Bethlehem Steel FC rounded out the month of June unbeaten, defeating in-state rival Harrisburg City Islanders, 1-0, at FNB Field.
Team captain James Chambers tallied the winning goal, scoring in the second half to push Steel FC to its first series win against its closest rival. Chambers’ winner was his second game-winning goal of 2017 and pushed his goal total to three overall. Fellow midfielder Adam Najem continued his impressive play of late, collecting his third assist of the year on the lone goal.
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper John McCarthy protected the club’s lead, making five saves to nab Steel FC’s fifth shutout of the season.
"We just won three games in a row so we have a lot of momentum right now," Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. "We're catching some breaks but I thought we were in control in the first half and took one or two of our chances in the second half. Harrisburg is a really dangerous team; they have a lot of good weapons on the bench and we tried to make our team aware that we couldn't let the game get stretched out. I think it did get a little stretched out and frantic, but we defended well."
The opening half was defensive minded, with both club’s playing high lines to draw offsides. Philadelphia Union defenders Giliano Wijnaldum, Josh Yaro, Richie Marquez and Keegan Rosenberry anchored the Steel FC defensive line, setting four offsides traps in the opening 45 minutes.
Marquez highlighted the first half offensively for Steel FC, striking the crossbar in the 10th minute. After a long throw-in from Rosenberry, Marquez fired from inside the 18-yard-box but saw the ball crash off the crossbar. Fellow Union teammate Marcus Epps nearly scored the first late in the half but saw his long run end with a shot over the Harrisburg net.
Steel FC pushed the pace in the second half, collecting a pair of corners early. With its high-pressure pinning City Islanders, the squad struck on a patient run of play. After a drive down the flank, Seku Conneh delivered a pass to Chambers. The 30-year-old quickly fired to Najem from the top of the box. With a quick back-heel touch from Najem, Chambers collected the through ball and slotted it past a diving Brandon Miller.
Harrisburg saw its attempt of another late goal in the series stumble in the 80th minute as defender Lee Nishanian was shown a red card for his foul against Conneh. Playing with only 10 men, Harrisburg was finally able to muster a final surge in the waning seconds of stoppage time but couldn’t beat the Steel FC defense.
Bethlehem Steel FC will take a break from regular season play by participating in 'Soccer Night in PA for Sandy Hook’, on Tuesday, June 27. Steel FC will play against Newtown Pride FC at 6 p.m. at WCUSC Turf Field in West Chester, PA. The match will be also raising funds and awareness for Newtown Youth and Family Services.
Steel FC returns to USL play with a three-game homestead, starting on Saturday, July 1. Kickoff at Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University is set for 5 p.m. Tickets for the match can be purchased online here, or by calling the Bethlehem Steel FC ticket office at 844-STEELFC.
Bethlehem Steel FC 1, Harrisburg City Islanders 0
Shots: 12-8 (Harrisburg)
Shots On Goal: 5-2 (Harrisburg)
Corners: 5-1 (Bethlehem)
BST – 54’ James Chambers (Adam Najem)
BST – 76’ Giliano Wijnaldum (Yellow Card)
HAR – 79’ Lee Nishanian (Red Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
John McCarthy, Giliano Wijnaldum, Richie Marquez, Josh Yaro, Keegan Rosenberry; James Chambers, Ken Tribbett, Adam Najem; Anthony Fontana (Chris Nanco 65’), Marcus Epps (Yosef Samuel 82’),
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, Auston Trusty, Hugh Roberts, Aaron Jones, Santi Moar.
HARRISBURG CITY ISLANDERS STARTING XI
Brandon Miller; Abass Mohammed, Lee Nishanian, Travis Brent, Shawn McLaws (Danny DiPrima 87’); Rasheed Olabiyi, Mouhamed Dabo, John Grosh (Cardel Benbow 75’); Pedro Ribeiro Mike Olla (Paul Wilson 60’), Jamie Thomas.
Substitutes not used: Sean Lewis, Jake Bond, Griffin Libhart, Frederick Opuku.
Jorge Ramirez, Terrence Mull (Assistant), Patrick Sudol (Assistant), MakrTreilman (Fourth Official)
LVHN TEAM NOTES