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Chavany Willis finding scoring touch is good news for Bethlehem Steel

21-year-old Jamaican helped short-handed Steel grab a point against Louisville City

Photo by Morgan Tencza

It probably wasn’t lost on Chavany Willis that for all of the scoring opportunities he’s had this season he was still stuck on the same number of goals as fellow Jamaican Jamoi Topey heading into Sunday’s game against Louisville City FC.

Topey, a center back, had buried his one opportunity a couple weeks earlier to draw level with Willis in the goals category but he has some catching up to do after Willis scored a pair of goals in the 2-2 draw.

“I think I could have about seven or eight goals that I know about,” Willis said after Sunday’s game. “Unfortunately I didn’t hit the target on those, but today I hit the target, so I will continue to do my best in scoring opportunities.”

Willis has the body of a target forward but the skill of a box to box midfielder with the way he is able to cover ground. He’s also shown an ability to get his shot off from distance but hasn’t seen the payoff. He’s tied for third on the team in shots with 16 behind Faris’ 23 and Michee Ngalina’s 19. Half of his shots on target have gone for goals.

“I think Chavany’s at least a 10 goal box to box midfielder in this league, which is an impressive number but it speaks to his skill set; I think he digs in on both sides of the ball,” head coach Brendan Burke said Thursday. “He can find a goal, he’s found many, many opportunities already so far this year but his work rate on both sides of the ball that separates him.”

Willis was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week for his performance on Sunday, but he’s put in other strong performances without the recognition scoring a couple goals against the two-time defending champions will bring. The team is noticeably strong in the midfield when he, captain James Chambers and rookie Zach Zandi are working in tandem.

The Steel will be shorthanded both in the attack and on the back line for Friday’s game against the New York Red Bulls II in North Jersey. Faris and Ben Ofeimu are both sitting out with red card suspensions.

With academy midfielder/defender Cole Turner also serving a suspension and Mark McKenzie and Matt Real both away on international duty, Burke will need to look to the academy to pair with Topey at center back. Academy midfielder/defender Michael Pellegrino, defender JD Wagner and 16-year-old defender Dante Huckaby were all training with the team on Thursday.

“It will have to be another academy center back that steps up and tries to perform against a strong Red Bull team this weekend,” Burke said.

How to Watch

Where: MSU Soccer Park, Montclair, N.J.
When: 7 p.m. ET, Friday, May 31, 2019
Streaming: ESPN+ *

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