Scoreless Tie For Bethlehem Steel FC And Louisville City FC

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A string of saves from the home side’s goalkeeper and a couple of balls that bounced harmlessly off the home team’s extremely wet goal cage conspired to keep the most prolific attack in the United Soccer League‘s Eastern Conference off the scoresheet as punchless Bethlehem Steel FC held visiting Louisville City FC to a 0-0 draw on a rather cold and rainy day at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium.

Once again the brand new reserve side of the Philadelphia Union featured no fewer than seven players with an existing Major League Soccer contract in its starting line-up and, once again, not only was fledgling Bethlehem Steel FC incapable of inserting the little spherical object into the back of the opposition’s big net, BSFC head coach Brendan Burke‘s charges were quite simply unable to even generate more than five genuine attempts at goal over the course of an entire contest for a second consecutive weekend on home ground.

Bethlehem Steel FC have now ‘boasted’ seven MLS players on loan from the Philadelphia Union in their Startelf on four different occasions in the allegedly third tier United Soccer League so far this season but the results on the field have been nothing short of decidedly unflattering — the dismal record of one goal scored in 360 minutes of soccer speaks loud and clear for itself.

From the standpoint of a neutral soccer observer, Bethlehem Steel FC can consider themselves very fortunate to have gotten something from this game. Viewing matters from the prism of player development, it must be noted that BSFC goalkeeper John McCarthy gave what was easily his best performance of this 2016 USL season in the face of an in-form Louisville City FC offense that had racked up a baker’s dozen goals in its first half dozen games going into Sunday’s contest. As is well known, Philadelphia Union first choice Andre Blake will be leaving sometime towards the end of May to join the Jamaica national team as it prepares to play in the 2016 Copa America Centenario tournament and so the La Salle University product will certainly be looking to make his case for some MLS playing time in Blake’s absence by putting his proverbial best foot forward at the USL level.

Bethlehem Steel FC’s story might have had a much happier ending if only defensive midfielder Derrick Jones, the highly touted 19-year-old from Ghana who is the first graduate of Philadelphia Union Academy to sign a professional contract with any team in any league, had been able to direct his header from six yards away on target instead of narrowly missing over the crossbar. It was Jones, himself, who had created the chance in the first place by intercepting a Louisville City FC pass in the offensive third before finding Walter Restrepo out on the right flank nearly two minutes into stoppage time. But a dramatic winner was just not only the cards for BSFC.

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Bethlehem Steel FC 0:0 Louisville City FC

Goodman Stadium – Saucon Valley, Pennsylvania
May 1st, 2016
Attendance : 2018

Bethlehem Steel FC : McCarthy – Washington, Anderson (Daly 78), Trusty, Richter – Akinyode (Chambers 77), Jones – Ayuk (Missimo 72), Fernandes (Luchini 88), Restrepo – Herbers (Conneh 61)

unused subs : Badr – Gissie

Louisville City FC : Ranjitsingh – Newnam, Morad, Reynolds, Smith – Quinn, DelPiccolo – Dacres (Kaye 46), McCabe, Lubahn (Davis 74) – Hoffman (Lancaster 68)

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Bethlehem Steel FC vs Louisville City FC
Attempts At Goal chart

4th min ….. BSFC – Ayuk shot blocked
4th min ….. BSFC – Restrepo shot deflected by defender
18th min … BSFC – Ayuk shot saved
19th min … LOU – Dacres shot deflected by defender
23rd min … LOU – McCabe shot saved
27th min … LOU – McCabe shot wide
31st min …. LOU – Morad header saved
34th min … LOU – Lubahn shot saved
35th min … LOU – Hoffman header wide
39th min … LOU – Dacres shot wide
43rd min … LOU – Quinn shot wide
45th min … LOU – McCabe shot saved
50th min … LOU – McCabe shot saved
55th min … LOU – Lubahn shot off post
76th min … LOU – Kaye header off post
84th min … LOU – Quinn shot blocked by defender
86th min … LOU – Kaye header saved
89th min … LOU – Newnam shot deflected by defender
90th min … BSFC – Luchini shot saved
inj time ….. BSFC – Luchini shot blocked
inj time ….. BSFC – Jones header over
inj time ….. LOU – Lancaster shot over

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Same Starting Line-Up For Bethlehem Steel FC This Sunday?

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(Paul Rudderow photo / Philly Soccer Page)
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Match Day Six arrives for fledgling Bethlehem Steel FC and, for very first time this season, the new reserve side of the Philadelphia Union from Major League Soccer just might field the exact same starting line-up for the second week in a row when high flying Louisville City FC visit Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium for the United Soccer League match on Sunday.

