A 26th minute goal from right back Walter Cortes propelled Bethlehem Steel FC to their first ever win at Louisville City FC Saturday night thanks to an outstanding performance from keeper Tomas Romero who sets new club record with 12 saves in a match. It was a historic night for Steel FC.
Walter Cortes set the tone in Louisville in the 26th minute with a left-footed curling shot into the side netting. His emphatic celebration, perhaps fueled with mounting frustration and a lack of wins, hinted at Steel FC’s desire to earn a result.
The group, average age of 19, held their own in solid fashion after the early goal. But that’s not to say Louisville City FC didn’t threaten before failing to find an equalizer.
In steps goalkeeper Tomas Romero, the 18-year Cherry Hill, NJ native. By the end of the match, Romero recorded 12 saves while making multiple save of the week worthy denials to stun Louisville and their home crowd. In total, Louisville launched 36 shots, with just two being blocked before heading toward net.
The 12 saves are important to note. It’s a career-high for Romero as his standout year continues. The 12 stops is also a new club record for saves in a game. And it’s all just a glimpse of what Romero can bring to the Philadelphia Union organization in the future.
Once Steel FC notched the early goal, they collapsed back on defense. While Louisville remained steadfast in their high-pressure system, Steel FC would routinely drop seven or eight men behind the ball in their defensive half to form a block. It was effective overall, limiting Louisville to just a handful of chances despite the high shot totals.
The effectiveness of the defensive block excelled mainly because of the back line’s ability to clear the ball effectively. The team tallied 30 total clearances which ultimately allowed them to push back up the field whenever Louisville threatened in the final third.
Ben Ofeimu and Mark McKenzie held down the fort strongly as the center back pairing often stood close by towering over smaller opponents. Matt Real provided great width at the left-back spot while also utilizing his closing speed to limit chances from the wing. Cortes, of course, scored the goal, but his pace on the flank created problems for Louisville as well.
There were blunders, of course, no match is perfect. But a win is a win and in this case, that phrase may never be truer. Steel FC is desperate for positive results and a road win let alone a road result can be a pivotal moment in a long season. Burke will hope this historic win can be the jet fuel his team needs to push for a playoff spot.
Photo Credit: Bethlehem Steel