MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis 901 FC dismantled rivals Bethlehem Steel FC through a four-goal first half and a final score of 5-0 Saturday night.
The win marks the largest margin of victory in 901 FC franchise history.
Memphis had 60-percent possession, outshot Bethlehem 21-10 and completed a season-high 417 passes.
Midfielders, Cameron Lindley, Dan Metzger and Adam Najem combined for a passing completion percentage of 92%.
Center-back, Liam Doyle put in his best performance since joining the team with a goal and an assist.
Rarely at any level of professional soccer does one team have as dominant a first half as Memphis had against Bethlehem.
Forward, Elliot Collier opened the scoring seven minutes in.
Lindley slotted a through-ball to the left wing, which forced Bethlehem defender, Ben Ofeimu to stumble. Collier took advantage of the defender’s blunder and easily beat goalkeeper, Todd Morton with a shot into the bottom corner.
Memphis registered three consecutive shots on goal over the next eight minutes and broke through for the second goal.
Midfielder, Marcus Epps terrorized the Bethlehem back-line with a set of dribbles and worked his way into a one-vs-one scenario with Morton.
Epps essentially passed the ball across the face of goal and effortlessly into the back-post.
The Steele shifted a midfielder into a defensive position in an effort to limit space for the 901 FC.
The tactic worked for around 10 minutes, until Memphis scored a third in the 29th minute.
Lindley unlocked the Steele’s backline, with a weighted pass, which allowed Brandon Allen to receive the pass in space.
Allen took one touch and finessed his shot passed the outstretched hand of Morton to make it 3-0.
The striker found the back of the net again, in the 36th, to complete his first-half brace, following a fast break.
Memphis came into the second half up 4-0 and showed no signs of slowing down.
Lindley nearly scored from a set-piece, three minutes into the second half, but Morton pulled off the diving save.
The 901 FC earned another set-piece minutes later.
Through great team play, Memphis won their fourth corner of the match.
Lindley whipped in an in-swinging cross from the corner flag and Josh Morton connected with a header on frame.
The header would have bounced in but, Liam Doyle was in the way. Doyle quickly redirected the headed effort into the net to extend the lead to 5-0.
Bethlehem tightened up defensively for the final 30 minutes.
They played with five defenders and went with a more physical approach which prevented Memphis from extending the lead.
Memphis had a less than 4% chance of making the playoffs a month and a half ago.
Since then, the 901 FC has won five out of the last six and now sit two points out of the final playoff spot.
The Memphis 901 FC will play again Oct. 5 at the Indy Eleven.
By Caleb Hilliard