Bethlehem Steel FC overcame a first-half deficit to defeat in-state rival Penn FC, 5-2, in the club’s third preseason friendly of the year.
After allowing an early goal in the fourth minute on a defensive turnover, Steel FC rallied for five goals in the final 45 minutes led by Philadelphia Union Academy product Tonny Temple two-goal performance.
“[Penn FC] was really difficult to break down in the first half; I don’t think we have more than one meaningful chance but we came alive in the second half because we continued to play the right way,” Bethlehem Steel FC Brendan Burke said. “All the little things that we talk about every day started to come alive along with our fitness. We had some guys that had to have a gut check for hitting a wall in the second half but they worked through it.”
The match featured 10 players from the Union Academy, including five first-half starters, getting valuable USL experience against a fellow in-state squad. The youthful energy was key in the final half, Brenden Aaronson and Issa Rayyan aided Temple in the victory.
Penn FC came out strong, as Calvin Rezende stole a pass from Steel FC defender Brandon Aubrey. Creating a quick counter-attack, Rezende laid off a pass to Sallah Muhammad for the brisk finish.
Steel FC found its footing in the second half, netting an equalizer in the 61st minute. With Penn FC building from the defense, trialist Gregory Messam Jr intercepted a poor clearance. The Jamaican international passed it to fellow trialist Audi Jepson on the left flank, who used his speed to dribble into the box and beat the keeper at the near post.
Steel FC claimed the lead for good with a pair of goals in three minutes as Aaronson found newly-signed Aidan Apodaca. Moments late with the team pressing, Temple intercepted a pass from Penn FC’s keeper and fired it into the back of the net.
After Penn FC narrowed the lead to 3-2 on a goal from Aaron Dennis that took a fortunate bounce off the post, Steel FC added goals from Temple and Aaronson to seal the victory.
Steel FC will have little time to recover, as the club will host Syracuse on Saturday, February 24. Kick off from YSC Sports is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 5, Penn FC 2
Shots: 16-14 (Penn FC)
Shots On Goal: 11-10 (Bethlehem)
Corners: 4-3 (Bethlehem)
Saves: 8-6 (Bethlehem)
PENN – 4’ Sallah Muhammad (Calvin Rezende)
BST – 61’ Audi Jepson (Gregory Messam Jr.)
BST – 74’ Aidan Apodaca (Brenden Aaronson)
BST – 77’ Tonny Temple
PENN – 79’ Aaron Dennis (Naeem Charles)
BST – 83’ Tonny Temple (Gregory Messam Jr.)
BST – 89’ Brenden Aaronson (Issa Rayyan)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Group 1 (played first 30 minutes and final 30 minutes)
Tomas Romero (played first 60’); Prosper Chiluya, Brandon Aubrey (played first 45’), Ben Ofeimu, Sam Wancowicz; AJ Paterson, Mike Catalano; Issa Rayyan, Brenden Aaronson, Tonny Temple; Aidan Apodaca.
Group 2 (31’-60’)
Lukas Burkes (61’-90’); Mickey George, AJ Paterson, Ben Ofeimu, Michael Pellegrino; Seth Kuhn (45’-90’), Gregory Messam Jr.; Jeremy Rafanello, Darius Lewis, Aidan Jepson; Brandon Allen.
PENN FC STARTING XI
Romu Peiser; Pedro Galvao, Harri Hawkins, Kyle Venter, Jake Bond; Daniel Metzger, Mauro Eustaquio; Aaron Dennis, Calvin Rezende, Naeem Charles; Saalih Muhammad.
Second half starters
Sean Lewis; Salvatore Barone, Harri Hawkins, Tiago Calvano, Marco Franco; Miguel Jaime, Dan Metzger (Chris Hill 65’), Jorge Rivera, Fabio Desousa, Jake Bond, Naeem Charles.