Derrick Jones Signed To Major League Soccer Contract – But How Much Does It Matter To Bethlehem Steel FC?


Last week, Bethlehem Steel FC saw the veteran centerback Mickey Daley abruptly sent out on loan to the Carolina RailHawks of the American Soccer League and promptly issued statements about how thrilled the club were to see the reliable 29-year-old finally get his chance at the next professional level. This week, BSFC see leading scorer Derrick Jones signed to a Major League Soccer contract by the slumping Philadelphia Union and will undoubtedly yack on endlessly about how wonderful it is to have the top shelf Philadelphia Union Academy churning out truckloads of of quality players not just for the United Soccer League farm club but also the parent MLS side, as well. Meanwhile, even though confident BSFC head coach Brendan Burke has already dared proclaim in public that making the USL playoffs is not necessarily a top priority, the impotent side that has scored the second-least amount of goals in the entire 14-team Eastern Conference this season still really does has every realistic chance at grabbing one of the eight available places for post-season competition.

So how will the promotion of Derrick Jones (18 ga, 18 st, 1486 min, 4 go, 3 as) at this point in time directly affect the playoff prospects for Bethlehem Steel FC?

That will depend upon not only how often the 19-year-old native of Ghana is selected to be a part of the Philadelphia Union’s 18-man squad for any given Major League Soccer match, but also upon how many minutes the teenage defensive midfielder gets in any given MLS game, as well. Ever since the sudden departure of midfielder Vincent Nogueira to French second division side Racing Club Strasbourg, the Union have been using three players to fill the two defensive midfielder positions in Philadelphia’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation with Switzerland World Cup veteran Tranquillo Barnetta and Brian Carroll having been the pairing chosen by head coach Jim Curtin the majority of the time. One paper, the one Union defensive midfielder whose playing time would appear to be most threatened by the mid-season promotion of Jones from the BSFC farm club figures to be Warren Creavalle, the 25-year-old Furman University product who is not necessarily known for his offensive prowess.

Curtin acknowledged, however, that any and all playing time that Jones receives with the Philadelphia Union at the Major League Soccer level will have to be earned in practice – as it should be. The regular reader “Old Soccer Coach” would be the first to acknowledge that what excites the organization the most about Jones would be his physical attributes – his height and speed, to be specific – but also that his passing skills could use more polish to really be able to make a difference at the MLS level. This observer has noted from day one that Jones is genetically-wired to get forward at the first opportunity – which, in of itself, is not an abhorrent trait in any player but it is about knowing when to attack – and wonders whether the more skilled and experienced players to be found at the MLS level will not exploit that particular tendency more often than the players at the third tier USL level are able to.

On the other hand, the Union now find themselves stretched extremely thin in the defensive midfield department because of the recent injury to the Swiss import Barnetta so the fact of the matter is that the newcomer Jones might very well make Philadelphia’s weekly 18-man MLS squad much sooner as compared to later. Considering that Curtin has not deviated from a 4-2-3-1 formation at the start of a match even once all season, it is quite possible that the Academy poster child will be on the Union bench when Philadelphia host visiting Real Salt Lake in Chester this Sunday night. Conventional wisdom says Carroll and Creavalle will start but Jones might been viewed as more preferable cover as directly compared to some of the other possible substitutes for a defensive midfielder’s position such as Leo Fernandes.

Then again, a player like centerback Ken Tribbett or even rookie Joshua Yaro could also be called upon to slide forward into a holding midfielder’s role on an emergency basis. And, although the circuit really does seem to have a number of ridiculous ones, there is no obscure Major League Soccer regulation prohibiting the Philadelphia Union from changing to say, a 4-4-2 formation with either a diamond or box-shaped midfield. Therefore, as has been the case with so many others already this season, fledgling Bethlehem Steel FC will simply have to wait and see whether or not its leading goal-scorer Jones will be available to play in its United Soccer League match against visiting Toronto FC II at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium this Sunday afternoon.

