Rocket Robin Report: Toronto FC II vs Bethlehem Steel FC

Result and details of the Saturday May 13, 2017 USL game between Toronto FC II and Bethlehem Steel FC played at BMO Field in Toronto at 6:00pm.

7 min…BS Cory Burke turns and rolls pass forward from 50 yard line up right to BS Marcus Epps who receives it at 25 yards and cuts into top of the box on right. He slows down at 15 yards when facing TFC Brandon Aubrey and TFC Mitch Taintor comes up behind him and trips him up. Referee Pierre-Luc Lauzier awards BS a Penalty kick.

8 min…BS Cory Burke GOAL…Burke rolls Penalty kick to right side of net as goalie Angelo Cavalluzzo dives to left.

Final Score:….Toronto FC II……0……Bethlehem Steel FC…..1…

TFC was marketing a shutout streak that had lasted a full three games until their last game in Pittsburgh where they lost 1-0. Their goalie Angelo Cavalluzzo had won Save of the Week and Goalie of the Month during that time. The other way of looking at it was during the last five games TFC has not scored! Since losing 3-1 in Orlando (against Orlando City ‘B’) on April 4, they played 0-0 against Rochester (TFC’s only home game), Ottawa, and Louisville, before the Pittsburgh game.

Today was not a clash of powerhouses. TFC had a record of 1 win, 3 losses, 3 ties for fifteenth (last) place in the East and Bethlehem were until today 2 wins, 4 losses, 0 ties for da-da….fourteenth place! They are the affiliate of Philadelphia Union who are mired in last place in the MLS league so if their team can’t stock move on the big team who are looking for improvements, the pickings must be pretty slim.

On the visitor’s side I was cheering for Chris Nanco who I watched as recently as last year playing for League1 Ontario side Sigma FC. He had a good game which was running up the wing and getting crosses into the box but also getting a few shots in.  He also earned the only Yellow card of the game.

I didn’t realize until I was home but Josh Heard is a Welsh born Canadian who played for PDL Victoria Highlanders a few years ago and was subbed on today at 77 minutes. Nanco wasn’t even Sigma’s best USL player today as Richie Laryea scored for Orlando City B in their road win in front of 19301 in Cincinnati.

TFC II had been reinforced by MLS contract players, defender Ashtone Morgan, goalie Mark Pais, and forward Ben Spencer. It wasn’t a surprise to followers as they’ve all been on the TFC II roster earlier this season. Morgan played only the first half but he’s been recovering from an injury for what seems like a year. He was playing today as a winger. Ryan Telfer took his place for the second half and played almost as a forward. Pais filled in for the MLS team when Clint Irwin was injured but didn’t see any action and he won’t get to play with the Canadian Cavalluzzo playing so well this last month.

Tsubasa Endoh played almost all the free kicks and corner kicks. With the MLS team being so deep, he may not get back on the main roster. Ben Spencer was just given an MLS contract within the last two weeks but hasn’t seen any action.

There’s a group of Ben Spencer critics on-line. They are not going to be pleased that he won and espresso machine as Man of the Match (always a TFC II player). Laughable plays included at 53 minutes when he was given a through ball and rushed up the middle on the slight left and rolled a 22 yard shot directly to the goalie. 75 minutes had him take a low 20 yard shot from the right that was into the outside webbing of the net. 84 minutes had Spencer knock down a chipped pass at 20 yards but had a defender check him off the ball without getting away a shot.

TFC had three Canadian starters and three on the bench getting two of them into the game.

TFC head coach Greg Vanney was watching the game for the West stands with one of his younger kids.

Bethlehem goalie Jake McGuire earned the shutout. He had to make some key saves. He was sharp except on one play at 85 minutes, Shaan Hundal blasted a shot from 15 yards that he couldn’t hang on to and a defender had to boot the rebound behind the end line. Injury time had Hundal get to a cross and pop a header from 15 yards on the right that bounced and the goalie was able to catch it wide left of the post. Hundal only came in at 59 minutes and he’d have been my ‘Man of the Match’. Last year he was the teams leading scorer and now it’s hard for the Canadian to find playing time.

Angelo Cavalluzzo played goal for TFC II. He didn’t have much to do which is good as having to make the ‘save of the week’ means the defense is letting you down! Of course partly it’s on the visitors as #14 in the league tables until today.

Attendance was announced as 3033 which was certainly a season best for this team although it’s only their second home game of the year and is likely not to be repeated as the team usually plays at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan just outside the city limits of Toronto. They were piggybacking off the MLS game that had finished an hour earlier in which Toronto FC beat Minnesota United 3-2 in front of 27,249. Another quarter of the fans who stayed for beginning of the USL game left by halftime.

The fans were corralled into the East stands except the supporter groups who were allowed to stay in the South—probably for the best as they don’t mingle well with the families watching in the East. I wasn’t taking anything for granted as I brought my TFC II ticket today too in case I ended up out in the parking lot. We had to wait ‘upstairs’ at the 200 level while the lower section was cleaned. TFC alumni Dwayne De Rosario was signing autographs and a DJ was playing songs. I didn’t know that area was accessible from the lower deck from inside. This extra level in proportion looks like it has more washrooms than ours. At about 5:30pm we were allowed back down—general admission although my row hadn’t been cleaned at all. The same beer sellers who had called last call at 65 minutes of the first game were back again selling until the end of the first half.

MLSE had really hit promoting this match hard. I heard about it through e-mail, team websites and twitter, and announcements today at the beginning, halftime, and end of the MSL game.

Production values were high with the same announcer as the MLS game, highlights on the video board after the first half of the game we were watching instead of another replay of the MLS game.

No excuses of people saying they didn’t know about it. It will be interesting to see how the team uses these figures. They could say retaining just over 11% of the fans proves they should move the team to another city filling a roster of some CanPL team once that gets going. They cover the salaries of their players but don’t have to cover stadium rental and staffing. Even today’s total (if it were true) is triple last year’s crowd in Vaughan for even ‘good’ weather days. This game had the first 20 minutes played in a light rain but fans were sheltered by the roof.

TFC II’s next game is Friday May 19 at Ontario Soccer Centre with a 5:00pm kickoff. This game might start off with very low as most people are just getting off work at that time. The Rowdies are second in the East as of last week’s standings and are aiming big trying to get an MLS franchise and just had their city agree to a stadium proposal.

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Robin Glover

Robin Glover

Robin has been writing about soccer in the Toronto area for message boards and his own website since the early 1990s in the days of 2400 baud modems to USENET sites. In the 2014 season he attended 76 games in various leagues that played in the GTA area. Follow Robin on Twitter and on his website

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