Facing off against nine players from Major League Soccer, Bethlehem Steel FC fell to Atlanta United 2, 2-1 at Coolray Field.
In a matchup of two squads with MLS affiliations that saw 31 total fouls, the match went in the host's favor Wednesday evening as Atlanta United got goals from Brandon Vazquez and Oliver Shannon. Steel FC fought back into the contest late, as forward Aidan Apodaca found Derrick Jones to trim the deficit to one.
Facing off against seven players from Atlanta United, Steel FC settled into the contest and nearly opening the scoring in the fifth minute but were denied. After Steel FC goalkeeper Jake McGuire made a reaction save, Steel FC resumed play with a quick ball to Santi Moar. The creative winger dribbled from the flank into the box and fired a right-footed shot that beat the keeper but rang off the far post.
Moments later, Moar forced a turnover near the center stripe and began a Steel FC counter attack. With defenders racing back to stop the Spaniard, he found Chris Nanco but the shot was turned away in the 12th minute.
With momentum on their side, the match turned in the 18th minute as Moar forced a turnover and was taken down on a hard challenge by Miles Robinson that forced the 23-year-old to leave the contest. As Steel FC regrouped, Atlanta United 2 took advantage as Vazquez collected the uncleared ball from the defense and chipped McGuire for the opening goal.
Atlanta doubled its lead in the 50th minute, taking advantage of a set piece that saw Shannon fired a left-footed shot from distance that snuck through the defense and into the back of the net.
Trailing by a goal, Steel FC stepped up the pressure and controlled play over the final 20 minutes of the contest. Relying on its bench for extra energy, the trio of Prosper Chiluya, Drew Skundrich and Apodaca injected the added boost. After a long ball from Chiluya, Apodaca won Steel FC a crucial corner with three minutes remaining. On the service from Adam Najem, Apodaca poked the ball to Jones, who dribbled to his left and beat multiple defenders before finding the back of the net. The goal was Jones’ fourth of 2018 while Apodaca racked up his first professional assist.
Steel FC returns home to continue its very busy stretch against USL-newcomer North Carolina FC on Saturday, July 14. The contest will be the second and final matchup between the two sides with Steel FC looking to complete the series sweep at Goodman Stadium. Kick off Lehigh University is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC (1), Atlanta United 2 (2)
Shots: 20-13 (Atlanta)
Shots On Goal: 7-5 (Atlanta)
Corners: 7-6 (Atlanta)
ATL – 25’ Brandon Vazquez
ATL – 50’ Oliver Shannon (A.J. Cochran)
BST – 87’ Derrick Jones (Aidan Apodaca)
ATL – 18’ Miles Robinson (Yellow Card)
BST – 43’ Brandon Aubrey (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Matt Real, Brandon Aubrey, Matt Mahoney, Olivier Mbaizo; James Chambers, Derrick Jones; Santi Moar (Drew Skundrich 22’), Adam Najem, Chris Nanco (Prosper Chiluya 71’); Tonny Temple (Aidan Apodaca 57’).
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, AJ Paterson, Ben Ofeimu.
ATLANTA UNITED 2 STARTING XI
Alec Kann; Jack Metcalf (Will Crain 61’), A.J. Cochran, Miles Robinson, Sal Zizzo; Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Oliver Shannon; Jon Gallagher, Andrew Carleton, Brandon Vazquez (Lagos Kunga 71’); Romario Williams (Yosef Samuel 81’).
Substitutes not used: Nicolas Caraux, Christopher Goslin, Jose Hernandez, Devon Sandoval.
Officials: Sergii Demianchuk, Kyle Johnston (Assistant), Khadime Sabara (Assistant), James McKean (Fourth Official).
LVHN TEAM NOTES