Bethlehem Steel FC earned a road win at Swope Park Rangers 4-3 thanks to a 93rd minute goal from Sergio Santos and Philadelphia Union won at home against FC Dallas after Ale Bedoya smashed a game winner into the back of the net in the 92nd minute to cap a great Saturday for Philadelphia soccer.
Steel FC @ Swope Park Rangers
“It was a wild one,” said Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke following his clubs thrilling 4-3 victory. “Great resiliency. I think we regressed at one point when the game got a little chippy. I was just so proud of the energy and the fight. There were guys with no legs left at the end of the game still pushing to make themselves part of the attack.”
Swope Park opened up the scoring with a 19th minute goal from Ethan Vanacore-Decker. Vanacore-Decker managed to find a slot of open space in between four Steel FC defenders and tapped home a cross into the box from Killian Colombie. Swope’s first goal was certainly a blow to Steel FC’s morale but they responding just eight minutes later.
Faris, the Cameroonian teenager, smashed home a loose ball following a James Chambers corner kick in the 27th minute. The goal was Faris’ second of the year and he’s now scored in back-to-back games.
However, the game got a bit away from Burke and his club around the 40th minute. Both teams increased their physicality and Steel FC faltered. A 44th minute goal by Swope’s Jerome Ngom-Mbekeli served as a dagger right before the halftime whistle. A quick counter-attack left Steel’s back line in shambles which allowed the goal.
Ngom-Mbekeli wasn’t finished scoring either. 12 minutes after the second half started, he ripped a beautiful left-footed shot from outside the box into the net for Swope’s third goal and second unanswered.
It seemed Steel FC were all but dead following the 57th rocket from Ngom-Mbekeli. However, the young team would not quit.
“We have that never-say-die attitude and it’s great to see these lads coming in and adopting that approach,” said team captain James Chambers.
Former Union Academy player Ben Ofeimu started the party with the first of three unanswered goals for Steel to end the match. Ofeimu tallied a brilliant header after a perfect corner kick from Chambers.
Just five minutes after Ofeimu’s header, Matt Real attempted a left-footed cross that deflected off of Swope’s Mark Segbers’ back sending the ball skyward. Unfortunately for Swope, the deflection created a goal for Steel FC and the match was tied.
In comes Sergio Santos, Philadelphia Union’s newest striker, who was making a rehab stint. Santos entered in the 60th minute and became the hero in the 93rd minute.
A left-footed shot from Michee Ngalina was blocked but Chambers rifled another shot off the deflection. Chambers’ effort was saved however Santos was in the perfect position to crush home the game winning goal.
When asked what it says about the team to get the late game-winner, Chambers offered some refreshingly honest thoughts. “Character. There’s nothing else to say other than character,” said Chambers. “You can’t give someone character, you can’t get it. You have to build it and that’s hopefully what we have now this year and going forward.”
Steel FC will look to continue their improved form next Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium when Charleston Battery visit Chester.
Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas
Steel FC weren’t the only Philly soccer club with a flare for the dramatics Saturday night. What started off as a rather disappointing outing for Philadelphia ended in glorious fashion for DOOPers.
A silly foul just outside the box from Marco Fabian granted him a yellow and a goal for FC Dallas. Reto Ziegler fired a perfect shot off the free kick opportunity up and over the Union wall leaving keeper Andre Blake flat-footed as the ball sailed into the net. 10 minutes in and the Union were facing a deficit already as the impressive shutout streak was over.
No goals would be scored for the next 75 minutes. Brenden Aaronson had Philadelphia’s first real chance on goal in the 30th minute but his shot was hit directly at Dallas’ keeper Jimmy Maurer.
Speedy Union forward David Accam had another dangerous attempt on goal in the 57th minute after Haris Medunjanin slid a perfect through ball to Accam who was breaking through the back line. Accam’s effort was stifled yet again by Maurer.
A bit of chaos helped the Union in the 83rd minute when substitute Jamiro Monteiro blasted a right footed shot from outside the box. Monteiro’s blast left Maurer no choice but to parry the attempt straight up in the air. Cory Burke was then tackled trying to head home the rebound which awarded Philadelphia a timely penalty kick opportunity.
Fabian took the PK chance but was denied. Burke, thankfully, sprinted forward and rammed home the rebound for the equalizing goal in the 85th minute.
And then magic happened. Fast forward to the second minute of final stoppage time and Ilsinho dazzled once more to create a goal for Ale Bedoya. Ilsinho danced toward the goal box before flicking a pass up for Bedoya who was just entering the box. Bedoya made two great dribbles to his right before unleashing an off-balanced left footed shot that found the back of the net. Fans and players alike jumped for joy as the Union snagged a thrilling 2-1 victory.
“Oh man. Ilsinho got the ball, and he’s such a difference maker. I was trying to find out where to move in between the defenders when he had the ball,” said Bedoya. “I thought he was going to play a 1-2 with me but then he chipped it and I was able to get a touch by Ziegler and then I cut again and I finally got one of those goals that all those strikers always get where you just shoot it and it goes between the defenders’ legs.”
It was for sure a huge three points for the Union. They controlled most of the match and the eye-test would most definitely tell you they were more deserving than Dallas Saturday night.
Philadelphia extended their unbeaten streak to four matches while increasing their win streak to three games straight. They now have to travel across the country to an always difficult LA Galaxy club Saturday, April 13th.
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC & Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports