Needing a win to continue the club’s pursuit of its first playoff appearance, Bethlehem Steel FC netted a season-high four goals to complete a regular-season sweep of Toronto FC II, 4-2.
Santi Moar sparked the Steel FC offense with a first-half brace while Derrick Jones and Seku Conneh each tallied scores to seal the result for the club. Moar’s two goals came in a three-minute span, the quickest in the young club’s history. Moar completed the night with an assist on Conneh’s goal. Philadelphia Union midfielder Adam Najem collected a pair of assists to push his season total to a club-record eight.
Playing in their penultimate road match, Steel FC came out eager and pinned Toronto FC II into their half of the field for the opening 25 minutes of the half. After Steel FC had a pair of long-distance chances miss wide, Moar stepped up and converted. Collecting a long pass from defender Auston Trusty, Moar raced toward goal and fired a shot that Toronto goalkeeper Mark Pais couldn’t stop.
Steel FC and Moar didn’t rest after the opening goal and doubled the lead moments later. Finding space in the midfield after a forcing a Toronto FC II turnover, Seku Conneh notched a touch pass to Adam Najem to spring a counter attack. Najem took three touches before connecting with Moar with a through pass. After a touch to push the ball into the 18-yard-box, Moar fired his left-footed shot into the back of the net for the brace.
The second half saw more chances from Steel FC offensively, netting a third goal. With Toronto FC II looking to fight back into the match, the visitors put the lead out of reach as Aaron Jones fired a quick pass toward Najem. With defenders racing toward him, Najem found Derrick Jones on a diagonal run in front of goal that Jones finished in the 53rd minute.
After Toronto trimmed the lead to a pair of goals, Conneh sealed the victory for the club in the 81st minute with his 10th goal of the regular season. After Toronto was unable to clear a Steel FC corner, Moar flicked a header in front of goal that the 21-year-old forward slotted for his third-straight match with a goal. Conneh’s tally also made him the club’s first goalscorer to reach the double-digit mark.
Toronto FC II fought back with goals from Shaan Hundal in the 61st and 88th minute, as he claimed the team lead in goals with his brace. Hundal’s first goal came after Steel FC blocked his initial shot inside the box but the forward collected the blocked shot and slotted inside the far post. With time winding down, Hundal doubled his scoring total, scoring off a cross from substitute Ryan Telfer.
With the victory, Steel FC pushes its unbeaten-streak to six matches as the club ends the night in the sixth position with 12 victories and 43 points overall. The result pushes the club ahead of FC Cincinnati, Orlando City B and USL-defending champion New York Red Bulls II with two matches remaining for all the clubs.
Bethlehem Steel FC returns to action for its final road match of the regular season when the club faces the Rochester Rhinos on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The match will be featured as part of the USL Game of the Week and will be streamed online via the WatchESPN app. Kick-off from Capelli Sport Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 4, Toronto FC II 2
Ontario Soccer Centre
Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Shots: 19-18 (Bethlehem)
Shots On Goal: 6-6
Corners: 7-3 (Bethlehem)
BST – 19’ Santi Moar
BST – 22’ Santi Moar (Adam Najem)
BST – 53’ Derrick Jones (Adam Najem)
TOR – 61’ Shaan Hundal
BST – 81’ Seku Conneh (Santi Moar)
TOR – 88’ Shaan Hundal (Ryan Telfer)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Charlie Reymann, Auston Trusty, Josh Yaro, Aaron Jones; James Chambers (Hugh Roberts 67’), Derrick Jones, Adam Najem; Santi Moar, Chris Nanco (Yosef Samuel 77’), Seku Conneh (Brenden Aaronson 87’).
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, Matthew Mahoney, Josh Heard.
TORONTO FC II STARTING XI
Mark Pais; Lars Eckenrode, Mitchell Taintor, Julian Dunn; Anthony Osorio, Sergio Camargo (Ryan Telfer 85’), Matthew Srbely, Brian James (Noble Okello 71’); Jordan McCrary, Shaan Hundal, Daniel Da Silva (Luca Uccello 65’).
Substitutes not used: Angelo Cavalluzzo, Brandon Onkony, Aidan Daniels, Malik Johnson.
LVHN TEAM NOTES