“Nothing over our heads” you heard head coach Tim Mulqueen shouting in the 88th minute. He wanted that defense tucked in tighter than a newborn baby in winter.
What saw a 901 lineup structure with 3 changes from the Loudon game resembled a 4-3-3 for most of the match, but changed to a 4-5-1 quickly, with 10 men being behind the ball for the last 15 minutes. Bethlehem Steel seemed to be the dominant team for the better part of the game, having almost double the shots, and 60+ percent possession. You would be surprised to hear we were up 1-0.
The lone goal was pushed through by Rashawn Dally in the 58th minute, with a nifty angled shot over the shoulder of Matt Freese. Outside of a peculiar no-call in the 95th that resulted in Jeff Caldwell being knocked down and a corner for Bethlehem, Memphis had the game won.
#1 Jeff Caldwell (7) – The announcers said it best about Caldwell; with a minority owner being Tim Howard, you best believe we will have a great goal keeper. I’m speaking out of context here, but that was the gist of their statements towards the end of the game. Caldwell wasn’t entirely tested once again, with the two closest shots hitting off the post. He did however have some of the stickiest hands I’ve ever seen, and one bobble would’ve seen a drop in front of the goal for a Bethlehem player to bury in the net. The only thing I can see that needs improving is his passing game (one being a lowball down the middle to an opposing player, and another that lofted out of bounds over the head of the left back). Do note this: Jeff Caldwell’s proprioceptors are in full force, allowing him to know his zone better than anyone
#2 Morgan Hackworth (6) – Sorry, that was a long. I promise to not make Morgan’s piece as long. Hackworth got his start this game due to 2 things. First, some international players were called up to duty in friendly matches and second, with the formation played by Mulqueen, we needed someone that could challenge the defense. Morgan pressed from the first minute, which may have helped account for the mental mistake made by Bethlehem’s left back.
#3 Abdi Mohamed (5.5) – I don’t have much on the NYCFC loaned player Mohamed from this game, but considering this is his first start on defense for us, I believe that’s a good thing. If I had a suggestion, I would like to see him swing out more on the corner for attacks, and play less reserved on the counterattacks. Outside of that, I cannot complain about his defensive efforts when there are no goals scored against us.
#6 Dan Metzger (7.5) – Have yourself a game, Danny boy! His defense was sound, but the magic this game was his offense. The hold up play on offense (and probably the best shot of scoring outside of our actual goal) and ball movement in the midfield created so many options in the offensive half. With Adam Najem away on international duty, we needed someone to step up in the midfield, and Metzger did just that.
#8 Marc Burch (6.5) – Burch was solid again on the ground (outside of one poor pass that led to a quick counterattack, but I digress). His command of the defense, with some cheeky passing out of the back makes it hard to ever criticize his play. I will say that his aerial game has left me wanting something different. One play in particular in the 64th minute saw an ill-timed jump lead to a dropped ball at the feet of the opposing forward. Luckily, nothing negative happened and he’s still a modern day hero.
#14 Rashawn Dally (7) – GOOOOAAAALLLLAAASSOOOO!!! I definitely am a fan of the 4-3-3 that was often ran tonight. I also solely believe Dally’s goal was due to the constant pressure the forwards pushed onto the defense, which caused that colossal lapse in thought from the left back on the pass back to the keeper. Give yourself a hand Dally, because your offensive efforts off the ball led to our first win.
#17 Ewan Grandison (3.5) – There’s not much good that can be said about Grandison’s game. He missed marking his man, he had a horrendous tackle in the 77th that led to an imposing free kick, and the two shots that dinked off the post from Bethlehem had one thing in common, which were that Grandison was the defender in front of the ball. His positive play were some 1-2’s with Muckette in the midfield. More of that is welcome.
#20 Todd Pratzner (7) – The amount of goals that probably should’ve been scored against us without Pratzner’s defense tonight is unfathomable (not really, but he did play with incredible intensity). He easily stopped 2 goal scoring opportunities in front of the box, which helped make Caldwell’s night a breeze.
#21 Duane Muckette (6.5) – Muckette seemed to be in the right place at the right time this game (even somehow found his head stopping a direct corner kick). He’s also on pace to have 5,000 shots on goal by the end of the season (and hopefully a handful of goals). There wasn’t anything spectacular out of Muckette this game, but he improved on his mistakes from last week. It might have been the attacking strategy that stopped Muckette from taking so many crosses (which were just not good against Loudon).
#22 Wesley Charpie (6) – Talk about the tale of two halves. He started off with a poor tackle in the 18th, and played two hospital balls to his outside midfielders that made it seem like he would be subbed at half. Although, Charpie’s second half defense (specifically shielding off a defender on a 1v1 in the 80th minute) helped save him from a poor ranking, and a potential goal scoring opportunity against us.
#23 Leston Paul (5) – Not much to say about Paul’s start tonight. He was active in some short game play, and was the player to set up Metzger on the shot outside the 18. He also registered a shot on goal with an effort that looks like he botched the attempt. Outside of that, he was non-existent in most of the game play.
— Casey Long