USL Match report

Preseason match report: Bethlehem Steel 2-0 Syracuse

Photo: Steel Communications

Bethlehem Steel FC got goals from Brandon Allen and Audi Jepson and kept a shutout in a Saturday afternoon preseason scrimmage at YSC Sports, defeating Syracuse University 2-0.

The match itself saw Syracuse on the front foot for the first twenty minutes, having plenty of chances but putting very few on frame. The Steel group settled in as the visitors’ energy began to wane, and the difference between college and professional showed in the ability to finish their chances.

Striker Brandon Allen converted a penalty kick in the 26th minute after trialist Joe Gallardo drew the foul in the box. Four minutes later, trialist Audi Jepson scored unassisted, deceiving the Syracuse goalkeeper with a shot that drew right rather than the expected left.

The second half saw greater Orange depth influence the flow of the game, complemented by the increasing tiredness of Bethlehem. Keasel Broome at goalkeeper preserved the shutout in the 87th minute, stoning a wide-open unmarked winger from about ten yards out.

Steel head coach Brendan Burke characterized Syracuse as a strong opponent who stretched his team quite a bit. He was pleased his charges gutted it out without conceding. He was especially pleased with Union draft pick Mike Catalano, who dictated the match from defensive center midfield in place of the ill James Chambers. Catalano did an excellent job, with both his engine and his distribution running strong at the final whistle.

Three points

1. NCAA rules prohibit high school players playing against college ones, so the Steel had 15 players available, originally. The flu reduced the number to 12. Local trialist A kept goal, and local trialist B dressed for the second half as a needed reinforcement. The game was a gut check for seven of the starters who had to play the full 90 minutes — good preparation for the unexpected circumstances that the USL side will face all season.

2. The first team’s return north means it is decision time for surviving trialists. Academy boys can fill out practice rosters, and first team professionals can fill out games, so the simple need for extra soccer bodies becomes whether or not a player fits the organization’s wants and needs. In the next few days a dream or two may be realized, but more will be dashed.

3. It seems obvious to PSP that Mike Catalano will sign with the Steel. His performance today confirms his ability to spell James Chambers at defensive center mid credibly. Once Omar Holness is returned to full competitiveness, he and Catalano will face off to see who plays central midfield. Should Holness win, Catalano is a sufficiently adaptable soccer player that he may surface at another position.

Scoring Summary

BSFC         26th minute         Brandon Allen (PK)
BSFC         30th minute         Audi Jepson

Bethlehem Steel FC

Keasel Broome**; Mickey George*, Brandon Aubrey, AJ Paterson, Matt Mahoney (Sam Wancowicz* 46′); Mike Catalano, Gregory Messam, Jr.; Audi Jepson, Joe Gallardo (Chris Nanco 77′), Aidan Apodaca (Ryan Richter*** 67′); Brandon Allen.                *trialist       **rehabilitating an injury courtesy of the Union but not signed to them       ***Union Academy youth coach

Syracuse University

Starters: Hendrick Hilpert, Ryan Raposo, Dylan McDonald, Tajon Buchanan, Simon Triantafillou, John-Austin Ricks, Hugo Delhommelle, Jonathan Hagman, Severin Soerlie, Sondre Norheim, Jan Brietenmoser
Substitutes: Pat Castle, Kamal Miller, Adnan Bakalovic, Evan Peters, Petter Strangeland, Lukas Rubio, Djimon Johnson, Manny Nunez, Nikolas Steiner, Matt Pickard, Jake Leahy

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