Bethlehem Steel FC Drops 2-1 Contest to Rival Pittsburgh
Chris Nanco tallies third goal while Santi Moar adds eighth assist in home loss to Riverhounds
BETHLEHEM, PA. (August 12, 2018) – Despite battling back from a first-half deficit, Bethlehem Steel FC conceded a late goal that saw the Pittsburgh Riverhounds snap the club’s three-game winning streak, 2-1.
Playing the third match in eight days, Steel FC was unable to find its scoring form from its previous two contests against the United Soccer League’s top defense in 2018. After halftime adjustments, Steel FC battled back with a second-half goal from Chris Nanco but Riverhounds’ forward Neco Brett bagged a brace to send the visitors home with three points.
“There was one team with energy and one team without, in the first half in particular,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said following the match. “The second half we showed up a little bit more but so many simple plays that broke down and ultimately they won a game of head tennis and transitions and that’s what they like to play, it’s what they're built for. Credit to them for making the game really, really ugly and we made it even worse because we couldn’t pass the ball today. And to compound all of it, we get ourselves out on the counter to go up 2-1 and [Brenden] Aaronson gets absolutely destroyed in the box. We just watched the replay about 10 times; he gets a touch on the ball, the keeper comes through his knees. If anything, it was a red card and a penalty because of the reckless nature of the challenge. He goes flying head over heels and it’s hard for referees to understand how much of an impact they have on a season but they had a really big one today. Probably can’t comment too much more on them, hopefully, they sleep well tonight, we won’t.”
Pittsburgh’s stringent defense was on full display in the opening half, holding Steel FC’s high-scoring offense without a single shot in the opening 45 minutes. Steel FC fell behind in the 35th minute as Kenardo Forbes collected a clearance and flung a pass out wide to Brett. Brett cut to his left and fired a left-footed show inside the near corner for his 12th goal of the season.
Steel FC needed just seven minutes in the second half to respond as the second-year duo of Santi Moar and Nanco found the back of the net. Starting on a goal kick from Jake McGuire, Matt Real flicked a header on the restart to spring Moar on the left flank. The crafty Spaniard softly flicked a pass behind the Riverhounds defense that Nanco chased down before cutting to his right. With the defense swarming, the 23-year-old fired a right-footed shot into the left corner for his third goal of the year.
Steel FC nearly grabbed the lead in the 71st minute as substitute Michee Ngalina sprung 17-year-old Brenden Aaronson in on goal. After a quick touch, Aaronson was denied a chance on goal by the keeper. Pittsburgh responded eight minutes later with the winning goal as Christiano Francois and Brett teamed up for a 2v1 counter that ended with Brett’s second goal and the match winner.
Bethlehem Steel FC concludes its four-match slate in 13 days with a trip north to Rochester, New York for a match with Toronto FC II. Kick off from Marina Auto Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN+.