USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem 1 – 3 Louisville

Photo courtesy USL

Bethlehem Steel FC finished the most difficult two-game four-day stretch of its 2017 season with a 1-3 loss to Louisville City FC Sunday evening at Goodman Stadium.

Free kicks and physicality provided the visitors with all three goals. The first and third were headed home from free kicks, and the second came from a keeper spill of a third headed shot. Striker Luke Spencer collected the first two in the 17th and 26th minutes, with his replacement, Cameron Lancaster, notching the third in the 88th.

For the Steel, Richie Marquez headed one home from a free kick served by Aaron Jones in the 41st.

In the run of play, while Louisville’s precision was more consistent than Bethlehem’s, Bethlehem belonged on the pitch with the Kentuckians. The Steel possessed the ball more than Louisville. Shots on goal were equal. Only in the first 15 to 20 minutes did Louisville dominate the game. After that, the teams were both dangerous and fairly even.

Head coach Brendan Burke will be disappointed that the score suggests his side were out-classed because they were not. Greg Ranjitsingh, the Louisville goalkeeper, had to make five strong saves, and several other quality chances were sent just outside the frame.

The most intriguing Steel tactical development was the degree to which James Chambers played attacking center mid. He began at the number 10 because Maurice Edu started next to Derrick Jones in the double pivot. But when Anthony Fontana came on for Edu in the 32nd minute, Chambers stayed forward in the attack. He was crucial to the middle period of the game when the Steel were heavily pressuring Louisville.

It should also be said that Fontana played quite well as the box-to-box midfielder. As he grows and matures, that may be his better position. One game does not a conclusion justify, but it was definitely suggestive.

Santi Moar provided the Louisville defense several excellent opportunities to show their quality. His ball control, passing, and shooting forced at least three of Louisville’s six saves.

Louisville left back Oscar Jimenez was initialed all three goals even though not credited with the third assist.  His service found Luke Spencer’s head for the shot that rebounded off Steel keeper Tomas Romero — which rebound Spencer then scored — in addition to his two free kick assists.

Three Points

Mo: Union fans will focus on Maurice Edu’s first game minutes in eleven months. He totaled 23 touches and completed 17 out 17 passes.  He played within himself and his role.  His practice opportunities to integrate into the Steel created by the first team’s absence on the West Coast were clearly beneficial.

Louisville’s striker: Luke Spencer provided the Steel center backs with real challenges. He was a handful for Richie Marquez, both for pace and strength. The Union center back raised his game in response, but the curiosity bug wonders why Spencer is not on some MLS team’s radar. Auston Trusty had pace sufficient to counter him and did well in their Greco-Roman wrestling bouts in the box.

Football yardlines do not lie: Referee Luis Arroyo provided the patrons with a moment of black comedy when on one Steel free kick, two yards inside one of the American football yardlines marked on the field, he allowed the wall to set up eight yards away, and refused to correct the error that was obvious to every person in attendance. Ego was much more important than getting it right, an unfortunate impression for a referee to create in any sport.

Lineups:

Bethlehem: Tomas Romero**; Aaron Jones*, Richie Marquez*, Auston Trusty*, Matt Real; Derrick Jones*, Maurice Edu* (Anthony Fontana** 32’); Chris Nanco, James Chambers (c), Santi Moar (Seku Conneh 70’); Cory Burke (Yosef Samuel 88’). Unused substitutes: Kris Shakes**; Hugh Roberts, Matt Maloney, Josh Heard.

Louisville: Greg Ranjitsingh; Kyle Smith (c), Paco Craig, Sean Reynolds, Sean Totsch, Oscar Jimenez; Guy Abend, Devon Williams, Niall McCabe (Richard Ballard 60’); Mark-Anthony Kaye, Luke Spencer (Cameron Lancaster 60’). Unused substitutes: Tim Dobrowolski; Ilija Ilic, George Davis IV, Tarek Morad.

Scoring Summary:

Louisville           17th minute         Luke Spencer (Oscar Jimenez)
Louisville           26th minute        Luke Spencer
Bethlehem         41st minute         Richie Marquez (Aaron Jones)
Louisville           88th minute        Cameron Lancaster (Oscar Jimenez)

Disciplinary Summary:

Bethlehem         60th minute        Anthony Fontana     yellow card (foul)
Louisville           64th minute        Guy Abend                 yellow card (foul)
Bethlehem         90+1 minute       Yosef Samuel             yellow card (dangerous play)
Louisville           90+1 minute       Kyle Smith                 red card (violent conduct)

Referee: Luis Arroyo

4 Comments

  1. You’re definitely the go to USL scout. As to your point about why Spencer isn’t on more radars, I’d read an article recently (fourfourtwo?) about why MLS teams don’t want to pay transfer fees for USL players. I’m sure he’s been scouted as he plays MLS II squads, but a $50k fee on top of a $50k salary means MLS would prefer their own guy at $50k or a kid out of college. The budget balancing at the far end of the bench means no one will take a flyer til he’s out of contract and then bring him in on a free. He may prefer to go the USL/NASL route instead of getting the “follow your MLS dream but at a discount ” hard sell from an MLS club.

    • The solution is for USL teams to compete with MLS for college players by offering them more than MLS league minimum. Hard to say if this will happen though since the independent USL teams seem content to take whatever MLS gives them.

    • Thank you, Scotty Mac, but turning red with embarrassment.

    • Yes. Some of the silly effects of the current salary cap structure. It’s bad for the overall quality of the league, as in many ways, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

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