Bethlehem Steel FC opened their final home stand of the season with a 1-1 draw against in-state rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds this afternoon at Goodman Stadium.
Steel FC came out of the gates strong, earning the first corner kick of the match in the second minute of play. Philadelphia Union captain Maurice Edu set up the first offensive chance for Steel FC in the fourth minute but an offsides player negated the play.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring in the ninth minute after Kevin Kerr was fouled inside the 18-yard box. Riverhounds leading scorer Corey Hertzog notched his 13th goal of the season when he converted from the penalty spot.
Steel FC looked quickly for the equalizer moments later with Corey Burke generating chances inside the Pittsburgh box. Walter Restrepo set up the first opportunity for Burke but the Jamaican national was stopped by a diving save by Zack Steffen. Minutes later Burke found the back of the net but had the goal negated by an offside flag.
With the halftime whistle looming, both teams pushed for a last minute goal. Steel FC generated a final push as a string of long passes ended with Ryan Richter crossing into the box before a foul ended the possession. Moments later, Steel FC goalkeeper Matt Jones kept the deficit at 1-0 with a quick save inside the box off a Pittsburgh corner kick.
The second half saw Steel FC continue to fight for its postseason life, earning two corner kicks in the first five minutes. The second corner saw shots by Nick Bibbs and Eric Ayuk saved by the Riverhounds’ Steffen.
Steel FC found the equalizer on a quick counter attack in the 68th minute with Burke connecting with James Chambers. Burke found space down the sideline before firing a hard cross into the box. Chambers out of position for a shot, drove and chested the ball into the net to make it 1-1.
Steel FC preserved the lead in the 76th minute with a clever, over the back clearance from Ryan Richter. After a turnover deep inside the defensive zone, Hertzog went for the chip shot over GK Matt Jones but Richter, the Steel FC right back cleared the shot off the line.
Matt Jones paid dividends in stoppage time with a pair of amazing saves. With the seconds ticking down, the goalkeeper sprinted forward on Steel FC’s final corner kick of the match. After nearly heading the ball, Jones sprinted back nearly 100 yards, and prevented a four-on-one breakaway to preserve the draw.
Despite earning a point in the contest, the result wasn’t enough as Steel FC was mathematically eliminated from making the USL Playoffs in its inaugural season.
Steel FC will look to conclude its first season when it plays hosts to eighth placed Orlando City B on Sunday, Sept. 25. The regular season finale is scheduled to kick off from Goodman Stadium at 3 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 1, Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1
Shots: 11-10 (Bethlehem)
Shots On Goal: 7-5 (Bethlehem)
Corners: 8-7 (Bethlehem)
Saves: 4-6 (Pittsburgh)
PGH – 8’ Corey Hertzog (PK)
BST – 67’ James Chambers (Corey Burke)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Matt Jones; Ryan Richter, Nick Bibbs (Seku Conneh 72’), Auston Trusty, Taylor Washington; Maurice Edu© (Bolu Akinyode 60’), Derrick Jones (Justin McMaster 86’), James Chambers; Walter Restrepo (Josh Heard 42’), Eric Ayuk (Cole Missimo 72’), Cory Burke
Substitutes not used: Matt Perrella, Mark McKenzie
PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS STARTING XI
Zach Steffon; Marshall Hollingsworth, Willie Hunt, Sergio Campbell, Michael Green (Zak Boggs 72’); Lebo Moloto (Jordan Murrell 88’), Stephen Okai (Alejandro Aguilar 72’), Kevin Kerr, Drew Russell (Jack Thompson 72’); Corey Hertzog, Chevaughn Walsh (Nick Thompson 60’)
Substitutes not used: Hunter Gilstrap, Nick Kolarac
Jorge Ramirez, Daniel Pannullo (Assistant), Amber O’Connor (Assistant), Yanci De La O (Fourth)
ABOUT BETHLEHEM STEEL FC
Bethlehem Steel FC joined the United Soccer League officially on Oct. 27, 2015. Based in Bethlehem, Pa. in the Lehigh Valley, it is the official USL affiliate of Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. Also owned and operated by Keystone Sports and Entertainment, LLC, the team started their inaugural season on March 25, 2016 at FC Montreal and played the home opener at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium on April 3, 2016. For more information about Bethlehem Steel FC, visit www.bethlehemsteelfc.com.