Photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel FC
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – A pair of first-half goals paved the way for Bethlehem Steel FC as it took a 2-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls II on Sunday evening at Goodman Stadium to extend its undefeated streak to seven games. New York’s Vincent Bezecourt had the first real effort on goal, forcing a save by Steel FC goalkeeper Jake McGuire with a looping shot from distance in the eighth minute. Bethlehem (8-6-2, 26pts) then went close through Chris Nanco, only for his shot to hit the crossbar eight minutes later, but two minutes later a good counterattack with Adam Najem gave the Canadian striker a one-on-one chance that he finished low from 12 yards. Bezecourt again threatened for the Red Bulls II (6-8-3, 21pts), only for his shot to be too close to McGuire with a clear look on goal, and soon after Steel FC doubled its lead as Santi Moar navigated the goal line before a precise low ball to find Fabian Herbers, who roofed his finish. New York found the net early in the second half, only for the goal to be ruled out for a foul on the set piece, while Herbers rolled a shot just wide of the left post from the right side of the area a few minutes later at the other end. As the Red Bulls II looked to get back into the game, however, only a late one-on-one chance for Derrick Etienne Jr. seriously tested McGuire as Steel FC held firm for victory.
17’ – BST – Chris Nanco (Adam Najem)
31’ – BST – Fabian Herbers (Santi Moar)
Three Things That Matter:
1. With Cory Burke absent on international duty, and Seku Conneh unavailable due to injury, the door opened wide for Chris Nanco to lead the line for Steel FC on Sunday, and the Canadian striker made the most of his opportunity. Nanco had already hit the crossbar with a good shot from the right side of the penalty area, but when the next chance presented itself the rookie made no mistake. Adam Najem’s arrival in support after Nanco had controlled between two defenders set up a two-on-two break, and with Tim Schmoll slow to keep up to the weave the duo ran, Nanco was given time and space to finish nicely for his second goal of the season.
2. In addition to providing the assist on the opening goal of the game, Najem was also once again a thorn in the side of the club whose Academy he came through before arriving for his first professional season in Pennsylvania this season. The fulcrum for the Steel FC as it looked to move upfield, Najem made consistently good decisions over the course of the contest to keep Bethlehem moving forward quickly, and created two other scoring chances in addition to completing 80 percent of his passes. Santi Moar provided the other prong, with an excellent piece of technique to set up Fabian Herbers for Steel FC’s second, which proved enough to keep the side’s run up the Eastern Conference moving.
3. As Bethlehem looked sharp moving forward, only Vincent Bezecourt provided the same kind of spark for the Red Bulls II, who fell for the second time this season to Bethlehem after winning all three meetings a season ago. The likes of Derrick Etienne Jr. were harried well by Steel FC’s defense, which led to the Haiti international’s chances being limited to a pair of late looks on goal. Meanwhile, when Bezecourt did create chances, the visitors were unable to take advantage. With the defending USL Cup champion’s playoff hopes sitting in the balance, it will need much better against Harrisburg on Wednesday night.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Chris Nanco, Bethlehem Steel FC – Nanco’s speed regularly stretched the Red Bulls II defense, which resulted in a great opening goal of the game for the hosts and an eventual victory.
Bethlehem Steel FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – July 15, 5 p.m. ET, Goodman Stadium
New York Red Bulls II at Harrisburg City Islanders – July 12, 7 p.m. ET, FNB Field