In a matchup between two MLS-affiliates, Bethlehem Steel FC rallied for a convincing 3-1 victory over Toronto FC II on Sunday afternoon at Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University.
After a scoreless first half that saw Steel FC generate numerous scoring chances, the club found its scoring boots in the final 31 minutes to net three goals. Jamaican international Cory Burke sprung Steel FC ahead midway through the second half for his third goal of the season. While Toronto FC II converted a penalty kick in the 72nd minute, Steel FC fought back with a pair of goals in nine minutes to take all three points.
The result pushes Steel FC’s win total to double digits (10) and into sixth place in the USL Eastern Conference standings. Steel FC finds itself two points away from fifth place Rochester Rhinos and two points ahead of U.S. Open Cup semifinalist FC Cincinnati.
“It was important that we get all three points after the performance in Ottawa last week,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “The fact that Toronto [FC II] came in near the bottom of the table, I made sure that we talk about that all week because they had just beaten two of the top three teams in the league and that was all we talked about this week. Really happy with how intent we were on taking the game to them. [Toronto FC II head coach Jason Bent] does a really good job with a young team. We are in very similar positions and that is a good [win] for us.”
Steel FC controlled possession, which led to seven shots in the opening half. Philadelphia Union teammates Marcus Epps and Adam Najem each had chances. After Epps’ give-and-go was stopped by goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo in the 31st minute, Najem was denied by the right post minutes later.
Despite not finding the back of the net, Steel FC persevered and found the opening goal in the 59th minute. Collecting a pass on the flank from Najem, Chris Nanco served into the box that Burke fired into the side netting for the opening tally.
Toronto FC II jumped back into the match after the goal, earning a penalty kick at the edge of the 18-yard-box. Steel FC goalkeeper Jake McGuire guessed the correct side but captain Mitchell Taintor added too much pace to be denied.
With the visitors gaining momentum, the match changed on the insertion of team captain James Chambers in the 78th minute. Within a minute of taking to the pitch, the Irishman started a counter attack to Ken Tribbett that landed with Burke racing toward the net. With a brace looming, Burke was taken down by Toronto’s Julian Dunn and awarded a penalty. Chambers stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way for the game-winning goal, scoring with just his second touch of the contest. The goal was the 30-year-old’s fifth of the year.
Rookie duo Chris Nanco and Santi Moar teamed up for the insurance goal in stoppage time, with the Spaniard sending Nanco on a breakaway. With defenders running him down, the forward calmly beat the keeper for the final goal. Nanco has now tallied a goal and an assist in back-to-back matches.
Steel FC continues its busiest stretch of the season with a quick turnaround on Wednesday, August 16, against Eastern Conference leaders Charlotte Independence. The match will be featured as part of the USL Game of the Week package with ESPN and will be broadcast on ESPN3. Kickoff from the Sportsplex at Matthews is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 3, Toronto FC II 1
Shots: 17-12 (Bethlehem)
Shots On Goal: 9-3 (Bethlehem)
Corners: 3-3 (Even)
Saves: 6-2 (Toronto)
BST – 59’ Cory Burke (Chris Nanco)
TOR – 73’ Mitchell Taintor (Penalty Kick)
BST – 81’ James Chambers (Penalty Kick)
BST – 90’+2 Chris Nanco (Santi Moar)
BST – 28’ Matt Real (Yellow Card)
TOR – 28’ Jordan McCrary (Yellow Card)
TOR – 50’ Julian Dunn (Yellow Card)
BST – 55’ Cory Burke (Yellow Card)
BST – 57’ Ken Tribbett (Yellow Card)
TOR – 66’ Brian James (Yellow Card)
BST – 76’ Derrick Jones (Yellow Card)
TOR – 79’ Julian Dunn (Red Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Matt Real, Auston Trusty, Hugh Roberts, Aaron Jones; Derrick Jones (James Chambers 78’), Ken Tribbett, Adam Najem (Yosef Samuel 87’); Chris Nanco, Marcus Epps (Santi Moar 61’), Cory Burke.
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, Charlie Reymann, Matthew Mahoney, Seku Conneh.
TORONTO FC II STARTING XI
Anthony Cavalluzzo; Julian Dunn, Mitchell Taintor, Robert
; Jordan McCrary (Dante Campbell 90’), Brian James, Liam Frase, Ryan Telfer; BoskvicAikim Andrews (Matthew Srbely 70’), Malik Johnson (Ricardo John 85’), Shaan Hundal.
Substitutes not used: Mark Pais, Brandon Aubrey, Brandon Onkony, Ben Spencer.
Kevin Broadley, Amilcar Sicaju (Assistant), Victor Vazquez (Assistant), Michael Guzzetta (Fourth Official)
LVHN TEAM NOTES