Playing in the club’s first road match of 2018, Bethlehem Steel FC fell to the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 2-0.
Tested often by one of the United Soccer League’s top offensive teams, Philadelphia Union goalkeeper John McCarthy kept Steel FC within striking range with seven saves in the first half. Tampa Bay fired 26 shots overall, with McCarthy turning away nine in the contest.
The opening half saw both clubs looking to establish their tempo and possession in the early moments of the match. After turning away a Rowdies corner kick, Union midfielder Marcus Epps utilized his speed down the left flank in the sixth minute. Collecting a volley from defender Prosper Chiluya that beat the defender, Epps dribbled into the 18-yard box and fired toward the net that was deflected wide for the club’s first corner.
Steel FC looked for the early tally on the ensuing set piece taken by Matt Mahoney. With a quick restart to the edge of the box toward Steel FC team captain James Chambers. The 31-year-old lifted a curling ball into the box that Cory Burke headed on frame but denied by Tampa Bay’s Cody Mizell.
After a strong defensive performance, Tampa Bay finally broke through in the 62nd minute on a set piece opportunity. After Sebastian Guenzatti drew a free kick on the right wing, midfielder Jack Blake served into the box a cross that was headed home by veteran Georgi Hristov.
Six minutes later, Tampa Bay got the insurance goal as Leo Fernandes collected a pass from defender David Najem and fired a left-footed shot into the net for the two-goal lead.
With time winding down, Steel FC fought to trim the deficit, with Chambers seeing a right-footed shot at the edge of the box turned away by Mizell. Moments later, Brandon Aubrey headed down a corner kick toward substitute Mike Catalano but saw his attempt inside the box just miss the near post.
Steel FC begins a season-long three-match home stand next weekend. The action at Godman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University begins against USL-newcomers Nashville SC. Kick off from Bethlehem is scheduled for 2 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Steel FC ticket office at 1-844-STEELFC.
Bethlehem Steel FC 0, Tampa Bay Rowdies 2
Al Lang Stadium
St. Petersburg, FL
Shots: 26-7 (Tampa Bay)
Shots On Goal: 12-4 (Tampa Bay)
Corners: 11-4 (Tampa Bay)
Saves: 9-4 (Bethlehem)
TBR – 62’ Georgi Hristov (Jack Blake)
TBR – 68’ Leo Fernandes (David Najem)
BST – 54’ Fabian Herbers (Yellow Card)
TBR – 90’ David Najem (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
John McCarthy; Prosper Chiluya (Mike Catalano 82’), AJ Paterson, Brandon Aubrey, Matthew Mahoney; James Chambers, Derrick Jones; Marcus Epps, Anthony Fontana, Fabian Herbers (Santi Moar 67’); Cory Burke (Brandon Allen 75’).
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, Chris Nanco, Tonny Temple.
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES STARTING XI
Cody Mizell; Zachary Portillos, Neill Collins, Hunter Gorskie, David Najem; Marcel Schafer, Jack Blake, Joe Cole (Lance Rozeboom 75’); Leo Fernandes, Georgi Hristov, Junior Flemmings (Sebastian Guenzatti 33’; Jochen Graf 90’).
Substitutes not used: Akira Fitzgerald, Michael Nanchoff, Max Lachowecki, Ivan Magalhaes.
LVHN TEAM NOTES