Looking at matters over the ‘long haul’, i.e., the duration of Bethlehem Steel FC’s inaugural United Soccer League season, it is extremely difficult to project exactly how many of BSFC’s remaining games Jones, who certainly has been influential at the USL level, will be participating in. Barnetta is not expected to be sidelined forever and United States World Cup veteran Maurice Edu is (and has been) widely expected to be returning to action anytime soon so, again, Jones getting a place in the Philadelphia Union 18-man squad week in and week out is far from guaranteed. Then again, the is also no question whatsoever that the organization are going to want to give Jones a shirt and some minutes if only to tout the merits of their magnificent youth team structure as many times as circumstances will reasonably permit.

Of course, in theory, if Jones has a spot on the Union’s 18-man roster then that means another player under Major League Soccer contract will have to had made way and would, ostensibly, be available to play in the United Soccer League for the Bethlehem Steel FC reserve team currently hunting a playoff berth …

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BSFC’s Eric Ayuk Ostensibly Cited As One Of Cameroon’s Three Best Players


The bad news for fledgling Bethlehem Steel FC has been that skillful as well as speedy winger Eric Ayuk has missed twelve of his club team’s last thirteen United Soccer League matches this spring and summer while away on duty with the Cameroon U-20 national team. The good news for the Philadelphia Union’s reserve side is the 19-year-old two-way flank player has, for all intents and purposes, been cited as one of his country’s three best players of the recently completed 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign in an article written by Cameroon-Info.Net author Jean-Marie Nkoussa. Even more encouraging for BSFC head coach Brendan Burke’s troops is the fact that, barring injury or promotion to the Union’s weekly 18-man squad, the menacing Ayuk should be available threaten opposing USL defenders for the duration of this 2016 season.

Which is sensational stuff because not only are punchless Bethlehem Steel FC actually right in the thick of a bona fide playoff chase at this very moment in time, but also because BSFC are quite simply one of the least potent sides in the entire 14-team Eastern Conference as the record clearly shows.

As has already been observed from having followed the entire qualification campaign, it seems as a great many in the domestic media have bought into the ruling body FECAFOOT’s desire return the Cameroon national soccer team to the levels of glory that have been achieved in the past. Nkoussa references that it was the generation of would-be Olympic gold medalist and two-time FIFA World Cup striker Patrice Mboma that offered the proud country the only U-20 Africa Cup of Nations title to its credit back in 1995. The writer also reminds the audience that the current crop of young Cameroon national team stars — striker Vincent Aboubakar of Portuguese giant FC Porto, midfielder Jacques Zoua of French first division side Gazelec Ajaccio and winger Edgar Salli of German second division side 1.FC Nuremburg — were all turning out for Young Indomitable Lions at the U-20 level not so long ago.

And then Nkoussa pens that “it is now up to the Samuel Oum, Eric Ayuk and Martin Hongla generation to write a new page in the history of Cameroon.”

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Libya Wins But Cameroon Qualifies For 2017 U20 Africa Cup of Nations

On a wild and crazy weekend that saw two of the continents’ traditional heavyweights at this particular level crash out of the competition at the final qualification hurdle, the late goal which gave Libya a 1-0 second leg victory at the neutral site location in Tunisia was not anywhere near enough to prevent Cameroon from winning the third round tie 3-1 on aggregate and qualifying for the 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations final tournament to be held in Zambia next February.

Libya captain Aiaa Masaud, who had a penalty kick saved by Cameroon netminder Simon Medji Omossola in the 89th minute of the first leg in Bafoussam two weeks ago, netted his side’s only goal of the entire third round in the 87th minute of the second leg in Tunisia. It was the first goal that Omossola, the 18-year-old who is under contract to the powerful Coton Sport Gorua club in the domestic top flight, has conceded in four U-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches for Cameroon this late spring and summer. Such a blemish on his defensive record still could not stop the Young Indomitable Lions from qualifying for the biennial U-20 Africa Cup of Nations for the ninth time since the final tournament part of the competition was created in 1991.

