Facing the top club in the United Soccer League’s Eastern Conference, Bethlehem Steel FC showed no fear as it fought to a 2-2 draw at Louisville City FC.
Having not played in over two weeks, Steel FC came out aggressive at Louisville Slugger Field where Louisville had won eight of its 12 matches at the start of the night. Steel FC jumped out to a first-half lead behind Cory Burke’s sixth goal of the season, as the 25-year-old converted from the penalty spot. After Louisville equalized with their own penalty kick goal, Santi Moar gave Steel FC it’s second lead of the night, as he slotted home the rebound off a saved Burke shot. The goal was the forward’s fourth goal of his rookie campaign. An Oscar Jimenez free kick goal late in the second half helped Louisville City fight to escape with a 2-2 draw in front of their supporters.
Steel FC showed no fear against the conference leaders, gaining eight interceptions in the opening half. With Louisville unable to get into a passing rhythm, Steel FC took advantage with the opening goal. After a volley was knocked down by a Louisville defender, Burke collected the ball and fought off defenders as he dribbled toward the center of the box. With Adam Najem making a run, the Jamaican passed toward Najem, who back-heeled the ball toward Santi Moar. Unmarked, Moar raced toward the ball and was fouled by Louisville City FC goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh, awarding Steel FC a penalty kick. From the spot, Burke deceived the keeper to push the visitors ahead.
The two squads exchanged chances as the opening half progressed with Ranjitsingh getting a fingertip touch on a hard Moar cross into the box toward Burke while Steel FC’s Jake McGuire was called upon in the 44th minute to punch away a volley at the far post.
The energy level rose even higher in the final half as the two squads combined for three goals in 21 minutes to produce a deadlock. Louisville City found an equalizer in the 55th minute, after Luke Spencer was fouled inside the 18-yard-box. Defender Kyle Smith barely snuck it past a diving McGuire, as the 22-year-old keeper dove to the correct side.
Steel FC regained the lead in the 60th minute, using the dangerous combination from Burke and Moar. Finding the ball on the left side of the box, Burke took two touches toward the center before firing on frame that was stopped by a diving Ranjisingh. Unable to stop a rebound, Moar raced to the near post and tapped in the go-ahead goal.
Once again, Louisville City FC fought back to level things on the match’s final goal in the 76th minute. After substitute Richie Ballard was fouled 30 yards out, Jimenez delivered a low shot around the wall and into the bottom corner for the tying goal.
Steel FC returns to home next weekend when the club hosts in-state rival Pittsburgh at Goodman Stadium on Sunday, September 24. The match will be the club’s “Go Gold” 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.