Bethlehem Steel FC pushed its unbeaten streak to five consecutive matches with a gritty performance on the road to tie the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 1-1.
Playing the Rowdies for the second time in just four days, the two clubs continued their tight affair with another draw to cap off the regular season series. Steel FC made the most of its lone shot on goal as Seku Conneh tied the club’s single-season scoring mark midway through the second half on an assist from James Chambers. The Rowdies fought back and answered late in the match as substitute Sebastian Guenzatti tallied the equalizer.
In the draw, Philadelphia Union Academy midfielders Brenden Aaronson and Michael Pellegrino earned their first starts in the United Soccer League, with each 16-year-old playing the full 90 minutes.
Facing a squad that entered with a 10-1-3 record at Al Lang Stadium, Bethlehem Steel FC was unphased by the task. Steel FC created the match’s first scoring chance of the night on a quick combination play from Conneh, Aaronson and Yosef Samuel. After collecting it near midfield, Aaronson linked up with Conneh on a give-and-go before firing a through ball to Samuel. Racing into the box, the 20-year-old forward with the defense chasing fired toward the near post but was unsuccessful.
Steel FC continued to disrupt the Rowdies offense for much of the match, holding the club to only one shot on target in the opening half. After a scoreless opening half focused on defense, Bethlehem jumped at the opportunity for a quick counter-attack midway through the final half. After left-back Matt Real wrestled it away from Tampa Bay’s Alex Morrell, Chambers combined with Aaronson to spring an attack toward the Rowdies goal. After a pair of touches, Chambers pushed the pace toward Conneh, where the 21-year-old fired it inside the far post for the lead.
Much like Wednesday’s contest in the Lehigh Valley, the lead would be short-lived as Tampa Bay scored with 10 minutes remaining. After Steel FC defended a free kick from outside the 18-yard-box, Rowdies defender Darnell King collected the cleared ball and fired a cross back into the Steel FC box. Guenzatti timed his run to beat the backline and tapped in the tying goal.
Bethlehem Steel FC will look to extend is unbeaten streak and cement its place in the playoffs next month with an important, final road trip of the regular season. Steel FC will begin the trip by heading north of the border for a third and final showdown against Toronto FC II on Friday, October 6. Kick-off from the Ontario Soccer Centre is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 1, Tampa Bay Rowdies 1
Al Lang Stadium
St. Petersburg, FL.
Shots: 17-8 (Tampa Bay)
Shots On Goal: 3-1 (Tampa Bay)
Corners: 11-1 (Tampa Bay)
BST – 56’ Seku Conneh (James Chambers)
TBR – 80’ Sebastian Guenzatti (Darnell King)
BST – 26’ Josh Heard (Yellow Card)
TBR – 29’ Hunter Gorskie (Yellow Card)
BST – 58’ Yosef Samuel (Yellow Card)
TBR – 62’ Joe Cole (Yellow Card)
BST – 74’ Aaron Jones (Yellow Card)
BST – 89’ Jake McGuire (Yellow Card)
TBR – 90+4’ Walter Restrepo (Yellow Card)
BST – 90+4’ Hugh Roberts (Yellow Card)
BST – 90+6’ Cory Burke (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Matt Real, Matthew Mahoney, Hugh Roberts, Aaron Jones; James Chambers, Michael Pellegrino, Brenden Aaronson; Yosef Samuel (Cory Burke 59’), Josh Heard (Chris Nanco 45’), Seku Conneh (Santi Moar 77’).
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, Charlie Reymann, Seth Kuhn, Amoy Brown.
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES STARTING XI
Matt Pickens; Darnell King, Hunter Gorskie, Neill Collins, Zac Portillos; Keith Savage, Joe Cole, Marcel Schäfer; Alex Morrell, Martin Paterson (Walter Restrepo 75’), Darwin Jones (Sebastian Guenzatti 64’).
Substitutes not used: Akira Fitzgerald, Tamika Mkandawire, Kyle Porter, Leo Fernandes, Martin Vingaard.
Guido Gonzales Jr. (Referee), Albert Escovar (Assistant), Madzid Coric (Assistant), Natalie Simon (Fourth)
LVHN TEAM NOTES