For the first time in two months, the Bethlehem Steel FC were able to celebrate a win on Saturday night after defeating Saint Louis FC 3-1 in their second home game played at McCarthy Stadium at La Salle University.
Their first win since beating Charleston Battery by an identical score line on April 13 at Talen Energy Stadium was both a long time coming and well deserved for a team on the receiving end of some suspect officiating for the second time in as many weeks.
The Steel started brightly with a pair of goals inside 25 minutes with captain James Chambers scoring for the second straight game off an assist from Zach Zandi and Faris scoring on a counter started by Chambers after receiving a pass from Issa Rayyan.
Just two minutes after putting his team in front 2-0, Faris was sent off for a strange play that looked like little more than two players getting tangled up near the sideline. Last week against Nashville SC, it was a red card that should have been shown for a last man back tackle on Faris that ended up going the visitor’s way. Chambers scored on the ensuing play, but Nashville raced back to score four unanswered goals and win 4-1.
On Saturday night, the Steel managed to score again playing with 10 men when Walter Cortes and Zandi combined on a nice give and go in the box to make it 3-0.
Up 3-0 at the break, the Steel was forced to absorb a lot of pressure from Saint Louis in the second half that even a second yellow shown to Villanova alum Oscar Umar did not relieve. Saint Louis asked several questions, but Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel was up to the task, making some key stops in the game’s closing minutes of regulation and within a seven-minute stoppage time period to preserve the Steel’s fourth win of the season.
The visitors did pull a goal back in the 85th minute through Kadeem Dacres, but Coronel made sure the gap didn’t get any closer, finishing with six saves on the night.
The win snapped an eight-game winless streak for the Steel while the three goals scored was the most for the Steel offense since a 3-3 draw with Loudoun United on May 3. The goals came against a Saint Louis team that was tied with Tampa Bay Rowdies for the fewest goals conceded on the season going into the game.
The game also marked the return of Union defender Matt Real, who had been away with the United States in the U20 World Cup. Real played center back in the game and was joined by first team players Coronel, Michee Ngalina and Anthony Fontana.
The Steel will be back in action at a location to be announced next Saturday at 5 p.m. against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.