Bethlehem Steel FC winger Eric Ayuk, the speedster on the right flank who scored an important goal during the 3-0 defeat of Zimbabwe in the second round, retained his place in Cameroon U-20 national team trainer Cyprian Besong Ashu‘s first team against Libya and became one of just five players to have started all four of the qualification matches for Les Lionceaux this term. Besong Ashu actually only made one change to the Cameroonian side which rolled past Libya 3-0 in the first leg of the third round a fortnight ago. Martin Yma Hongla, the 18-year-old midfielder from third division side Nkoufor Yaounde who also scored against Zimbabwe in the second round and added another goal and two assists versus the Libyans in the first leg of the third round, was dropped in favor of Herve Andiolo Bodiong, the 19-year-old midfielder who is under contract to French second division club FC Tours but spent all of last season playing for Pafos FC in Cyprus.

Cameroon line-up versus Libya
Omossola – Ngah, Ndedi, Ele, Mbaissidara – Bodiong, Oum – Jih, Mpinbdi, Ayuk – Chenkam (Zanga 73)

Elsewhere on the continent, defending champion Nigeria were surprisingly if unceremoniously dumped out of the competition on home turf by the heavy underdogs from Sudan. The Nigerians, who have qualified for ten of the thirteen U-20 Africa Cup of Nations final tournaments played to date and are easily the competition’s all-time champion having won a total of seven titles since 1979, looked to have done the hard part after winning the first leg on the road in Omdurman a couple of weeks ago and were winning 2-1 forty minutes into the return match in Lagos, as well. But, despite being reduced by ten men, the shorthanded Sudanese rallied to win the second leg 4-3 and, thus, knock mighty Nigeria out on the away goals rule to qualify for the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations final tournament for just the second time ever.

Meanwhile, three-time U-20 Africa Cup of Nations champion Ghana also failed to qualify for the 2017 final tournament to be held in Zambia after losing to upstart Senegal 3-2 on aggregate. After winning the first leg in Dakar two weeks ago, the beaten finalists at the 2015 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations only went down to Ghana 1-0 on Friday and joyfully confirmed their place at the tournament in Zambia. Astonishingly enough, the upcoming 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations will mark the first time since the final tournament was inaugurated in 1991 that either Nigeria or Ghana will not be present at the continent’s premier event for this age group.

The weekend’s other four successful sides from the third and final round of qualification included the competition’s three-time champion Egypt, South Africa, Mali as well as Guinea.


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Bethlehem Steel FC And Rochester Rhinos Finish On Level Terms

A tale of two totally different halves on a rather hot day did not result in a particularly happy ending for either side as gracious host Bethlehem Steel FC and visiting Rochester Rhinos finished on level 1-1 terms to share the points in United Soccer League action at Goodman Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The team from upstate New York might actually be little bit happier, though, it will be noted for the historical record.

The Rochester Rhinos, who had lost just 4 of 18 USL matches this season, looked every inch the part of a team that had come to play for a scoreless draw in the opening forty-five minutes and were extremely reluctant to go forward with any numbers once passing a certain invisible line on the pitch. Bethlehem Steel FC, who have, save perhaps one game versus Toronto FC II, been playing rather solid defense since the 2-2 stalemate with the Rhinos in Rochester back on May 28th, were more than happy to fill first half power vacuum while outshooting their opponents 6-1 along the way. But BSFC never did add to its lead after highly touted midfield prospect Derrick Jones scored his fourth goal in the USL this season after easily intercepting an utterly horrible pass by the Rhinos back line and head coach Brendan Burke‘s club would play just long enough to regret that little oversight.

After the halftime break, the Rochester Rhinos were noticeably far more serious about sending players forward into the attack and were rewarded for their courage with an equalizer shortly before the hour. Although the visitors never reverted back to their initial conservatism, the would be obvious limits placed on adventurism once equilibrium was achieved. More evidence that Rochester were always planning to be content with a tie is offered by the fact that the Rhinos brought on fourth and fifth substitutes to help kill off the clock in the dying minutes of the match.

