What was an otherwise very promising game for Bethlehem Steel FC was marred by a series of sloppy defensive sequences. It’s surprising that this game was the one on the road trip where Bethlehem were clearly outplayed for the first 20 minutes. Maybe it was rotating players so they were in unfamiliar positions with Anderson Conceicao moving Auston Trusty to right back and bringing Taylor Washington to left midfield? Maybe it was Anderson’s inability to be good or to accept that the role he had with the first team week one is now basically a pipe dream. Nevertheless, two defensive breakdowns saw the Junior Reds up two nil after 16 minutes.
Things seemed to settle down after the chaotic opening. The midfield play of James Chambers was the best I’ve seen all year, and the forced (maybe) introduction of Gabe Gissie allowed some hold up play that has been severely lacking in this team. The Philadelphia Union Academy's Anthony Fontana had a dream of a game and he was able to really harass the TFCII defense, winning a free kick that set up a gorgeous Ryan Richter curler that brought Steel FC back within one close to the end of the half. Richter’s ability to calm down this team, while also being able to impact the game offensively, is such a huge asset for the club. Someone with veteran presence is always crucial when you field a young lineup on the road like this. Between Richter on the back line and Chambers in the midfield creating chances, Steel FC rebounded almost the best they have all year.
The second half was promising. Brendan Burke surely wasn’t happy with the opening 20 and looked to do the complete opposite with the 45-65 minute range. Multiple chances for Bethlehem from Gabe Gissie, James Chambers and Josh Heard were close, but TFCII keeper Phil DiBernardo was up to the challenge. On the other side of the park, Samir Badr seemed to have a better grasp on the game, and did well to make some key saves to keep his team in it. Unfortunately for BSFC, 62 minutes in they gave up a juicy free kick from right about where Ryan Richter scored. The massive Steel wall did its job the first time, but the deflection fell to Liam Fraser who hit a sweet ball that beat Badr to the far post.
Down 3-1 with a half hour left in the game, Bethlehem looked game for a comeback. Off a broken set piece Auston Trusty chipped a ball into the feet of James Chambers who rifled a cross onto the waiting foot of Josh Heard for his first goal as a part of Bethlehem Steel FC. Late on the chances for the visitors were promising, but they couldn’t get the tying goal and head back to the Lehigh Valley with no points from Toronto. After two somewhat disappointing games, Bethlehem really have a chance to prove the old saying "there’s no place like home" true as they start a six game home stand on Sunday.