In a defensive-minded match that saw just three shots on goal, Bethlehem Steel FC fought back from a second-half deficit to draw Orlando City B, 1-1.
Steel FC held their fellow MLS-affiliate to only one shot on goal but the hosts only needed that one as Pierre Da Silva opened the scoring midway through the final half. Following the unfortunate bounce that led to Orlando's goal, Steel FC responded, as Marcus Epps tallied an equalizer late to help the club end a three-match losing streak. The goal was Epps’ first tally with Bethlehem Steel FC.
Playing in the new Orlando City Stadium under hot and humid conditions, Steel FC showed its gritty defense in the opening half as Orlando City B was held without a single shot on goal. A back line that featured Philadelphia Union players, Aaron Jones, Josh Yaro and Auston Trusty, alongside Steel FC left back Matt Real, came up with timely challenges to thwart the Orlando chances. Trusty came up with a pair of stops in the first 45 minutes, stopping two chances that looked to test goalkeeper Jake McGuire. In the 17th and 40th minutes respectively, the 19-year-old delivered timely challenges to cut off chances that included a blocked shot inside the six-yard box taken by Ben Polk.
On the other side of the pitch, Steel FC relied upon Cory Burke, Santi Moar and Marcus Epps to generate scoring chances. The trio created the half’s best opportunity in the 20th minute, as Burke delivered a through pass toward Epps that was fired just over the crossbar.
The final half provided the offensive fireworks as each club made the most of their one shot on goal. After Steel FC was unable to score on a Burke chance at the near post early in the half, Orlando struck in the 75th minute. Running onto a through ball by Da Silva, Albert Dikwa was denied a shot on goal by Yaro. With no space for a shot, Dikwa laid it off for Da Silva who fired a shot off the upper corner of the post and in.
Steel FC fought back, turning to its trio once more to give the club a point on the road. Moar began the play on the right side of the pitch, passing it to Burke just outside the 18-yard box. Shielding the ball with his body, the 26-year-old turned and delivered a pass to Epps at the top of the box. After a quick crossover, the 22-year-old fired a laser that sailed into the side netting for his first USL goal. Burke was credited with his second assist of 2017 and continues the Jamaican’s strong form as he has collected a point in three of the last four matches he’s played in.
Steel FC returns to action next weekend when the club hosts USL newcomer Tampa Bay Rowdies at Goodman Stadium on Saturday, September 9. The match will be Steel FC’s final Saturday contest of the 2017 regular season and will serve as the club’s match benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley. Steel FC will wear special warm-ups and armbands for the contest, with players signing the items that will be auctioned off during the game. Kickoff from Lehigh University is scheduled for 3 p.m.