Meanwhile, a tired-looking Bethlehem Steel FC were outshot by the decisive margin of 5-1 over the final forty-five minutes. None of the three substitutes introduced by the BSFC bench boss Burke — Jamaican striker Corey Burke or the two North American wingers, Josh Heard and Jamie Luchini — were able to inject any life into an attack which has basically struggled to score goals all season long, to be brutally frank. This is evidenced by the fact that only two teams in the United Soccer League’s entire 14-team Eastern Conference have put fewer balls in the back of the opponents’ net than BSFC has and that translates directly into slim pickings for the Philadelphia Union from what is supposed to be the MLS side’s top farm club.

But, as far as the Eastern Conference post-season picture is concerned, the status quo was maintained this weekend and so all is still left for fledgling Bethlehem Steel FC to fight for.


Bethlehem Steel FC 1:1 Rochester Rhinos

July 24, 2016
Goodman Stadium – Saucon Valley, Pennsylvania
Attendance – 1,996

Bethlehem Steel FC : M. Jones – Washington, Anderson, Bibbs, Richter – Akinyode, D. Jones – Gissie (Heard 67), Chambers, Missimo (Burke 76) – Conneh (Luchini 85)

unused subs : Badr – Fred, Fontana, Brown

Rochester Rhinos : Grinwis – Kamdem (D. Samuel 82), Apostolopoulos, Farrell, Fall – Tergou (A. Samuels 82), Forbes, Garzi (Reilly 90), James – Volesky (Totch 82), Dos Santos (Giulavogui 88)

goals – D. Jones 20, Forbes 57


Bethlehem Steel FC vs Rochester Rhinos
Attempts At Goal chart

9th min …… BSFC – Missimo shot wide
10th min …. BSFC – Conneh shot wide
20th min … BSFC – D. Jones GOAL
22nd min … BSFC – Conneh shot saved
38th min …. BSFC – Chambers shot saved
39th min …. BSFC – Gissie header saved
inj time …… ROCH – Volesky shot wide
47th min …. ROCH – Volesky shot over
52nd min … BSFC – Akinyode shot blocked by defender
57th min …. ROCH – Forbes GOAL
75th min …. ROCH – Dos Santos shot blocked by defender
75th min …. ROCH – Tergou shot wide
90th min … ROCH – A. Samuels shot wide


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Cameroon Only 90 Minutes From U20 Africa Cup Of Nations In Zambia

(photo courtesy official Fecafoot twitter account)

The distance between the two capital cities of Yaounde and Lusaka are said to be separated by a distance of roughly 1,730 miles but, as matters stand at present, high-flying Cameroon now find themselves just a 90-minute journey away from qualifying for the 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations final tournament which will be hosted in seven months’ time by Zambia.

Ironically enough, trainer Cyprian Besong Ashu and his in-form Cameroon U-20 national team which includes Bethlehem Steel FC winger Eric Ayuk began its qualification campaign back in May by making the roughly 2,000-mile trek to Harare for the first leg of its second round fixture against Zimbabwe, which is, of course, the southern neighbor of Zambia on the southern end of the African continent. Two months later, “Les Lionceaux” conclude its qualification campaign by traveling approximately 2,300 miles to the northern tip for the third round, second leg match versus Libya to be played at a neutral site venue in the country of Tunisia.

The Cameroonian contingent arrived in the Mediterranean city of Tunis on Wednesday and have been preparing meet their Libyan opponents, who were comfortably beaten 3-0 in the first leg at the Stade Ominisport de Bafoussam a fortnight ago, ever since. The match will be taking place at what has been reported by a number of different Cameroonian media sources as the “stade municipal du Carthage” although the official name of this particular facility which is pictured above remains unclear to this blog. Meanwhile, the official website of Confederation Africaine de Football, the all-powerful ruling body which oversees the continental tournament, lists the stadium location as “Albalady Akram”.

