Bethlehem Steel FC kicked off month of March with a pair of exhibitions this weekend, going on the road to defeat NCAA-side Loyola University of Maryland, 5-0, before falling to USL-rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, 2-0, at the Power Training Complex in Chester, Pa.
“I thought we were really sharp and energetic [Saturday] against a different caliber of opponent but a decent one none the less and our guys were really good and showed a desire to push the pace of play,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said following Sunday’s match. “I don’t think we did that from the onset today and there should be no excuse for not building the way we do all the time. I think we let the elements get in our head and that can never be the case because you will encounter all sorts of elements throughout a season. I was happy that we settled down and started to play because [Pittsburgh] is a very direct team with a defense-first mindset which is really good for us at the end of preseason. A lot of good things came from the match and lessons were learned.”
In the closed scrimmage held at the Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore, MD., Saturday afternoon, Steel FC erupted for five goals from four players. Aidan Apodaca continued his strong debut preseason, netting a brace to push his team-lead to five goals in the preseason. Fellow forward Brandon Allen added in a goal for his third of the 2018 preseason. The scoring was rounded out by Mike Catalano’s first of the preseason slate while Chris Nanco buried a penalty kick he drew.
24 hours later, Steel FC returned to the pitch for a match against the rival Hounds. The match saw eight members of the Philadelphia Union see time in the match including former Steel FC players Derrick Jones and Matt Real. Five members of the Philadelphia Union Academy appeared in the friendly, with Jeremey Rafanello and Tonney Temple earning starts.
The Hounds jumped out to the early lead on a cold, windy afternoon, with captain Kevin Kerr creating space at the edge of the 18-yard box that ended up curling past Steel FC’s Jake McGuire. Pittsburgh tacked on an insurance goal in the closing moments of the match as Jordan Dover collected a volley over the Steel FC defense and beat a diving McGuire to push Pittsburgh to a perfect 7-0 in their preseason slate.
Steel FC concludes its preseason slate this week with matches on the road at the University of Maryland before returning home for a Saturday-tilt against New York Red Bulls II. Steel FC will face off against the Terrapins on Tuesday, March 6, with kick off from Ludwig Field scheduled for 7 p.m.
MATCH RECAP #1
Bethlehem Steel FC 5, Loyola University (MD) 0
Ridley Athletic Complex
BST – Aidan Apodaca (2)
BST – Brandon Allen
BST – Mike Catalano
BST – Chris Nanco (PK)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Will Steiner; Mickey George (Prosper Chiluya 45’), Brandon Aubrey, Sam Wancowicz, Matt Mahoney; AJ Paterson, Mike Catalano; Santi Moar (George 45’), Aidan Apodaca, Chris Nanco; Brandon Allen.
MATCH RECAP #2
Bethlehem Steel FC 0, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 2
Power Training Complex
Shots: 12-3 (Pittsburgh)
Shots On Goal: 8-1 (Pittsburgh)
Corners: 5-3 (Pittsburgh)
Saves: 6-1 (Bethlehem)
PGH – 5’ Kevin Kerr
PGH – 90’ Jordan Dover
PGH – 73’ Todd Pratzner (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Matt Real, Mark McKenzie, Josh Yaro, Eric Ayuk; Derrick Jones (Brenden Aaronson 63’), James Chambers (Michael Pellegrino 45’); Tonny Temple, Adam Najem, Marcus Epps; Jeremy Rafanello (Seth Kuhn 45’).
PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS STARTING XI
Kyle Morton (Dan Lynd) – Jordan Dover (Suli Dainkeh 58’), Joe Greenspan, Hugh Roberts (Tobi Adewole 45’), Todd Pratzner, Ray Lee (Jamie Thomas 45’); Joe Holland (Colin Stripling 58’), Thomas Vancaeyezeele (Dom Oduro 58’); Kevin Kerr (Kay Banjo 58’), Romeo Parkes (Neco Brett 45’ (Jordan Dover63’)), Christiano François (Andrew Lubahn 45’)