The key to achieving real continuity for Bethlehem Steel FC all appears to revolve around the right centerback position now that it is known that highly touted rookie Joshua Yaro made his third consecutive MLS start and went the full ninety minutes in the Union’s 1-1 standoff with the visiting San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. The highly touted 22-year-old rookie from Georgetown University – the second overall player taken in the first round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft – had started BSFC’s first three games in the USL this season but was suddenly recalled by Philadelphia and has not returned since fellow rookie Ken Tribbett, the 23-year-old from Drexel University who surprisingly made the MLS roster in training cup after spending all of last season with the USL’s Harrisburg City Islanders, went down with an injured ankle a couple of weeks ago. In an obvious move to provide a little-used player with some always useful match fitness, the Philadelphia Union loaned Brazilian defender Anderson Conceicao to Bethlehem Steel FC last weekend and so the most obvious question pertains to whether or not the 26-year-old veteran who made 16 appearances for Real Mallorca in the crack Spanish La Liga during the 2012/13 season will once again be farmed out play for the USL reserve side.

There is, of course, the possibility that the Philadelphia Union technical staff will want Tribbett to test his ankle by finally playing a game for Bethlehem Steel FC, the club that the emerging centerback originally signed a USL contract with this past winter. Given the organization’s stated policy and consistent actions, it is all but assured that youthful Auston Trusty, the 17-year-old Philadelphia Union Academy player, starts his fourth consecutive USL match for Bethlehem Steel FC against Louisville City FC on Sunday. Mickey Daly, the 28-year-old veteran free agent signing who was a Second Team USL All-Star for Sacramento Republic FC last season, will probably be held in reserve as cover once again.

Taylor Washington, the 22-year-old rookie left back from George Mason University who has an MLS contract but did not make the Philadelphia Union’s bench, and Ryan Richter, the 26-year-old veteran right back from La Salle University who is the one and only player to have played every single minute of all five of expansion side Bethlehem Steel FC’s USL matches this season, will retain their places on the flanks. John McCarthy, the 23-year-old who also hails from La Salle University and who also collects an MLS paycheck but has yet to play a game in the top flight of American soccer yet this season, will maintain his spot between the sticks for BSFC. McCarthy has made a dozen saves while conceding seven times in the United Soccer League so far this term according to this blog’s count.

The defensive midfield partnership of Bolu Akinyode, the 21-year-old Nigerian from Seton Hall University who played in 21 USL games (10 starts, 1135 minutes, 1 goal) for New York Red Bulls II last season and Derrick Jones, the highly touted 19-year-old from Ghana who is the very first graduate of Philadelphia Union Academy to ever sign a professional contract with any club in any league anywhere in the world, will not be disrupted. It must be noted that the natural skill and imposing physical size of Jones becomes more and more apparent with every passing game for Bethlehem Steel FC, particularly now that the promising teenager is learning how to maintain a proper team shape in his new role as a defensive midfielder. The “upside potential” of the Akinyode & Jones pairing means that there will once again be no place in the BSFC Startelf for James Chambers, the 29-year-old veteran from the Republic of Ireland who was so unlucky to smash his shot off the post against FC Montreal in the USL season opener at the Olympic Stadium in Canada.

Eric Ayuk, the 19-year-old from Cameroon who has been the one and only Philadelphia Union offensive player who has been able to have any sort of consistent meaningful impact on Bethlehem Steel FC’s ability to score goals in the United Soccer League this season, will undoubtedly be one of two wingers in BSFC head coach Brendan Burke’s line-up although exactly which side he patrols is open to speculation. Walter Restrepo, the obviously talented but also frustrating 27-year-old Colombian-American who previously has been twice named an all-league selection by the second tier North American Soccer League in his career, was BSFC’s most dangerous attacking player versus the Charleston Battery last weekend but does not really fit into the “prospect” category and does not do so much to adhere to a disciplined defensive philosophy, either. Cole Missimo, the 23-year-old rookie professional from Northwestern University who was the fourth round pick (# 64 overall) of the Philadelphia Union at the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, might regain a starting place simply so that the organization can continue the winger’s evaluation process.

Leo Fernandes, the 24-year-old Brazilian-American who started Philadelphia’s first two MLS games of this 2016 season but has only managed four substitute appearances totaling 32 minutes in the Union’s last half dozen MLS matches since, will once again feature as the pivotal central attacking midfielder for Bethlehem Steel FC in the United Soccer League.

Fabian Herbers, the 22-year-old German rookie who made his seventh MLS appearance this season after coming off the bench at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester to test his skills against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes in the closing stages on Saturday, should once again turn out for Bethlehem Steel FC on Sunday. The sixth overall player taken in the first round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by the Philadelphia Union has yet to show what he can do at the third tier United Soccer League level in earnest. Sitting on the BSFC bench while hoping for his chance at central striker will be Seku Conneh, the 20-year-old Liberia national team player with two seasons’ worth of experience in the Dutch second division.

