Led by a strong defensive game plan, Bethlehem Steel FC remained in control of its own USL Cup Playoff destiny with a scoreless draw at Ottawa Fury FC.
With the result, Steel FC began the first half of its final road trip of the regular season with yet another shutout. The defense limited Ottawa to only three shots on target out of 16 attempted by the home side while being on the fortunate side with four shots off the post. Steel FC remains one point ahead of Ottawa with two regular-season matches remaining and in sixth place in the USL’s Eastern Conference.
Ottawa nearly jumped out to the early lead in the fifth minute as Olivier Mbaizo committed a foul inside the box. However, Ottawa forward Steevan Dos Santos rang his shot from the penalty spot off the post to keep the match level. Steel FC settled into the contest after the chance with possession but turned to goalkeeper Jake McGuire in the 23rd minute. After forcing a Steel FC turnover, Dos Santos strung a counter attack but saw his right-footed chance denied by McGuire’s diving effort that redirected the shot off the post.
Both sides traded chances following the McGuire save as defender Matt Mahoney ended another Ottawa attack with a tackle. Collecting the ball, Mahoney found Santi Moar on the wing. The 25-year-old raced down the pitch, cutting inside but saw his curling effort beat the keeper but slice outside the post. Moments later, Fury FC’s Cristian Portilla rang a left-footed try off the post.
Both sides continued to a winning goal in the second half but were unable to claim three points. Steel FC turned to its captain on a free kick opportunity after forward Fabian Herbers was fouled outside the box. Chambers’ smashed a shot over the wall but couldn’t sneak it into the far post. With time running down, Olivier Mbaizo raced up the field and forced a stop by Ottawa’s Maxime Crepeau.
Bethlehem Steel FC now turns its attention to its final road contest of the regular season, traveling to fifth-placed Indy Eleven. The playoff showdown is set for Saturday, October 6 with kick off from Lucas Oil Stadium scheduled for 7 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 0, Ottawa Fury FC 0
TD Place Stadium
Ottawa, ON., Canada
Shots: 16-7 (Ottawa)
Shots on goal: 3-1 (Ottawa)
Corners: 6-3 (Ottawa)
Saves: 3-1 (Bethlehem)
BST – 4’ Olivier Mbaizo (Yellow Card)
BST – 39’ Santi Moar (Yellow Card)
BST – 59’ Ben Ofeimu (Yellow Card)
OTT – 74’ Eddie Edward (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Prosper Chiluya, Ben Ofeimu, Matt Mahoney, Olivier Mbaizo; James Chambers, Anthony Fontana; Santi Moar, Brenden Aaronson (Drew Skundrich 66’), Michee Ngalina (Chris Nanco 78’); Fabian Herbers.
Substitutes not used: Kris Shakes, AJ Paterson, Omar Holness, Aidan Apodaca, Faris.
OTTAWA FURY FC STARTING XI
Maxime Crepeau; Eddie Edward, Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, David Edgar, Carl Haworth; Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare (Jamar Dixon 86’), Cristian Portilla, Chris Mannella; Azake Luboyera (Jimmy-Shammar Sanon 70’), Steevan Dos Santos, Tony Taylor (Daniel Haber 86’)
Substitutes not used: David Monsalve, Onua Obasi, Sergio Manesio, Gabriel Balbinotti.
Officials: Farbuzui Stasolla (Referee), Phil Briere (Assistant Referee), Stephanie Fortin (Assistant Referee), Pierre-Luc Lauziere (Fourth Official).
LVHN TEAM NOTES