After Cory Burke helped Bethlehem Steel FC overcome a two-goal deficit with a pair of goals, Steel FC fell late to in-state rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 3-2, at Highmark Stadium.
Burke paced the Steel FC offense, netting the second brace in Steel FC history with goals in both halves. Goalkeeper Jake McGuire, playing in only his second match in the last seven weeks, made a career-high 11 saves to keep Steel FC within striking range. Pittsburgh captain Kevin Kerr provided the offense for the Riverhounds, collecting the game-winning goal in the 75th minute while adding assists to Cory Hertzog and Jamal Jack.
The contest lived up to its rivalry headline, as the two Keystone State clubs combined for seven yellow cards and 20 fouls. Pittsburgh tested McGuire and the Steel FC defense throughout the night, firing 30 shots in the contest, placing 14 on target.
Pittsburgh jumped out to the early lead in front of their home crowd, finding a 10th-minute goal from Hertzog, their leading scorer. With the defense focused on the right side of the pitch, midfielder Kevin Kerr switched the attack with a volley from outside the 18-yard-box toward the far post. Hertzog timed his run and jump, placing his headed effort past a diving Jake McGuire and into the far post.
Steel FC saw the deficit double in the 19th minute, as an unfortunate bounce went in the Riverhounds favor. After Pittsburgh fired in a corner kick, Steel FC was unable to clear as Kerr delivered a toe poke on the clearance. The ball bounced to defender Jamal Jack, who fired a shot that bounced off a defender and into the net. The tally was Jack’s first goal of the season.
Facing a two-goal deficit, Steel FC showed their gritty mentality on the road to fight back into the contest. After a shutting down a Riverhounds’ counter attack, Steel FC responded with their own. Philadelphia Union midfielder Maurice Edu started the attack, finding Chris Nanco at midfield. After a few dribbles, Nanco fired a through ball to Santi Moar, who used his pace to get around the defense and into the 18-yard box. Turning up the end line, Moar was fouled from behind by Ritchie Duffie, earning Steel FC a penalty kick. Burke put Steel FC on the board, firing a shot that goalkeeper Matthew Perrella couldn’t stop.
With momentum on their side, Steel FC equalized on the foot of Burke once more in the 71st minute. With the Riverhounds pressing for an insurance goal, defender Auston Trusty cleared a cross that connected with Moar. The 23-year-old forward lifted the ball over a defender at midfield that Burke ran down for a counter attack. After a pair of touches and a defender rushing in, Burke calmly fired a shot into the far post for his fifth goal of the season.
A third-consecutive draw wasn’t in the cards after the Burke goal, as Pittsburgh retook the lead late on a fortunate bounce off the post and turf. Begun on a Hertzog cross from the edge of the box, Chevaughn Walsh connected with a header that beat McGuire but hit off the near post. After bouncing off the post, James Chambers raced toward the ball but the ball bounced off the opposite post before he could clear. Looking to adjust for the clearance, Kerr slide under the 30-year-old midfielder and tapped it over the goal line for the game winner.
Steel FC will look to cap off August strong when the club concludes embarks on its second and final leg of its road trip on Thursday, August 31, at Orlando City B. The match up will be the second and final meeting between the two clubs. Kickoff from Orlando City Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.