Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Steel
In the first of their two scrimmages on Thursday, Bethlehem Steel FC tied Harrisburg City Islanders 1-1.
James Chambers caught the Harrisburg goalkeeper off his line and volleyed over the keeper’s head to ricochet off the near post into the far corner of the net for the Steel in the 24th minute.
Harrisburg stole a wind-altered Steel corner kick clearance and easily knotted the score in the 69th.
Bethlehem featured a lineup of five Steel-contracted professionals, five YSC Academy players, and trialist and Obinna Iloka at left center back.
The match was strongly affected by the wind, as evidenced by the above-mentioned equalizer by the City Islanders. The snow also contributed to altering the play as it forced every corner to be taken short.
With the wind aiding the Steel in the first half, the match was fairly even in possession and scoring chances but after the interval the Steel had trouble adjusting to the conditions. Harrisburg created several intervals of sustained pressure highlighted by a triple save at point blank range from Steel keeper Tomas Romero. While the vertical clearance that led to the goal was unfortunate, City Islanders also had goals disallowed for offside.
It seems fairly clear that the current Union USL affiliate and the former one both feel each has something to prove to the other leading to a rather chippy match.
Bethlehem then went on to play Notre Dame in a second friendly the same day, falling 2-1 on a pair of goals from the Irish’s Jon Gallagher. Marcus Epps scored for the home side.
- The captain: The Steel’s reliance on James Chambers’ distribution from defensive center midfield is vulnerable to a stiff wind. One such driven ball’s trajectory into the wind outlined a shepherd’s crook, a full 180.
- An athlete: Mark McKenzie’s speed at right center back stopped two breakaways. Wake Forest University should be excited about their recruit.
- A silver lining: In the 41st minute, former Philadelphia Union man and City Islander mainstay Aaron Wheeler went down due to an unknown injury and was substituted. But that led to the City Islanders playing at a higher tempo.
Bethlehem: Tomas Romero* (Matt Freese*** ’70); Nyk Sessock*, Mark McKenzie*, Obinna Iloka ** (Freeman Dwamena* ’61), Dawson McCartney*; James Chambers, Josh Heard; Issa Rayyan* (Darius Lewis ’70), Chris Nanco (Jacob Shaffelburg* ’70), Yosef Samuel; Seku Conneh. unused subs: none.
*Academy player, **trialist, ***plays for Academy U-18s, but not enrolled as a classroom student