An early goal from Cory Burke was all Bethlehem Steel FC needed, as the club defeated Toronto FC II, 1-0, at BMO Field for its first road victory of the young campaign.
With Union Academy teenagers, 17-year-old left back Matthew Real and 18-year-old center back Mark McKenzie helping to anchor the defense, Steel FC goalkeeper Jake McGuire stood tall to collect his third shutout of the season. McGuire made a career-high seven saves and became the first keeper in the club’s history to register three clean sheets in his first five starts.
Playing in Toronto’s MLS stadium, Steel FC came out aggressive and opened the scoring while fans were still making their way to their seats. Philadelphia Union forward Marcus Epps showcased his blazing speed early in the match, beating his defender to get inside the box. After a quick touch, Epps was fouled with the referee immediately pointing to the penalty spot. Burke calmly slotted home the penalty kick for his first goal of the season and the Steel FC lead.
After the initial goal, Steel FC’s defense and McGuire were pushed to maintain the lead. McGuire put his defensive skills on display in the 15th minute with the first of numerous spectacular saves. With the hosts looking for a quick equalizer, McGuire made a diving save on a shot from Aikim Andrews. McGuire registered four saves in the first half.
After intermission, the Canadian hosts continued to push for an equalizer, firing 15 of their 22 shots in the final 45 minutes. Steel FC remained poised on the road, with McKenzie and Real each earning five timely interceptions to lead the club.
In the 86th minute, McGuire made his biggest save of the match, denying Toronto FC II substitute Shaan Hundal. Hundal, who scored twice last season against Steel FC to propel Toronto to victories, found space on the flank. After a quick touch to get inside, the 17-year-old fired a curling shot that toward Steel FC’s back post. McGuire was quick to react, making a diving save to maintain the clean sheet.
Bethlehem Steel FC will look to cap off its three-game road trip strong next weekend, when the club travels for a third showdown this season with FC Cincinnati on Saturday, May 20. Kick off from Nippert Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 1, Toronto FC II 0
Shots: 22-10 (Toronto)
Shots On Goal: 7-4 (Toronto)
Corners: 7-3 (Toronto)
Saves: 7-3 (Bethlehem)
BST – 8’ Cory Burke (PK)
BST – 66’ Chris Nanco (Yellow card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Matt Real (Matt Mahoney 83’), Mark McKenzie, Hugh Roberts, Aaron Jones; James Chambers, Chris Wingate, Cory Burke; Chris Nanco (Santi Moar 67’), Marcus Epps (Josh Heard 77’), Seku Conneh.
Substitutes not used: Jahmali Waite, Yosef Samuel, Amoy Brown
TORONTO FC II STARTING XI
Angelo Cavallunzzo; Oyvind Alseth, Brandon Aubrey, Mitchell Taintor (Brandon 71’); Liam Fraser, Luca Uccello, Tsubasa Endoh, Ashtone Morgan (Ryan Telfer 46’), Jordan McCrary; Ben Spencer, OnkonyAikim Andrews (Shaan Hundal 59’)
Substitutes not used: Mark Pais, Brian James, Luis Pereira, Sergio Camargo
Pierre-Luc Lauziere, Gianni Facchini (Assistant), Peter Pendli (Assistant), Alexis Vaughan (Fourth Official)