Still no word on the status of Jamaica national team hopeful Corey Burke, the 24-year-old striker on loan to Bethlehem Steel FC from Rivoli United FC who has apparently been suffering from an undisclosed upper / lower body injury and, as a result, has not so much as played one single minute in the United Soccer League thus far this term.

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Scouting Louisville City FC

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Having noticeably struggled to muster a meager four goals in the first five matches of this still relatively new 2016 United Soccer League season, fledgling Bethlehem Steel FC will face a side which has been extremely suspect at the back to begin this campaign and, what’s more, must now carry on with an extremely inexperienced goalkeeper between the sticks when Louisville City FC come to Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium this Sunday, May 1st.

Louisville City FC, who have no Major League Soccer affiliation whatsoever after severing all ties with Orlando City SC last year, are playing a USL match in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the second weekend in succession after having traveled to the state capital to defeat the Harrisburg City Islanders 3-2 last weekend. Furthermore, Bethlehem Steel FC will be the third straight opponent from Pennsylvania for the Kentucky-based side which is leading the USL’s Eastern Conference at present. This past Wednesday, host Louisville City FC lose their starting goalkeeper but still salvaged a 2-2 tie against the visiting Pittsburgh Greyhounds.

Many eyes at Goodman Stadium will be properly focused on prolific Louisville City FC striker Chandler Hoffman, the former first round draft pick of the Philadelphia Union who is currently leading the entire United Soccer League in goal-scoring at present having found the back of the opponent’s net seven times already this season. The early season form of the former UCLA Bruins standout has made LCFC fans quickly forget all about the loss of Matt Fondy, the acclaimed striker who led the entire USL with 22 goals last season but has since signed with Jacksonville Armada FC of the second tier North American Soccer League. Hoffman features alone up top in a 4-2-3-1 formation for the Louisville City FC side that prefers to build from the back while patiently possessing the ball with a short passing game.

The absence of goalkeeper Scott Goodwin from the visitors’ line-up at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium on Sunday could be very significant. The rather reliable 25-year-old from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill started all but one of Louisville City’s 32 matches from all of the club’s competitions last season (i.e. league, playoffs and U.S. Open Cup) and had been ever present in all six of LCFC’s first half dozen matches to begin this term, as well. The backup netminder for head coach James O’Connor‘s side is extremely inexperienced at the professional level so it would behoove host Bethlehem Steel FC well to wear their accurate shooting boots this week.

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The blog’s expected starting line-up for Louisville City FC :

# 13 … goalkeeper … Greg Ranjitsingh … 25-year-old native Canadian now in second season with Louisville City FC … played NCAA Division I collegiate soccer at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia … appeared in just one United Soccer League match last season as a rookie for LCFC last term and recorded no saves while surrendering two goals in a 2-0 loss to the Charleston Battery on September 12th of last year … conceded a goal from the penalty spot just after coming on as a substitute in LCFC’s 2-2 draw with Pittsburgh but also made a stellar play late in the match to dispossess a Riverhounds player and preserve a share of the spoils for the home side

# 2 ….. left back … Ben Newman … 25-year-old out of Wake Forest University now in his fourth full season as a professional and first for Louisville City FC after signing as a free agent this winter … appeared in the colors of three different clubs in two separate leagues last season after unexpectedly making the Major League Soccer roster of the Colorado Rapids during training camp; started the MLS match and went the full ninety versus New York Red Bulls on April 29th of last year but was then sent out on loan by Colorado to the Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League in May and ultimately signed with the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds after being released by the Rapids in early May … made 11 appearances (11 starts, 990 minutes) for Charlotte in the USL last season and also participated in three U.S. Open Cup matches (three starts, 270 minutes) for the Independence last term, as well, before turning out in five USL contests (four starts, 317 minutes) for Pittsburgh

# 5 … left centerback … Conor Shanosky … 24-year-old veteran now in his second season with Louisville City after spending five years on the books of Major League Soccer club D.C. United from 2010 thru 2014 … spent the entire 2012 season in the second tier North American Soccer League on loan to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and most of the next two seasons in the third tier United Soccer League on loan to the Richmond Kickers; made all five career MLS appearances (three starts, 355 minutes) for D.C. United during the 2013 season … appeared in 26 USL matches (24 starts, 2089 minutes) and scored three goals for Louisville City FC last term … a tall player (6’4″) who is an inviting target on set pieces; scored game-tying goal after wild goalmouth scramble in the 84th minute of 2-2 draw with Pittsburgh Riverhounds this past Wednesday night

# 15 … right centerback … Sean Reynolds … 26-year-old veteran from the University of West Florida now in his second season with Louisville City FC … cut his professional teeth in 2013 with VSI Tampa Bay in the USL Pro league … spent the entire 2014 season playing in the Icelandic top flight with emerging powerhouse Fimleikafelag Hafnarfjaroar, who have now won the domestic title seven times since the start of the new millennium … played every minute of both playoff games for Louisville City FC after appearing in in only 16 USL regular season matches (six starts, 625 minutes) last term

