Yeisley returns to LV
Bethlehem Steel FC notched their first home win of the season Sunday April 17 after defeating the Richmond Kickers 2-1 at Lehigh’s Goodman Stadium. It also marked a homecoming for Salisbury graduate, Jason Yeisley, who has spent the past five seasons playing for the Major League Soccer affiliate of DC United.
Yeisley, 29, was back in the Lehigh Valley on Sunday, playing his first game in the area since he graduated in 2004 in front of family, friends and former coaches.
Despite his side going down to Steel FC, Yeisley’s postgame festivities featured plenty of pictures and conversation with the people who came to see him play.
“It was very special for me to come back here and play in front of all the people that have supported me throughout the years,” Yeisley said. “To play in front of them was an incredible opportunity and it meant so much to me and I had a really good time doing it.”
Yeisley has bounced around the American soccer pyramid ever since being drafted by FC Dallas in 2010 of the MLS SuperDraft. From there it’s been stops in the USL Pro league with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, followed by his long-term deal with Richmond.
With the USL acting as a feeder system for many clubs in MLS these days, Yeisley understands that his playing days will end sooner than later.
That’s why Sunday’s visit to the area left him sentimental.
“There was a lot of motivation to play well in front of everybody,” said Yeisley. “There was some extra pressure for this game because I wanted to have a good performance in front of my old coaches. They’re the ones that really helped me become the player I am today and I wanted to show that.”
Sunday’s victory marked Steel FC’s first home win of the season in front of the Bethlehem faithful, as the team took a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute off Eric Ayuk’s shot from the top of the 18.
After the halftime intermission, Steel FC doubled their advantage when a turnover by Richmond created a shot by Derrick Jones at the top of the box to beat keeper Ryan Taylor to the left corner.
Head coach Brendan Burke wanted his team to keep their foot on the gas after the lead and felt they largely accomplished that, despite giving up a goal in 55th minute off a set piece to cut their advantage in half.
“We talked at length at halftime about not dropping into a shell and absorbing too much pressure. Disappointed to give up a goal on a set piece, but I felt we maintained pressure in Richmond’s half and were able to be dangerous.”
The win moves Steel FC (2-2-0) up two spots in the standings to eighth place with six points through four matches, as they handed Richmond (2-1-1) their first defeat of the season.
While Yeisley was disappointed with the loss, he was happy about the opportunity.
“Obviously, you always want to win,” he said, “but it was still a good day to be back here with family and to see all this support.”
Steel FC return to action on Sunday, April 24 when they take on the Charleston Battery at 3 p.m.