Carthage, of course, was the massive capital city of an ancient civilization that was ultimately conquered and absorbed by the Romans. Much smaller, nowadays it is a suburb of the modern-day capital city of Tunisia. For the benefit of those who would otherwise not know, the reason why the Cameroon will be playing Libya at a neutral sight venue is because of the latter’s ongoing domestic security issues — it is Libya who were originally awarded the right to host the 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations final tournament until before forced to withdraw almost two years ago in August of 2014.


The Libyans are obviously in a big hole and, provided they do not concede to a Cameroonian side which has scored six times in its last two qualification matches, must win by an unrealistic margin of four goals in order to avoid going straight to penalty kicks. Should Besong Ashu’s charges find the back of the net in Tunisia at least once, then heavy underdog Libya would have to win the second leg tie by a margin of at least four goals, period. The task at hand for the nominal home team certainly appears to be a daunting one.

Aside from simply achieving qualification in Tunis, there is almost no doubt that the Cameroon trainer Besong Ashu is also looking beyond the third round, second leg fixture against Libya and hoping to build some consistency as well as a little comradery in the squad that will be competing at the 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations final tournament, itself, seven months down the road.

But the primary task at hand is punching a ticket to Zambia and therefore it is highly unlikely that Besong Ashu will make too many changes to the Young Indomitable Lions first team that wrecked Libya in Bafoussam. Six players including the BSFC winger Ayuk, who netted his first international goal against Zimbabwe at the Stade Ominisport de Bafoussam back on June 12th, have each started all three qualification matches for Cameroon and will most likely form the core of the side appearing against the Libyans on Sunday. Simon Medjo Omossola of domestic top flight side Coton Sport Goruna is hoping to extend his personal shutout string between the proverbial sticks for Cameroon to four consecutive qualifcation matches while midfielder Martin Yma Hongla of third division club Nkoufor Yaounde will be aiming to notch his third goal of this 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations campaign for Cameroon.


Hongla also had two assists the third round, first leg match versus Libya in Bafoussam and is a player who will need to be accounted for in Tunisia. It should be interesting to see if Felix Ngangle Chenkam retains his place up front for Cameroon at the pivotal central striker position against Libya. The 17-year-old marksman from first division club Union Sportive Douala has scored two goals in exactly as many qualification matches, the first on a spectacular effort from damn near midfield after coming on as a late second half substitute in the second round, second leg tie versus Zimbabwe.

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Cameroon v Libya : U20 Africa Cup of Nations 3rd Round 1st Leg Highlights


Attention – if you happen to be one of the very few readers who have actually been paying any attention whatsoever to this particular blog’s unique coverage of Cameroon’s 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign but, like this very blog’s own author, seem to be having great difficulty getting psyched up for the decisive second leg of the third and final round tie with Libya at the neutral site venue in Tunisia this weekend, then perhaps this can help!

Yes, comprehensive highlights lasting six and a half minutes of Cameroon’s convincing 3-0 triumph over Libya in the third round, first leg match contested at the Stade Ominisport de Bafoussam on July 10, 2016 :

Be advised that watching this YouTube tape will confirm that it was, indeed, Martin Yma Hongla (# 18), the 18-year-old midfielder from domestic third division side Nkoufor Yaounde, who provided the assist on the Cameroonians’ opening goal of the game. To review quickly for the benefit of those not up to speed, there were several conflicting accounts with regards to which player claimed the assist on the strike from Felix Ngangle Chenkam (# 9) in the various match reports read by this blog. Full marks to Eric Vincent Fumo from “ActuCameroun” for getting things spot on.

And so it was a highly influential Hongla, who also notched Cameroon’s second in the 45th minute and delivered the through ball that enabled substitute striker Preston Tabortetaka (# 19) to find the back of the net for a third in the 53rd minute, who had a direct hand in all three of the Young Indomitable Lions’ goals against an obvious outclassed Libya U-20 national team side.