# 20 … right back … Enrique Montano … 22-year-old youngster from San Jose State University who is now in his second season with Louisville City FC … still making the transition to the right side of the pitch after being such a revelation for the club at left back last term … appeared in 23 USL matches (20 starts, 1834 minutes) for Louisville City as a rookie professional last season

# 8 … left defensive midfield … Guy Abend … 25-year-old veteran now in his second full season with Louisville City FC after signing from Israeli second division side Hapoel Ironi Rishon LeZion … spent a total of six years in the Israeli second division after originally turning pro with FC Maccabi Netanya; joined Hapoel Ironi Rishon LeZion at the start of the 2011/12 campaign and appeared in a total of 84 games (five goals) over the course of his three and a half seasons with the club … played in only eight regular season USL matches (five starts, 432 minutes) but appeared in both playoff games (one start) for Louisville City FC last term

# 36 … right defensive midfield … Paolo DelPiccolo … already well-traveled 24-year-old local product of the University of Louisville now in his first season with Louisville City FC after signing as a free agent this winter … tabbed in 2nd round (# 27 overall) of 2013 Major League Soccer SuperDraft by the Montreal Impact but elected to sign with Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt; spent the duration of the 2012/13 German season turning out for reserve side Eintracht Frankfurt II (7 games, 5 starts, 409 minutes, 0 goals) in the fourth division Regionalliga Suedwest before being released by the parent club on June 30th … signed by the Montreal Impact in July of 2013 but never did make any appearances for the club was waived at the end of the MLS season; in training camp with the New England Revolution but was cut just before the start of the 2014 MLS campaign and ultimately spent the year in the United Soccer League with Arizona United SC (27 ga, 26 st, 2187 min, 2 go) … appeared in a total of 26 USL matches (25 starts, 2174 minutes, 0 goals) and three U.S. Open Cup ties (245 minutes) for the Charlotte Independence last term

# 12 … left wing midfielder … Mark-Anthony Kaye … 21-native Canadian now in his first season with Louisville City FC after signing as a free agent this winter … had a brief spell with the Wilmington Hammerheads during the 2014 USL campaign and scored two goals in eight USL contests (7 st, 595 min) … spent all of last season with Toronto FC II and netted two goals in 22 USL games (19 starts, 1659 minutes) … started Louisville City FC’s last USL match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in midweek after coming on as a substitute prior to the halftime whistle the previous week against the Harrisburg City Islanders – ultimately grabbed a dramatic game-winner for LCFC in injury time against the former Philadelphia Union affiliate

# 11 … attacking central midfielder … Niall McCabe … 25-year-old originally from the Republic of Ireland now in his second season with Louisville City FC … previously played collegiate soccer for Young Harris College in the mountains of northeastern Georgia and then sufficiently impressed while spending the 2014 season with FC Chattanooga in the fourth tier National Premier Soccer League … appeared in 26 USL matches (17 starts, 1612 minutes) and scored four goals for Louisville City FC last term

# 7 ….. right wing midfielder … Kadeem Dacres … sppedy 24-year-old native New Yorker now in his third full season as a professional and second term as a member of Louisville City FC … played collegiate soccer for the University of Maryland – Baltimore County and was later selected in the third round (# 65 overall) of the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire … familiar with Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke as a result of his time with Reading United A.C. … spent the 2014 season in the USL with Arizona United SC (24 ga, x st, 3 go) before amassing six goals and two assists in 25 USL matches (23 starts, 1714 minutes) for Louisville City FC last term

# 17 … central striker … Chandler Hoffman … 27-year-old high profile veteran from University of California at Los Angeles product now in his fifth season as a professional and first with Louisville City FC … was the first round pick (# 13 overall) of the Philadelphia Union at the 2012 Major League Soccer SuperDraft but never started a match or even scored a goal after 20 career MLS appearances in four seasons with the Union, Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo … was First Team All-Star after netting 13 goals in 17 USL games for Los Angeles Galaxy II in 2014 … scored four goals in 10 USL matches while on loan to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks last season (where he was teammates with Bethlehem Steel FC number two Samir Badr)

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Bethlehem Steel FC Add Another Youth Team Player To USL Roster

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Bethlehem Steel FC have added yet another Philadelphia Union Academy youth team player to its formal roster currently on display at the official website of the United Soccer League.

Raheem Taylor-Parkes, who just turned 18 years old only eight calendar days ago, is now the sixth Philadelphia Union Academy youth player to be listed on the USL squad of Bethlehem Steel FC, the expansion side now in its first year of operation as the new reserve side for the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. The attack-minded teenager cites Wesley Chapel, Florida, as his hometown and was previously with the VSI West Florida Flames youth team program. Taylor-Parkes did make a substitute appearance for Bethlehem Steel FC during the club’s midweek exhibition match against host Lehigh University that was contested nine days ago on April 21st although how many minutes the youngster actually played versus the Mountain Hawks was never reported.

