Photo courtesy Ben Solomon / New York Red Bulls II
MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Adam Najem notched a goal and assist to lead Bethlehem Steel FC to a 2-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls II on Friday night at MSU Soccer Park, with the former Red Bulls Academy standout pivotal in Steel FC’s first victory in club history against the defending USL Cup champion. Steel FC (6-6-1, 19pts) took the lead just five minutes in as Chris Nanco slipped Najem into the right side of the penalty area, and Najem curled a finish into the left corner of the net for his first professional goal. The Red Bulls II (5-7-2, 17pts) had some good spells of pressure as the first half progressed, but only a low shot by Junior Flemmings in the 18th minute forced a save from Bethlehem goalkeeper Jake McGuire in the opening half-hour. The Red Bulls II’s Florian Valot had a header tipped onto the crossbar in the 41st minute by McGuire off a corner, but Bethlehem doubled its lead in the 57th minute as a chipped pass by Najem played in Santi Moar for a looping volley over Red Bulls II goalkeeper Rafael Diaz. New York’s David Najem – Adam’s older brother – almost pulled a goal back as his low shot was tipped wide by McGuire in the 67th minute, while Steel FC’s Cory Burke was denied by Diaz on a one-on-one three minutes later. Steel FC’s defense was solid down the stretch, though, to close out a second consecutive road victory.
5’ – BST – Adam Najem (Chris Nanco)
57’ – BST – Santi Moar (Adam Najem)
Three Things That Matter:
1. A former member of the New York Red Bulls Academy, Adam Najem’s first professional goal for Bethlehem Steel FC had to be a sweet moment as he notched Steel FC’s first goal against the Red Bulls II in the club’s history. Adding a second-half assist against a side that included his older brother David, and playing less than a 20 minute-drive from his hometown, the former PDL standout showed everything he has to offer on Bethlehem’s two goals, and provided a platform for the visitors to earn an important result to carry on their recent form.
2. Maybe the most intriguing matchup in Friday night’s game featured two players who’d recently competed at the FIFA U20 World Cup, as Honduran forward Douglas Martinez went up against United States defender Auston Trusty. While the Red Bulls II had more shots, and more possession during the game, it was Trusty and fellow center back Hugh Roberts who held the upper hand overall as Martinez was held to one shot off target and one chance created. Trusty in particular had a solid display, winning two tackles and making five interceptions to help end some attacks before they fully got going.
3. Steel FC moved ahead of the Red Bulls II in the USL Eastern Conference standings with Friday night’s victory, and has now won three of its past four outings, including back-to-back road victories. As was pointed out in Thursday’s Top Five list on the most improved sides in the USL this season, Steel FC is becoming a well-rounded side that has enough firepower and balance to continue this push for a playoff berth in its second season in the league.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Adam Najem, Bethlehem Steel FC – Najem’s first professional goal and assist against the organization he grew up part of was a perfect return in his first professional game in his home state.
New York Red Bulls II at Ottawa Fury FC – June 24, 2 p.m. ET, TD Place
Bethlehem Steel FC at Harrisburg City Islanders – June 22, 7 p.m. ET, FNB Field