Bethlehem Steel FC continued its history-making run of play, battling back from a first-half deficit to draw with the Richmond Kickers, 1-1.
After a 92-minute weather delay due to heavy rain and lightning, the two clubs battled with Steel FC pushing its unbeaten streak to six games, the first in the club’s history. Philadelphia Union defender Aaron Jones provided the equalizer for Steel FC, as the goal erased a first-half strike from Richmond. The goal was the English rookie’s first in his professional career.
The hard-fought encounter, demonstrated Steel FC's defensive prowess as the club finished with only nine players. They battled nearly a half hour with only 10 men after Hugh Roberts was sent off with a red card in the 65th minute but held Richmond scoreless. Jamaican forward Cory Burke was also sent off, picking up a pair of yellow cards.
“I think the momentum keeps rolling because of the way this game was managed outside of our control. It was a win absolutely,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “They fought under odd circumstances. I think a few of the young guys grew up a little bit tonight and got put into a very difficult situation and they managed it well. They fought hard and fought for each other and I think that is a testament to where we are as a group right now. We kept the momentum going under extreme circumstances, so it was a really positive night for us after some crazy stuff happened.”
Steel FC and Richmond waited until 6:30 p.m. local time for kickoff, battling the fading sun as it disappeared over the horizon beyond Goodman Stadium.
Bethlehem Steel FC started quickly, nearly finding the opening goal in the seventh minute on a strike from Seku Conneh. Moments later, Philadelphia Union midfielders Brian Carroll and Fabian Herbers teamed up with a long pass over the Kickers’ defense but Herbers' shot was off the mark.
Richmond opened the scoring in the waning moments of the first half, as Luiz Fernando scored in the 40th minute. Off a counter attack, Sunny Jane made a run at goal before firing a low cross that connected with Fernando for the opening goal.
Steel FC turned up the pressure in the second half, nearly scoring in the 46th minute. The equalizer came off a free kick from Jones. Facing a four-person wall from 25 yards out, the 23-year-old fired a curling shot into the top corner for the tying goal.
“It was really important that it happened before the craziness,” Burke said “It was a really well taken goal and we all knew he could do it. I’m glad that Seku (Conneh) let someone else hit one because Seku can absolutely smash those balls. We were actually a little surprised that he let Aaron step over it.”
After Roberts’ red card, Steel FC focused defensively, with goalkeeper Jake McGuire and the rest of the Steel FC backline standing strong for the 1-1 draw.
Steel FC continues its three-game homestead against rival New York Red Bulls II on Sunday, July 9. Steel FC will host “Salute to Heroes Night” during the match, with the club honoring local military members and first responders. 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, Richmond Kickers 1
Shots: 16-16 (Even)
Shots On Goal: 6-4 (Bethlehem)
Corners: 6-5 (Bethlehem)
RIC – 40’ Luiz Fernando (Sunny Jane)
BST – 51’ Aaron Jones
RIC – 45’ Braeden Troyer (Yellow Card)
RIC – 54’ Sunny Jane (Yellow Card)
BST – 65’ Cory Burke (Yellow Card)
BST – 66’ Hugh Roberts (Red Card)
BST – 90’ Auston Trusty (Yellow Card)
BST – 90’+4 Cory Burke (Second Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire, Matt Real, Auston Trusty, Hugh Roberts, Aaron Jones; Brian Carroll ((Santi Moar 60’), Adam Najem, Anthony Fontana (Matthew Mahoney 68’); Cory Burke, Fabian Herbers (Chris Nanco 30’), Seku Conneh.
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, Charlie Reymann, Josh Heard, Yosef Samuel.
RICHMOND KICKERS STARTING XI
Matt Turner; Braeden Troyer, Mallan Roberts, Conor Smanosky, Alex Lee; Sunny Jane (Finnlay Wyatt 55’), Samuel Asante (Yudai Imura 71’), Luiz Fernando, Raul Gonzalez; Owusu Sekyere, Franck Tayou (Anthony Grant 63’)
Substitutes not used: Marcel Debelis, Evan Lee, Patrick McCann.
Andrew Musashe, Ben Pilgrim (Assistant), Brandon Smith (Assistant), Jaroslaw Werel (Fourth Official)
LVHN TEAM NOTES