Taylor-Parkes, who has signed a national letter of intent this past winter to attend the University of Virginia this coming fall, is one of three Philadelphia Union Academy players on Bethlehem Steel FC’s USL roster who have apparently committed to playing collegiate soccer this fall. Auston Trusty, the highly regarded 17-year-old centerback who appeared with the United States U-20 national team at the 2016 Dallas Cup before starting the last three USL matches in succession for BSFC, has signed a national letter of intent with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Joseph De Zart, the 17-year-old midfielder who sat the bench for BSFC as an unused substitute for the USL contest at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium against the visiting Richmond Kickers two weekends ago, will be heading to Wake Forest University.

http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/post/2016/02/03/ten-union-academy-members-sign-national-letters-intent

The first five “registered Academy players” listed on the official roster of any given United Soccer League club in 2016 do not actually count with respect to regulations regarding the size of the so-called “Master Roster”, which is capped at 30 “active” players. USL clubs are required to have a minimum of 12 “active” senior professional players on the squad at all times but thereafter are free to supplement their squad with as many youth team players as desired so long as the total “active” number of players on the Master Roster does not exceed the league’s statutory requirements. The only players who are eligible to be declared “inactive” by the USL squad are players on loan from any Major League Soccer club, players on loan from any club outside of MLS foreign or domestic as well as all registered Academy players.

http://www.uslsoccer.com/media-guide

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Bethlehem Steel FC current roster as of April 29th :

goalkeeper – *McCarthy, Badr
defense – *Anderson, *Washington, *Yaro, Richter, Daly, Bibbs, +Trusty, +McKenzie, +Real
midfield – *Ayuk, *Fernandes, *Missimo, *Restrepo, Jones, Akinyode, Chambers, Fred, Gissie, Luchini, Heard, +Conte, +De Zart, +Taylor-Parkes
striker – *Herbers, Conneh, Burke, Brown

* on Major League Soccer contract with Philadelphia Union
+ Philadelphia Union Academy

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BSFC Offense – Where’s The MLS Beef?

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Much has been made of United Soccer League expansion side Bethlehem Steel FC‘s connection with the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer, specifically with respect to ‘player development’. As the organization has made it a point to repeatedly explain, the grand plan is not only for fledgling BSFC to provide a place where Philadelphia’s seldom-used fringe players can keep match fit by getting a USL game but also for the newest farm club in the Lehigh Valley to serve as a vehicle by which promising Union Academy prospects might transport themselves from youth team player to full time MLS professional status. Five matches into this 2016 USL campaign, 19-year-old Philadelphia Union Academy graduate Derrick Jones has already scored his first professional goal for BSFC and the Philadelphia Union organization certainly have been taking every opportunity to utilize its USL side as a true reserve side for its first team players whose MLS opportunities have been limited this spring.

In fact, Bethlehem Steel FC have featured no fewer than seven MLS players among its Starting XI in three of its first five USL contests thus far and also had six players on loan from the Philadelphia Union in the line-up at kickoff for a fourth match, as well :

7 Union players … 1-0 win ……. FC Montreal
6 Union players … 1-2 loss …. * FC Cincinnati
7 Union players … 0-4 loss …… New York Red Bulls II
4 Union players … 2-1 win ….. * Richmond Kickers
7 Union players … 0-0 tie …… * Charleston Battery

* asterisk denotes a United Soccer League club which is not owned and operated by a Major League Soccer team although both Richmond Kickers and Charleston Battery each had one player with an existing Major League Soccer contract on loan in their respective starting line-ups

For all the endless propaganda about evaluating players, there is absolutely now way that Jim Curtin and the rest of the Philadelphia Union technical staff can be anything but wholeheartedly unimpressed with the paltry one goal scored by Bethlehem Steel FC in the three USL games played this season when head coach Brendan Burke‘s side has had seven MLS players in the Startelf.

Leo Fernandes has had little or no effect as the key central attacking midfielder in Bethlehem Steel FC’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation over the course of his four appearances (343 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists) for BSFC in the United Soccer League this season. The 24-year-old Brazilian-American who starred at Stony Brook University on Long Island before signing with the Philadelphia Union in late January of 2013 has had trouble creating time and space for himself on the ball in the center of the park and oftentimes wonders out wide as a result, thereby causing defensive problems in the center of the field when BSFC lose possession. Fernandes, who started the first two games of this 2016 MLS season for Philadelphia but has only made three substitute appearances lasting a combined 26 minutes in the Union’s last five league matches, has had virtually no impact on Bethlehem Steel FC’s attack ever since missing a penalty kick in the 20th minute of the USL match against New York Red Bulls II on April 10th was ultimately withdrawn with roughly a quarter of an hour to play against the Charleston Battery this past weekend.

