Despite scoring three goals, Bethlehem Steel FC fell to FC Motown, 4-3, in the team’s first preseason scrimmage of 2018.
Playing in rain and cold conditions at YSC Sports in Wayne, Pa., Steel FC utilized the first scrimmage for conditioning purposes while playing outdoors for only the second time in the preseason. The scrimmage saw Steel FC make group substitutions every 15 minutes, giving nearly every athlete 45 minutes to showcase their talents. Philadelphia Union Academy goalkeeper Tomas Romero was the only member of the squad to play the full 90 minutes.
“I thought it was perfect from our standpoint because of the level of competition, we got to see a lot of kids that haven’t played a lot of minutes with us and see a number of trialists,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “These situations help us make decisions and also help us teach toward the system.”
Steel FC jumped out to the early lead with a strike from team captain, James Chambers in the 15th minute of play. The Dublin, Ireland native collected a clearance from FC Motown at the top of the box and fired a laser into the top right corner to open the scoring.
After a group substitution following the Chambers’ goal, the NPSL side retook momentum with a pair of goals from midfielder Matt Nigro to take a 2-1 lead into halftime.
The second half saw both clubs step up their intensity and pressing, as four goals were notched in a 25-minute span. Steel FC tied the match in the 63rd minute as trialist Elvis Amoh drove down the left wing before cutting inside and firing a low-rolling shot inside the far post.
FC Motown didn’t back down from the goal, scoring twice in four minutes. Motown took the lead in the 75th minute, launching a counter-attack that led to a breakaway finish from Max Garcia. With momentum on their side, Emerson Lawrence snuck a needed insurance goal, crashing his shot off a Steel FC defender that rang into the back of the net.
Trailing by a pair of goals, Steel FC fought back led by Aidan Apodaca. A fourth-round selection by Philadelphia Union in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, Apodaca pulled the scoreline to 4-3 as he fired a shot inside the right post. Steel FC had a chance to tie in the waning moments but saw a header from Amoh sail over the crossbar.
Despite the result, the match against FC Motown was the challenge that Burke was looking for as Steel FC prepares for its USL season.
“[FC Motown] reached out to us before and we watched how they were progressing as a group in their league,” Burke said. “They have progressed into the U.S. Open Cup and lost to Rochester last year so that tells you that they have a lot of motivated players who play at a decent level and that is what we wanted out of our first game. Some mix of experience and motivation so we got a really good, high-intensity game but never out of control.”
Bethlehem Steel FC will return to training on Monday, February 12 as it prepares for its second preseason scrimmage against Junior LoneStar FC U-23s. The match will be free and open to the public and will be hosted at YSC Sports with kickoff slated for 2 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 3, FC Motown 4
BST – 7’ James Chambers
FC – 18’ Matt Nigro
FC – 23’ Matt Nigro
BST – 63’ Elvis Amoh
FC – 75’ Max Garcia
FC – 79’ Emerson Lawrence
BST – 88’ Aidan Apodaca
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
First half Starters (Group 1, combined to play 45 minutes in total)
Tomas Romero; Seth Kuhn, Brandon Aubrey, Matt Danilack, Matt Mahoney; James Chambers, Mike Catalano, Chris Nanco; Issa Rayyan, Tonny Temple, Brandon Allen
Second half Starters (Group 2, combined to play 45 minutes in total)
Tomas Romero; Mickey George, Maxi Schenfeld, Ben Ofeimu, Nyk Sessock; Daniel Bowkett, AJ Paterson, Darius Lewis (Elvis Amoh); Khesanio Hall, Jeremy Rafanello, Aidan Apodaca.
FC MOTOWN STARTING XI
Ryan Baird; Mitch Lurie, Hani Nasr, Chris Riordan; Marcus Hackett, Emerson Lawrence, Matt Nigro, Sammy Gehman; Mike Olla, Dave Nigro, Kene Eze
Substitutes: Joaquin Escudero, James Greco, Rodrigo Santiago, Andy Imoh, Andres Berriel, Aidan Ceishert, Max Garcia