Bethlehem Steel FC leapfrogged Keystone State rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC for 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings with a 3-0 road victory over Hartford Athletic on Friday night at Rentschler Field. Elsewhere, Christian Sorto came off the bench to score twice in his professional debut and help Loudoun United FC take victory over ATL UTD 2 at Audi Field.
HARTFORD, Conn. – Steel FC defeated the Athletic for its first road win since April 6. The hosts had a great opportunity to open the scoring the fifth minute when Mads Jorgensen’s cross-field pass sent Alex Dixon away down the right wing, but Steel FC goalkeeper Tomás Romero did well to come out and smother the striker’s shot. Instead, it was Bethlehem that went on to take the lead in the 17th minute with its first shot on target as Cole Turner sprung Faris behind the Hartford defense with a quick free kick and the forward finished coolly past Athletic goalkeeper Frederik Due. The visitors doubled their advantage eight minutes before halftime when Faris’ cutback deflected off a pair of Hartford defenders on its way to Issa Rayyan, who took a touch to evade Due and found the back of the net from six yards out. Athletic leading scorer José Angulo tried to cut into the deficit just before halftime, but Romero did well to stop his tight-angled shot and Bethlehem defenders got their bodies in the way of follow-up attempts from Nicky Downs and Danny Barrera. Just after the hour-mark Angulo turned provider, playing Dixon clean through down the left flank but Romero again made himself big to see off the danger. The Athletic probably should have gotten a goal back in the 71st minute when Harry Swartz’s right-wing cross found Downs at the back post, but he couldn’t find the target with his first-time volley. Due kept his side in the game with a one-on-one save against Faris seven minutes later, but the Hartford goalkeeper had no chance to stop a well-placed effort from Wálter Cortés in the 91st minute as Steel FC put an exclamation point on an emphatic road win.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Tomás Romero, Bethlehem Steel FC – The 18-year-old goalkeeper made eight saves to help Steel FC post its first shutout since the opening weekend of the regular season.
WASHINGTON D.C. – Christian Sorto scored a pair of goals in his professional debut to lift Loudoun over ATL UTD 2. The visitors had the better of the chances in the first half and Luiz Fernando nearly opened the scoring in the 27th minute when he fired a left-footed shot from a tight angle on frame, but Loudoun goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. just got a hand out in time to prevent getting beat at his near post. Edwards Jr. was nearly called into action again five minutes before halftime when Guillermo Benítez’s left-footed shot from a similar angle just strayed over the crossbar. Loudoun should have taken the lead on the hour-mark when Connor Presley escaped down the right wing and squared a pass across goal for Kyle Murphy to tap home, but the forward got his effort all wrong from close range. Sorto picked up the slack for his teammate just three minutes later, reacting quickest to a loose ball in the penalty area and cutting inside a defender before curling an inch-perfect finish into the bottom-right corner. He wasn’t done there, however, as Murphy played Sorto into acres of space and the debutant calmly slotted past ATL UTD 2 goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira to double the lead with 11 minutes remaining. Benítez brought the visitors within a goal with a wonderful left-footed shot into the top-right corner in the 86th minute but it proved to be nothing more than consolation as Loudoun held on for all three points.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Christian Sorto, Loudoun United FC – Sorto scored three minutes into his professional debut after coming on as a substitute and then tallied the eventual game-winner to help Loudoun to a 2-1 victory over ATL UTD 2.