Now that Switzerland’s World Cup veteran Tranquillo Barnetta, the crafty 30-year-old central attacking midfielder who spent a dozen years honing his skills in the crack German Bundesliga, has regained a certain level of match fitness and is doing nifty things for the Philadelphia Union like scoring late game-winning goals with fabulous free kicks so it might be rather difficult for Fernandes, who had eight goals and three assists in 27 second division games for the NASL’s New York Cosmos last season, to find any meaningful playing time at the Major League Soccer level in the weeks to come – a string of dominant performances for reserve side Bethlehem Steel FC in the United Soccer League surely would aid his cause.

Fabian Herbers, one of the three collegians among the first six players taken overall at the 2016 Major League Soccer SuperDraft this past winter that the Philadelphia Union selected, has not exactly flourished in the United Soccer League operating as the lone central striker up top for Bethlehem Steel FC, either. The 22-year-old German rookie out of Creighton University did account for BSFC’s historic first league goal in the opening match against FC Montreal and has shown glimpses of his potential at other moments, as well, but it must be said that a record of just one goal scored in 251 minutes of third division soccer is quite pedestrian for a player who is supposed to be of Major League Soccer caliber. And Herbers has had six other Philadelphia Union players with him in the starting line-up on all three of his USL appearances for BSFC this term so, at least in theory, one can not say that the player was not supported by quality teammates out on the pitch at all times.

Herbers had appeared as a substitute in all six of the Philadelphia Union’s first half dozen Major League Soccer matches this season but never did get off the bench against New York City FC last Saturday. It is interesting to note that first year professional has been credited with four attempts at goal (one shot on target) after 66 minutes of MLS action for the Union but, by this blog’s count, the same player has registered only six attempts at goal (three shots on target) for Bethlehem Steel FC despite having played almost four times as many minutes in the lower tier United Soccer League. Again, there have been plenty of other MLS players on loan in the team each and every time that Herbers has turned out for BSFC so the old ‘lack of help’ excuse is clearly disqualified here – one may or may not be able to make a good case for lack of quality service, but that would be another matter.

Up until the most recent United Soccer League match at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium this past Sunday, winger Walter Restrepo also had had virtually no positive influence on Bethlehem Steel FC’s offense. Outside of the assist on Herbers’ landmark goal for BSFC, far too many times on his two previous USL appearances against FC Montreal and FC Cincinnati, respectfully, was the 27-year-old Colombian-American who also spent all of last season with the NASL’s New York Cosmos (29 games, 3 goals, 5 assists) downright wasteful with ball when in a threatening position on the left flank. What’s worse, Restrepo has shown himself to be the sort of player who really could not find his own defensive end of the pitch even if a tour guide and taxi cab driver were hired to help him get there.

The Philadelphia Union have demonstrated over and over this season that they desire to be a hard-working, defensively responsible team that consistently gets as many players behind the ball as early as possible. As the “Old Soccer Coach” has already noted, Restrepo’s disdain for diligently tracking back will make it extremely difficult for the Union head coach Curtin to ever select the two-time NASL First Team All-Star for Philadelphia’s 18-man squad. Indeed, the one-way Restrepo has been on the bench for the Philadelphia Union just once in the team’s first seven Major League Soccer games this season and had even ceded his reserve team place to MLS rookie Cole Missimio for two USL games going into Bethlehem Steel FC’s tie with the Charleston Battery last Sunday.

The one and only player currently under Major League Soccer contract to the Philadelphia Union who has clearly demonstrated a noticeable desire to improve his rank on the organization’s depth chart by producing in the United Soccer League for Bethlehem Steel FC has been Eric Ayuk (5 ga, 431 min, 2 go, 1 as). The 19-year-old winger from Cameroon has not gotten so much as a whiff of a stint in the Union’s 18-man squad this season but has been directly involved in three of the four goals that BSFC has scored in five USL games thus far. The speedy Ayuk, however, could be limited at the highest American level by his apparent reluctance to use his left foot; almost without exception, his end product must be delivered via his right foot and that is entirely too predictable.

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BSFC’s Taylor Washington To Make Philadelphia Union Bench Saturday?

