel, but he couldn’t find the last pass the help beat the Indy defense. The final minutes of play didn’t show much danger from the Steel and too much time was taken up by players getting chippy over fouls.
The momentum that the Steel had from their two big wins over Swope Park and Charleston has pretty much evaporated after these two consecutive losses against Charlotte and Indy. Luckily they have a bye week coming up which should allow the boys to rest and recouperate ahead of their first ever match against Loudoun United.