Bethlehem Steel FC couldn't get to six games undefeated, in what was a sloppy performance in Lancaster on Sunday night.
Former Philadelphia Union center back/striker Aaron Wheeler scored twice in 17 seconds for City Islanders FC, due to a good cross by Shawn McLaws on the first goal and terrible marking on the second. Everyone knows Aaron Wheeler's game by now. The 6'4" forward will win just about everything in the air if you let him, and the center back pairing of Ken Tribbett and Anderson Conceicao didn't seem too interested in defending the through balls. The most telling thing about the first combination of center backs we have seen not work out was that Anderson was substituted off at the half for Mickey Daly. Daly and Tribbett seemed to play a little bit better, only allowing one goal that saw a sloppy rebound turned in by Bobby Warshaw.
Offensively, there wasn't a whole lot to look at. Bethlehem's only goal came off of a Leo Fernandes set piece that was lucky to find City Islanders' Matthew Bolduc and go just past the outstretched paw of Keasel Broome. Elsewhere on the attack Steel FC was pretty much stagnant. Fabian Herbers didn't have a whole lot going for him (theme of his season so far), but the combination of Seku Conneh and Cory Burke in the second half after a switch to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation gave Bethlehem their best chances in run of play. Brendan Burke was pretty clear that it's up to the players to win playing time over the course of the week in practice and based off past results, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the order in which we see Conneh, Herbers and Burke come on shuffled a bit against Rochester.
After a just as depressing loss against Red Bulls II in April, I called out John McCarthy. Last night he was one of the bright spots. Apart from his usually solid shot stopping, he collected crosses more efficiently and with a bit more calmness than usual. Eight saves (six in the first half) on three goals allowed is nothing to shake a stick at, especially with a weaker than usual amount of support from his back line.
Next week Steel FC take on Rochester Rhinos in a first time meeting. Hopefully they respond after a loss with another five game streak. Keep it here for updates throughout the week on everything Bethlehem Steel FC.