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Bethlehem Steel FC left back Taylor Washington and FC Cincinnati right wing Andrew Wiedeman (# 23), the 26-year-old veteran from the University of California at Berkeley who has scored four goals in 44 career Major League Soccer games for FC Dallas and Toronto FC during his time as a professional player, battle for possession of the ball during the very first United Soccer League match ever contested at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium back on April 3rd, 2016 … (Paul Rudderow photo / Philly Soccer Page)
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Alright, so everybody and their brother who pays attention to such things knows by now that the Philadelphia Union’s naughty Brazilian left back Fabinho has been suspended for having already accumulated too many yellow card cautions this season and, thus, will not be able to participate in the upcoming Major League Soccer match against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester this coming Saturday afternoon. And it is also common knowledge that Ray Gaddis, the 26-year-old from West Virginia University now entering his fifth full season as a professional in Major League Soccer, will be Philadelphia’s new starting left back when San Jose come calling later this week. So it would seem that the only matter yet unsorted is whether or not Bethlehem Steel FC left back Taylor Washington will be one of the seven available substitutes that Union head coach Jim Curtin will have parked on his players’ bench.

In all seven of its matches to start this 2016 MLS season so far, the Philadelphia Union have had one centerback and one fullback held in reserve on the bench at kickoff time. Assuming that Philadelphia are planning to continue this particular policy with regard to their substitutes, then the Union will need to find a new fullback who has not already dressed in uniform for an MLS match previously this season. And Washington, the 22-year-old rookie from George Mason University who was the 2nd round pick (# 23 overall) of the Philadelphia Union at the 2016 MLS SuperDraft this past winter, is the only player left on Curtin’s roster who complies with the stated criteria.

A ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ philosophy will see to it that the Philadelphia Union take this opportunity to include Washington in their 18-man squad for the upcoming MLS match with the San Jose Earthquakes if only so that rookie professional player has the chance to experience what the atmosphere is like when anywhere between 15,000 to 18,500 or so people are in the stands at Talen Energy Stadium. Certainly, playing in front of crowds like that is not something Bethlehem Steel FC’s regular left back this season did routinely back in college. So measures of adjustment involved will include an hour and a half’s worth of riding the proverbial pine this Saturday afternoon.

Fortunately for Bethlehem Steel FC, the Union’s game against the Earthquakes is being played on the East Coast and that is significant because if the contest were being held in California and the rookie left back got on the westward bound plane with the rest of Philadelphia’s team, then there would have been no way that Washington could make a return trip in time to suit up for BSFC’s United Soccer League match versus incoming Louisville City FC at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium this Sunday afternoon.

And that also most welcome news here because if Washington were unavailable, then speculation with respect to just exactly who would be Bethlehem Steel FC’s replacement at left back would have to begin immediately. Auston Trusty, the Philadelphia Union Academy player who made both of his appearances for the United States U-20 national team at the recent 2016 Dallas Cup as a centerback, appears to be a solid bet to be in BSFC’s central defense week in and week out until such time when the 17-year-old heads off for college later this summer. After Washington and Trusty, the only other reasonable option at left back which is listed on the official USL roster and available to BSFC head coach Brendan Burke at the moment seems to be Matthew Real, the 16-year-old Philadelphia Union Academy player.

Meanwhile, the physical fitness of the Philadelphia Union’s rookie centerback Ken Tribbett is an entirely different matter that will need to be addressed at some point – has highly touted first round draft pick Joshua Yaro formally concluded his USL apprenticeship or is it the well-traveled Brazilian veteran Anderson Conceicao who will be farmed out to reserve side Bethlehem Steel FC this weekend?

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Scoreless Tie For Bethlehem Steel FC And Charleston Battery

bsfc-char-williams
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The inability of either side to solve the opponent’s defensive riddles produced a real dearth of genuine goal attempts at both ends of the sun-drenched pitch as the visiting Charleston Battery and host Bethlehem Steel FC battled to a lackluster 0-0 standoff in the closely contested United Soccer League match played at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Despite the presence of no fewer than seven players currently under Major League Soccer contract to the Philadelphia Union in its Startelf, expansion side Bethlehem Steel FC managed to generate a grand total of five attempts on goal over the course of the entire match against what amounted to a team full of career minor leaguers that MLS clubs just do not want to begin with. For their part, the always defensive-conscious Charleston Battery, who featured exactly one player with an existing MLS contract, were able to register eight attempts at the target but most were not very threatening it must be said. On the three occasions on which BSFC have been able put at least seven MLS players from the Union in its starting line-up, Philadelphia’s new reserve side has now scored exactly two goals after 270 minutes of soccer.

Bethlehem Steel FC midfielder Derrick Jones had what proved to be the most glorious opportunity for either side less than a dozen minutes into the match. But the highly touted 19-year-old native of Ghana who is the very first graduate of Philadelphia Union Academy ever to sign a professional contract with any club in any league volleyed the ball well over the Charleston Battery crossbar. Walter Restrepo, the 27-year-old with the Major League Soccer contract who was restored to the BSFC line-up after missing the last two USL matches, deftly provided the lovely cross that an unmarked Jones was able to meet about a yard or so away from the penalty spot.