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See Bethlehem Steel FC’s Eric Ayuk Become “The Bafoussam Bomber”


As evidenced by the “Bafoussam : Eric Ayuk Mbu Entre Dans L’Historie” article which appeared at the major online “Camfoot” sports site, some in the domestic media certainly made a big enough deal about the winger under contract to the Philadelphia Union from Major League Soccer who has been playing in the United Soccer League for Bethlehem Steel FC this season scoring the very first ‘official’ goal in the brand new Stade Ominisport de Bafoussam stadium in Cameroon’s decisive 3-0 triumph over visiting Zimbabwe in the second round, second leg 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match back on June 12th.

Ayuk received glowing praise for what was described as an angled shot that flew into the top corner, leaving Zimbabwe goalkeeper Nelson Chadya absolutely no chance. But is that, in fact, what really happened on that ‘history-making’ day in Bafoussam? One must remember that a good many of the reports available from accredited professional sources are quite possibly being written by first-hand observers who very well might not have access to video replay equipment at the stadium and must rely strictly on memory when chronicling their own individual version of events.

(All people who follow the United Soccer League, author included, are extremely fortunate to have the ability to not only watch all USL matches live on YouTube, but also review the video replays at one’s own convenience)

Therefore, it is up to the individual reader to watch the highlights from the Cameroon v Zimbabwe match at the Stade Omnisport de Bafoussam and then sit in judgement of whether or not Eric Ayuk’s goal in the 18th minute was a truly top class finish worthy of the international occasion … unquestionably, both Union and BSFC supporters will notice that Ayuk celebrated his first-ever goal in a Cameroon shirt with his trademark back flip routine :

Viewers will note that the Cameroon v Zimbabwe highlights do not show the third and final goal scored in 88th minute by Felix Ngagnle Chenkam, the one that the 17-year-old substitute striker from Union Sportive Douala is said to have scored from pretty much near the midfield stripe. The obvious question at hand is did that really happen or did the ‘hometown journalistic crowd’ happen to embellish that one perhaps a little bit in order to boost dramatic effect? Luckily, there is a YouTube tape of the entire Cameroon v Zimbabwe match to settle the issue once and for all.

Those wishing to cut to the chase, so to speak, will be happy to skip ahead to the 1:13:26 mark on the YouTube tape which has been conveniently edited to eliminate of the ‘dead time’ during any normal soccer such as when a player lingers about on the pitch, etc :

CAMEROON line-up

# 16 … goalkeeper ….. Simon Medjo Omossola ……… Coton Sport Gorua

# 12 … left back ………. Gael Fabrice Ngah ……………… UMS Loum
# 3 ….. centerback ….. Karl Junior Kegne Ndedi ……. Botofogo Douala
# 13 … centerback ….. Rodrique Ebolo Ele ……………. AS Fortuna Mfou
# 15 … right back ……. Olivier Mbaizo Mbaissidara … Union Sportive Douala

# 18 … def midfield … Martin Yma Hongla ……………. Nkoufor Yaounde
# 6 ….. def midfield … Samuel Gouet Oum (capt) ….. Apejes Mfou

# 7 ….. left wing ……… Franck Landry Mikal ………….. RSC Anderlecht (BEL)
# 10 … att midfield …. Victor Ekani Mpindi ………….. AS Fortuna Mfou
# 11 …. right wing ……. Eric Ayuk ………………………….. Bethlehem Steel FC (USA)

# 5 ….. striker …………. Thomas Olivier Amang ……… FK Molde (NOR)

# 20 … left wing ……… Farrel Eric Mben ………………. Avion Nkam
# 9 ….. striker …………. Felix Ngangle Chenkam …….. Union Sportive Douala
# 17 …. att midfield …. Felix Djoubairou ……………….. Coton Sport Gorua

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