Bethlehem Steel FC get huge 3-0 win at Richmond Kickers

Bethlehem Steel FC went down to Richmond Kickers and demolished them 3-0! This is Steel FC’s third win over Richmond in USL play, as Bethlehem complete the season sweep of Richmond.

Head Coach Brendan Burke looks on as Steel FC play. Mandatory Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC.

After a rough July, Bethlehem Steel looked to get things back on track against Richmond Kickers. This match featured many of Steel FC’s actual roster, as the Philadelphia Union took 23 players to Portland for their cross-country MLS match. Only Matt Real, Olivier Mbaizo and Jake McGuire were the only Union players in the Steel FC 18. With the normal attacking Union players that feature for Bethlehem with the first team, oppertunities were their for Steel FC players needing minutes. This allowed players like Chris Nanco, Aidan Apodaca and Santi Moar to get some of those vital minutes. Richmond are one of the worst teams in USL this season, and Bethlehem has had their number. This match showed both of those facts.

1st Half:

From the start of the match it was clear that Richmond had only one thing in mind; take the ball up the right-wing and send crosses into the box. Bethlehem dealt with some early scares, and adapted to stop Richmond’s tactic. Once Bethlehem saw how Richmond were playing they found ways to counter it and create dangerous attacks.

Steel FC create some dangerous attacking movements in the first half, but were unable to find the back of the net. Whether it was lacking the final pass on a counter attack, or not being able to finish a chance created through possession. Steel FC grew into the game, while Richmond seemed to stick to their one and only tactic.

The first half ended 0-0, but Bethlehem looked to be the better side, and seemed to only be missing that final finishing touch. They’d find that touch in the second half.

2nd Half:

Not even 10 minutes into the second half Chris Nanco made a darting run into Richmond’s box. He looked to create as his angle for a shot was blocked by multiple defenders. His fellow winger, Santi Moar moved into a more central position to give Nanco an option. Nanco found Moar just outside of the box. Moar with all sorts of time looked up saw the shot was on and curled the effort into the net. Steel FC had the lead, finally finding that finishing touch. They weren’t done yet either.

As the match continued on Richmond tried to make their go down the right-wing and cross into the box work, it didn’t. As Steel FC continued to shut the game down, they had more and more counter attacks. In the 77th minute, they found their second goal on the break. Mbaizo found room to operate down the right-wing. He picked his head up and played a ball into Richmond’s box. The ball went towards the back post where freshly subbed on Omar Holness met the ball with his head. The effort made its way into the net to double the lead. As you can tell, there’s a theme to how this night went from here on out.

In the 85th minute Steel FC dispossessed Richmond again and the break was on. Captain James Chambers found the ball in the middle of the field. He found the run of Mbaizo down the right-wing, who played a give-and-go with youngster Michee Ngalina, playing him in on goal. Ngalina took a touch past the onrushing keeper, and slotted the chance home to give Steel FC the commanding 3-0 lead.

After their third goal Richmond still tried to play down the right-wing and cross the ball into the box, and it still did not work. The match ended 3-0 as Steel FC picked up some crucial points moving them closer to a playoff spot.

Match Highlights:

Eastern Conference playoff race:

With Steel FC’s win tonight, and the rest of USL’s results, Bethlehem sit just outside of the eighth and final playoff spot. They are tied on points with Ottawa Fury FC, but are under the line due to having less wins. As the season progresses for Steel FC, they will need to make the most out of their matches. While they are only a point behind the teams in seventh and sixth place teams (Nashville SC-7th, Indy Eleven-6th), Those two sides have two games in hand on Bethlehem. Steel FC need to start raking up more wins, or at least getting ties out of their remaining games.

Steel FC play two games this coming week. The first is Wednesday at 10th place team in the East, Charlotte Independence. This is a must win game against a team who is also fighting to get into the playoff. The second match of the week comes next Saturday at home vs the second place team in the East, Pittsburgh Riverhounds. This will be a test for Bethlehem, but maybe they’ll be able to get a win at home where they sport a record of 6-2-4.

This win against Richmond will be a good confidence boost. However it really wont make much of a difference if Steel FC can’t build off the huge win on a very busy week! Let’s hope this is win was a helpful step in the right direction.

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC.