Playing another one of the top clubs in the Eastern Conference, Bethlehem Steel FC couldn’t overcome a pair of first half goals, falling to Louisville City FC, 3-1.
In a match that featured three goals off of set pieces, current USL Player of the Week Luke Spencer helped push Louisville to the victory, netting a first-half brace. Steel FC fought back with a set piece goal from Philadelphia Union defender Richie Marquez late in the opening frame, scoring on a free kick started by Aaron Jones. With Steel FC knocking on the door of an equalizer, Louisville found an insurance goal off the head of substitute Cameron Lancaster.
Today’s match featured the return of Philadelphia Union midfielder Maurice Edu to Steel FC, as the 31-year-old played his first minutes of 2017. Edu played 32 minutes, completing all 17 of his passes as he continues to work back from a left tibia stress fracture that has kept him off the field during the 2016 and 2017 MLS seasons.
Playing in their third match in a week, Steel FC showed no fatigue in the opening minutes of the match, nearly scoring in the eighth minute. Sparked by the play of rookies Santi Moar and Chris Nanco, Moar dribbled from the flank into the box and fired a centering pass to Nanco. The Canadian with a goal on his mind, saw the shot saved by Louisville keeper Greg Ranjitsingh. Off the rebound, forward Cory Burke rushed in but was denied on a headed chance.
Louisville made the most of its limited chances, turning a free kick into a goal in the 17th minute. Defender Oscar Jimenez provided the service, sending a soaring cross into the box that Spencer timed with his leap to beat Steel FC’s Tomas Romero. Nine minutes later, they doubled their lead, as Spencer collected a saved ball and tapped it into the net.
Trailing by a pair of goals, Steel FC turned to their own free kick magic and scored in the waning moments of the first half. After team captain James Chambers was fouled outside the box, Aaron Jones produced another free kick to put Steel FC on the scoreboard. With two goals in his pocket this season, Jones earned his first professional assist, whipping in a cross that Marquez headed home in the 41st minute of play.
The two sides continued to clash in the second half, with Steel FC nearly knotting it up in the 47th minute. Off yet another set piece, Chambers quickly found Moar unmarked outside the box. The Spaniard drove to the end line and fired toward the near post only to be denied by the keeper.
In search of an equalizer, Louisville ensured the three points with a goal in the 84th minute. Much like their opening strike, Jimenez connected with a Cameron Lancaster header off a set piece for the insurance goal.
After a busy stretch of matches, Steel FC will have time to recover before returning to USL regular season action with a two-game road trip. The squad will head west to face off against rivals Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, August 26. Kickoff from Highmark Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.