Steel FC Knocks off Tampa Bay to Secure USL Cup Playoff Spot
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Knowing exactly what result was needed to secure a trip to the USL Cup Playoffs, Bethlehem Steel FC converted on a first-half opportunity to knock off the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 1-0.
Michee Ngalina scored the winning goal for his sixth of 2018, finishing off the opportunity set up by Brenden Aaronson. On the other side of the pitch, Philadelphia Union goalkeeper John McCarthy made six saves to claim the club's ninth shutout of the season. With the win, Steel FC is off to the USL Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season and will play either the Pittsburgh Riverhounds or Charleston Battery depending on other results Sunday.
"It's a great accomplishment and the players were excellent," Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. "They had to dig in and fight the field conditions because they were really poor today. Today is a celebration of the season, more than just one game. Ugly game but we'll take it anyway it comes and to get three points against a franchise that big [in] your final home game. We're going into the playoffs happy and energetic which is the best way to go in I think."
With just a win, draw or even a loss by less than three goals, Bethlehem Steel FC came out on the offensive with an early goal. After seeing a chance not converted seconds earlier, Steel FC responded with a quick passing pattern to net the winning goal. Team captain James Chambers started the attack winning a goal kick and passing it to Fabian Herbers who sped quickly to the offensive third. With the defense racing back, Herbers directed the ball to Santi Moar on this left who fired a one-touch pass centrally to Aaronson. With a quick touch toward goal making the Rowdies' center back commit to him, he laid it off for a wide open Ngalina. Taking a touch with his right foot, the 18-year-old fired a rocket into the upper 90 for the goal.
Steel FC will claim the fifth seed in the East and travel to fourth-seeded Charleston if Red Bulls II draws or loses in its finale. Should New York claim all three points against the Riverhounds, Steel FC would claim sixth and travel to third-placed Pittsburgh.
Bethlehem Steel FC 1, Tampa Bay Rowdies 0
Shots: 17-9 (Tampa Bay)
Shots on goal: 7-6 (Bethlehem)
Corners: 6-3 (Bethlehem)
BST - 13' Michee Ngalina (Brenden Aaronson)
BST - 44' James Chambers (Yellow Card)
BST - 76' Fabian Herbers (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
John McCarthy; Matt Real, Ben Ofeimu, Matt Mahoney, Olivier Mbaizo; James Chambers, Anthony Fontana; Santi Moar (Chris Nanco 84'), Brenden Aaronson (Drew Skundrich 71'), Michee Ngalina; Fabian Herbers (Faris 76').
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, Brandon Aubrey, Aidan Apodaca, Omar Holness,
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES STARTING XI
Akira Fitzgerald; Tarek Morad, Pape Diakite, Hunter Gorskie; Leo Fernandes, Martin Vingaard, Lance Rozeboom (Alex Morrell 64'), Kwadwo Poku (Jaime Chavez 64'), Afrim Taku (Joe Cole 86'); Leon Taylor, Sebastian Guenzatti.
Substitutes not used: Cody Mizell, Zac Portillos, Max Lachowecki, Michael Nanchoff.
Officials: Sergii Demianchuk (Referee); Joshua Encarnacion (Assistant Referee), Patrick Casey (Assistant Referee), Patrick Sudol (Fourth Official).
LVHN TEAM NOTES
- With the win, Bethlehem Steel FC is headed to the USL Cup Playoffs for the second-consecutive season.
- Steel FC concludes the regular season with single-season records in overall wins (14), points (50), goals (56) and wins at home (8).
- Michee Ngalina's first-half goal was his sixth of 2018 and puts him in a tie for the club record for most goals by a rookie (Santi Moar 2017). Ngalina is also tied with Moar for the 2018 team lead in goals.
- Brenden Aaronson picked up his fifth assist of the season on Ngalina's goal. The 17-year-old is second on the team in assists, trailing Moar's eight.
- Goalkeeper John McCarthy picked up his fourth clean sheet of 2018. For his Steel FC career, McCarthy has 10 shutouts which puts him in a tie with Jake McGuire for most in club history.
Images from this story
Fabian Herbers of Bethlehem Steel FC sends a member of the Tampa Bay Rowdies airborne
Bethlehem Steel FC celebrate Michee Ngalina's goal vs. the Tampa Bay Rowdies
Michee Ngalina of Bethlehem Steel FC vs. the Tampa Bay Rowdies
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