NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 10, 2019) – Bethlehem Steel FC put in a defensive shift on the road in Tennessee tonight. The Pennsylvania club posted a clean sheet against MLS-bound side Nashville SC, a team that had scored 10 goals in their last four going into tonight’s match, and walked away with a well-earned point in a scoreless draw.
Steel FC’s focus was evident early on in the match, with the club staying compact and frustrating Nashville’s attack through the entire first half. The Tennessee side wasn’t able to manage a single shot on target in the first 45, despite the league’s leading scorer Daniel Ríos leading their line. Philadelphia Union midfielder Michee Ngalina provided speed up top for the first time since June 15 against Saint Louis FC, while Steel FC midfielder Zach Zandi kept Nashville honest with the only two shots on frame for either team. Both teams went into that half level at 0-0, with the Steel defense standing strong.
Goalkeeper Todd Morton didn’t have much work to do in the first half, but he was called upon early and often in the second. Morton made seven saves in the second half, including an impressive save on a close-range header from inside the box. Even more impressive was Walter Cortés hopping on his bike to make a goal-line clearance on that same shot that kept the Boys in Blue fighting and level in the match. In the end Cortés’ clearance would prove even more crucial in the end, as visitors from Pa. pulled out the 0-0 draw and walked away from First Tennessee Park with a point.
Bethlehem Steel FC’s defense had a lot of work to do against a potent Nashville attack that held 69.2% of the possession tonight. Philadelphia Union’s Matt Real also led the team on the defensive side of the ball, making a game-high five tackles against Nashville SC. Real led all Steel players that played more than 45 minutes with an 84.6% passing accuracy.
The Boys in Blue next host Birmingham Legion FC at Talen Energy Stadium on Sunday, August 25 following a break next weekend (6:00 p.m. ET | Chester, Pa. | ESPN+).
Bethlehem Steel FC 0 – Nashville SC 0
First Tennessee Park (Nashville, Tenn.)
Saturday, August 10, 2019
TODAY’S MATCH INFO:
Venue: First Tennessee Park, Nashville, Tenn.
Referee: Sergii Demianchuk
Assistant Referees: Walter Heatherly; Matthew Rodman
Fourth Official: Ronald Ware
Weather: 87 degrees and clear
BST – James Chambers (caution) 90+4’
Bethlehem Steel FC: Todd Morton; Matt Real, Steve Kingue, Nathan Harriel, Walter Cortés; James Chambers ©; Anthony Fontana, Issa Rayyan; Zach Zandi; Chavany Willis (Axel Picazo 71’), Michee Ngalina (Faris 46’)
Substitutes not used: Lukas Burns; Shanyder Borgelin, Selmir Miscic
Nashville SC: Matt Pickens; Taylor Washington, Forrest Lasso ©, Jimmy Ockford, Darnell King (Tucker Hume 89’); Boluwatife Akinyode (Matt LaGrassa 89’), Ken Tribbett; Kharlton Belmar (Alan Winn 46’), Lebo Moloto, Ropapa Mensah; Daniel Ríos
Substitutes not used: Connor Sparrow; Bradley Bourgeois, Justin Davis, Kosuke Kimura
The draw tonight keeps Bethlehem Steel FC’s road record against Nashville SC clean. The Steel now hold a regular-season record of 1-0-1 at Nashville all-time.
Steel FC goalkeeper Todd Morton closed the door on Nashville SC in tonight’s match, making seven saves and earning his first clean sheet in a Steel uniform.
Philadelphia Union midfielder Michee Ngalina made his return to the Steel lineup for the first time since the club’s match against Saint Louis (June 15). Ngalina played 45 minutes and made two tackles.
Midfielder Zach Zandi was the only player on the field for either team that had a shot on target in the first half tonight. The West Chester, Pa. native put two on frame and was also the only player to take a shot for the Steel in the first 45. Zandi also won a game-high three fouls.
En route to its fourth clean sheet of the year, Bethlehem Steel FC’s defense was compact and effective tonight, not giving up a shot on target through the first 45 minutes of the match against Nashville SC. The club achieved this feat despite only holding 32.3% possession through halftime and Nashville attempting five total shots through that same span.
Bethlehem Steel FC’s passing game was led by forward Faris who had a 100% passing accuracy after subbing into the match in the second half. Defender Matt Real led all Steel players that played more than 45 minutes by completing 84.6% of his passes.
Philadelphia Union’s Matt Real also led the team on the defensive side of the ball, making a game-high five tackles against Nashville SC.
Bethlehem Steel FC next hosts expansion side Birmingham Legion FC on Sunday, August 25 at Talen Energy Stadium (6:00 p.m. ET | Talen Energy Stadium | Chester, Pa. | ESPN+).