Bethlehem Steel FC were on the road for their first match of the USL Championship season. Steel FC faced of with expansion side Birmingham Legion FC, and won 2-0!
Steel FC went on the road and got the W in their first match of the 2019 season. A mixture of Steel FC player, Philadelphia Union players and Philadelphia Union Academy players made up the 2019 Bethlehem side.
As Steel FC kicked off their first match of 2019, they took their time to get initiated. The mixture of new players coming together for Steel FC, and playing the inaugural game for Birmingham didn’t help calm any nerves. Legion FC came out with a crowd behind them looking to punish Steel FC. They created many chances, but Bethlehem’s back line stifled the chances.
As the first half went on, Steel FC became more accustomed to the game and started attacks of their own. Bethlehem came out in a flat 4-4-2 formation, and tried to put the press on Birmingham. The Ernst Tanner style is prevalent in the Steel FC squad as well, and created some great chances in the first half.
Unfortunately, a great half of soccer ended 0-0. The second half was full of fireworks for the visiting team.
Bethlehem came out swinging in the second half. Not 10 minutes into the second half Steel FC scored their first goal of the 2019 season through Union loanee Kacper Przybylko. Przybylko’s first attempt was a thumping header that was saved, but luckily for the Polish international he was able to pounce on the rebound and rifle a shot past the keeper. The first goal propelled Bethlehem to press harder for a second.
15 minutes after Steel FC nabbed their first they got their second goal. Fullback Matt Real did well to move up the left flank to find space. He lloked toward the center of the pitch to find a teammate. He crossed the ball to newby midfielder Zach Zandi. Zandi received the ball turned towards goal and fired a shot form outside the box. Zandi’s effort hit the post and went in!
The following 20ish minutes were full of Steel FC closing the game out to secure the first three points of their early season.
This Steel FC side is much younger than in years passed, but looks poised to be a good USL Championship side in 2019. This side is almost like a U-21 side, which is good and a natural landing spot for Union academy products.
Academy players Cole Turner, Shanyder Borgelin and Jack de Vries came on for Steel FC in the second half to help secure the win. Over all nine players made their debuts for Bethlehem in the 2019 opener:
Philadelphia Union players Matt Freese and Kacper Przybylko, Steel FC players Jamoi Topey, Chavany Willis, Zach Zandi and Saed Díaz and Union Academy players Cole Turner, Shanyder Borgelin and Jack de Vries.
BST – Kacper Przybylko (Unassisted) 53’
BST – Zach Zandi (Matt Real) 68’
BHM – Mikey Lopez (caution) 42’
BHM – Femi Hollinger-Janzen (caution) 73’
BST – Saed Díaz (caution) 76’
BHM – Eric Avila (caution) 90+4’
Bethlehem Steel FC: Matt Freese; Matt Real, Jamoi Topey, Ben Ofeimu, Issa Rayyan; James Chambers ©, Chavany Willis; Zach Zandi (Jack de Vries 90+6’), Anthony Fontana; Saed Díaz (Cole Turner 88’), Kacper Przybylko (Shanyder Borgelin 90+4’)
Substitutes not used: Tomás Romero; Walter Cortés, Nathan Harriel
Birmingham Legion FC: Trevor Spangenberg; Kyle Culbertson, Marcel Appiah, Kyle Fisher, Eric Avila; Daniel Johnson, Daigo Kobayashi (Marcos Ugarte 81’), Mikey Lopez ©, Prosper Kasim (Gael Mabiala 90+2’); Chandler Hoffman, Femi Hollinger-Janzen (Tyler Turner 73’)
Substitutes not used: Joe Nasco; Benjamin Kucera, Mathieu Laurent, Tyler Savitsky
After Steel FC secured the two goal lead. They used their press to perfection. A throw in for Birmingham looked to spark an attack, but Matt Real dealt well with it. Anthony Fontana came back to help win the ball back. He then combined well with captain James Chambers on the sideline. The fancy footwork helped the club create a moment of football genius that went viral. Getting picked up by Bleaher Report.
Let’s hope this squad can keep this up in the Championship, and also helps Union player progress and push for first team minutes.
The Championship after week 1:
At the end of first week Steel FC sit in fourth place in the eastern conference, and Steel FC newcomer Zach Zandi made the USL Championship team of the week! Now Bethlehem role on; they’ll play their next three matches at their new “home” Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA.
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union