ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (September 21, 2019) – Bethlehem Steel FC ran into a Tampa Bay Rowdies team that was motivated and determined to end the match early. Despite being down most of the match, the Boys in Blue continued to fight until the very end for a final of 6-1 from Al Lang Stadium.
Steel FC fought off an onslaught of Tampa Bay attacks to stay level until the 20th minute. The Rowdies’ Juan Tejada pressured Ben Ofeimu and Todd Morton deep into the six-yard box that forced a mistake and own goal from Ofeimu. It started to pile on from there, with Sebastián Guenzatti, Kwadwo Poku and Andrew Tinari all getting their names on the score sheet before the end of the half. Lucky Mkosana and Afrim Taku both added themselves to that mix in the second half as substitutes. Before Mkosana and Taku scored their goals, a penalty kick was awarded to the Steel after a handball by a Rowdies’ defender. Faris converted the kick for Steel FC’s only goal in the match, but brought renewed energy and fight nonetheless. The Steel fought until the end, but Tampa Bay proved too powerful on the night as the match ended 6-1 in favor of the hosts.
On a night that seemed bleak in the end for the Steel, there were some positives to come out of the match. Faris’ goal tonight was his seventh of the season and 10th all-time for the club. He also passed fellow striker Michee Ngalina (six) as Steel FC’s leading goalscorer in 2019 with his seventh tally. Tonight also saw the return of Saed Díaz to USL Championship regular-season action. Díaz had been out for some time following an injury picked up while on international duty with Panama’s U-20 squad ahead of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The appearance was his first for the club since a 3-3 draw at Loudoun United FC (May 3), as the forward picked up 13 minutes and won one foul against the Rowdies.
The Steel hit the road again next weekend for a match against Memphis 901 FC on Saturday, September 28 (8:00 p.m. ET | AutoZone Park | Memphis, Tenn. | ESPN +).
Bethlehem Steel FC 1 – Tampa Bay Rowdies 6
Al Lang Stadium (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Saturday, September 21, 2019
TODAY’S MATCH INFO:
Venue: Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Referee: Elvis Osmanovic
Assistant Referees: Nick Balcer; Justin Howard
Fourth Official: Alyssa Nichols
Weather: 82 degrees and clear
TBR – Ben Ofeimu (Own Goal) 20’
TBR – Sebastián Guenzatti (Malik Johnson) 24’
TBR – Kwadwo Poku (Leo Fernandes) 40’
TBR – Andrew Tinari (Malik Johnson) 45+2’
BST – Faris (Penalty Kick) 69’
TBR – Lucky Mkosana (Malik Johnson) 71’
TBR – Afrim Taku (Leo Fernandes) 90+2’
TBR – Tarek Morad (caution) 42’
BST – Walter Cortés (caution) 54’
BST – Chavany Willis (caution) 65’
TBR – Lucky Mkosana (caution) 74’
Bethlehem Steel FC: Todd Morton; Walter Cortés ©, Cole Turner, Ben Ofeimu, Nathan Harriel; Chavany Willis (Danny Flores 74’), Zach Zandi; Axel Picazo (Shanyder Borgelin 63’), Issa Rayyan; Faris, Michee Ngalina (Saed Díaz 77’)
Substitutes not used: Ben Martino; Yomi Samuele Scintu
Tampa Bay Rowdies: John McCarthy; Caleb Richards, Shawn Barry, Tarek Morad; Leo Fernandes, Dominic Oduro (Jordan Doherty 82’), Andrew Tinari (Lucky Mkosana 59’), Kwadwo Poku, Malik Johnson (Afrim Taku 73’); Juan Tejada, Sebastián Guenzatti ©
Substitutes not used: Macklin Robinson; Mohamed Kone, Jaime Siaj, Zach Steinberger
Bethlehem Steel FC forward Faris scored his seventh goal of the season in tonight’s match. The tally allows him to regain control and the Steel’s sole scoring leader in 2019, with Philadelphia Union forward Michee Ngalina just behind with six. It was also the Cameroonian forward’s 10th all-time goal for the club, having scored three in 2018.
Philadelphia Union Academy midfielder Axel Picazo started for the Steel against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Picazo has now made three starts in 14 appearances and has scored one goal for Steel FC in 2019.
Saed Díaz made his first appearance for Steel FC since the club’s match at Loudoun United FC on May 3. The Panamanian forward played 13 minutes as a substitute in tonight’s match and won one foul after recovering from a knee injury that he picked up earlier this year.
Midfielder Issa Rayyan led the Steel attack tonight with two shots (one on target), while defender Walter Cortés made a game-high four tackles. Midfielder Zach Zandi was key in distribution, finishing the match with a 90.0% passing accuracy.
Bethlehem Steel FC next travels to take on Memphis 901 FC on Saturday, September 28, at 8:00 p.m. ET (8:00 p.m. ET | AutoZone Park | Memphis, Tenn. | ESPN +).