Photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel FC
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Luke Spencer scored twice, and Oscar Jimenez recorded two assists, as Louisville City FC took a 3-1 victory against Bethlehem Steel FC on Sunday evening at Goodman Stadium. Bethlehem had an early chance through Chris Nanco, whose shot from the top of the penalty area was saved, but Lousiville took the lead in the 17th minute when a good free kick by Jimenez was headed home by Spencer for his seventh goal of the season. Spencer doubled Louisville’s lead nine minutes later as his header from another cross by Jimenez was initially saved by Bethlehem’s Tomas Romero, but Spencer put home the rebound. Bethlehem almost pulled a goal back as James Chambers had a shot blocked wide by Paco Craig after good work by Cory Burke down the left. Chambers went close again nine minutes before halftime, his header going just over the crossbar, but five minutes later Richie Marquez put home a free kick by Aaron Jones to halve Steel FC’s deficit. Bethlehem almost tied the game before halftime as Chambers shot wide of the left post after being left open, while Santi Moar was well denied by Louisville Greg Ranjitsingh, but Louisville held on to take its lead to the break. Ranjitsingh made another big save to deny Moar early in the second half, and was called into action again to keep Burke from finding the net with a header with 20 minutes to go. Louisville almost added to its lead in the 72nd minute as a through-ball by Mark-Anthony Kaye found Richard Ballard, only for the finish to go wide of the left post, but the visitors put the game away with six minutes to go as Jimenez’s free kick found Cameron Lancaster for a flicked header that gave City its fourth win in its last five games.
17’ – LOU – Luke Spencer (Oscar Jimenez)
26’ – LOU – Luke Spencer
41’ – BST – Richie Marquez (Aaron Jones)
84’ – LOU – Cameron Lancaster (Oscar Jimenez)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The USL has seen a handful of forwards hit rich veins of form already this season, and Louisville City FC’s Luke Spencer joined that group with a two-goal performance that has seen the second-year-pro record four goals in his last three games. At the forefront of his play has been Spencer’s aerial prowess, which was again on display in the game’s opening goal, but the target man also showed versatility on Sunday, playing a role in the build-up to his second goal as he checked back to receive possession before having his marker drift away to offer a clear path into the center of the penalty area where he made the most of his own rebound.
2. Bethlehem looked out of sorts in the opening 25 minutes, with defensive gaps being exploited well on top of some inexperience shown by goalkeeper Tomas Romero. The hosts worked their way back into the game admirably, though, as they put repeated pressure on Louisville’s goal between the 30th and 60th minutes, pulling one goal back and threatening to at least equalize. Steel FC would have done so, too, if not for a pair of outstanding saves by Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh to deny Santi Moar either side of halftime. Instead, City withstood the pressure, and handed Steel FC its second loss of the week.
3. Before the hour-mark, it seemed likely if the next goal was to come, it would be from Steel FC, but in the final half-hour Louisville regained enough control to allow it to see out a very good road victory. Cameron Lancaster’s headed finish with six minutes to go off Oscar Jimenez’s second assist of the game wrapped up the points, and allowed Louisville to move within three points of the Charlotte Independence at the top of the Eastern Conference with three games in hand. The first of those arrives on Wednesday night, when Louisville plays host to the Harrisburg City Islanders with the chance to move into first place in the standings again with a win – although it will be without the services of Kyle Smith after his stoppage-time red card. With five of its next six games on home turf, the time for Head Coach James O’Connor’s side to make hay appears to have arrived.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Oscar Jimenez, Louisville City FC – Jimenez finished with a pair of assists, and set up the other City goal on the night, as he created six scoring chances overall.
Bethlehem Steel FC at Pittsburgh Riverhounds – August 26, 7 p.m. ET, Highmark Stadium
Louisville City FC vs. Harrisburg City Islanders – August 23, 7:30 p.m. ET, Slugger Field