Romario Williams, the one player currently under MLS contract who is on loan to the Charleston Battery (from the Montreal Impact), had an excellent chance at close range after running onto a superb through ball into the box from experienced Trinidad & Tobago national team veteran Ataullah Guerra. The Jamaica U-23 international striker had been in good form as evidenced by three goals in his first four USL matches thus far but was denied when Bethlehem Steel FC netminder John McCarthy did well to come off his line and cut the angle at his right hand post in the 20th minute. Williams was, on the whole, effectively held in check by the BSFC central defense and would ultimately be substituted in the second half after essentially drifting out of the match.

Guerra also generated an extremely dangerous shot from the top left hand corner of the penalty box that whistled just wide in the 36th minute after Williams had laid the ball off nicely for the Charleston Battery’s 28-year-old international with 37 caps and four goals for Trinidad & Tobago.

Bethlehem Steel FC winger Eric Ayuk also had an excellent opportunity in the box from about seven yards away on the left just before the halftime whistle blew. Unfortunately, the 19-year-old Cameroonian attacker who made 28 MLS appearances and scored two goals for the Philadelphia Union last term but has been stuck in the reserve side all season thus far was let down by his left foot after yet another sensational feed from Restrepo. To be completely fair to the player who had scored a goal in each of his first two games for BSFC at Goodman Stadium previously, first Ayuk had to win a tackle about ten yards inside his own half, make a pinpoint pass into space to release his fellow winger Restrepo on the right and then finally run all the way downfield deep into the Charleston Battery penalty area before shooting.

It was Bethlehem Steel FC central striker Fabian Herbers who had the very best chance for either side in the second half, as well. The 22-year-old German rookie from Creighton University who was the first round pick (# 6 overall) of the Philadelphia Union at the 2016 Major League SuperDraft this winter, found himself with a one-on-one duel with Charleston Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper in the penalty box after being put through by yet another wonderful ball from the highly influential Restrepo. Herbers, however, could not elevate his shot over the advancing Cooper, who earned seven caps for the national team of Cuba before defecting in October of 2012 just prior to a FIFA World Cup qualification match against host Canada.

Herbers, who scored the very first United Soccer League goal in Bethlehem Steel FC club history in the season opener against FC Montreal, also took a free kick for the home side from a rather dangerous position in the 73rd minute of the match but the BSFC-Torjaeger would not be able to emulate the recent late game heroics of the Philadelphia Union’s Swiss World Cup midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta with the Battery’s surprise starter Cooper, the 24-year-old Cuban who had been first choice for Charleston for past three seasons but lost his place in training camp this term, saving his effort quite comfortably.

Restrepo, the former North American Soccer League All-Star and New York Cosmos winger who was a healthy scratch for both the Philadelphia Union and Bethlehem Steel FC last weekend, was easily BSFC’s most creative player on the ball versus the Charleston Battery and on any other day might have handed out three brilliant assists but it was not to be.

Anderson Conceicao, the 26-year-old centerback who previously appeared in 17 Spanish top flight matches for Real Mallorca during the 2011/12 campaign but is now on loan to the Philadelphia Union from Brazilian third division side Tombense FC for this entire 2016 MLS season, made his formal United Soccer League debut for Bethlehem Steel FC and forged a solid enough partnership with teenager Auston Trusty to help the goalkeeper McCarthy keep his sheet clean for the second time in the USL this season. The 23-year-old out of La Salle University really only needed to make one save versus Charleston but did well enough with all high /through / loose balls in the box that required his attention. By this blog’s count, McCarthy has now registered a dozen saves while conceding seven goals in five starts for fledgling BSFC this season.

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Bethlehem Steel FC 0:0 Charleston Battery

Goodman Stadium – Saucon Valley, Pennsylvania
April 24th, 2016
Attendance : 2560

Bethlehem Steel FC : McCarthy – Washington, Anderson, Trusty, Richter – Akinyode, Jones – Ayuk (Chambers 82), Fernandes (Missimo 74), Restrepo – Herbers (Conneh 82)

unused subs : Badr – Daly, Luchini, Gissie

Charleston Battery : Cooper – Woodbine, Ferguson, Mueller, Griffith – Chaing, Hackshaw, Portillo, Marini (Adjetey 84)- Guerra (Garbonzo 70) – Williams (Tonis 67)

goals – none
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Bethlehem Steel FC vs Charleston Battery
Attempts At Goal chart

10th min …. CHAR – Guerra shot blocked by defender
12th min …. BSFC – Jones shot over
14th min …. CHAR – Chang shot blocked by defender
17th min …. CHAR – Griffith shot wide
20th min … CHAR – Williams shot saved
36th min … CHAR – Guerra shot wide
45th min … BSFC – Ayuk shot wide
61st min …. BSFC – Richter header blocked by defender
65th min … BSFC – Herbers shot saved
73rd min … BSFC – Herbers shot saved
75th min … CHAR – Woodbine shot wide
79th min … CHAR – Chang shot wide
89th min … CHAR – Tsonis header wide

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