Things are moving ahead as the Bethlehem Steel FC inaugural season approaches. Players are starting to sign on with the new USL franchise, and training is beginning for the Philadelphia Union players, and tickets are available for season tickets, partial season, or single game. It appears the Union/SteelFC use the same ticketing folks (Comcast/Spectra) that the Phantoms do, so there are some fees included with single-game orders. As always, this is all the more reason to commit to a package–better prices and it saves the fees!
It turns out, der Eishockeyzuschauer knows a little about soccer as well. der FussballZuschauer files this report on the brand new professional team who will start play at Lehigh University this Spring:
“Cos if we catch you in the [penalty area]
Trying to pick our locks
We’re gonna send you back to mother
In a cardboard box
You better run”
Alright. So the first goalkeeper to ever stand between the sticks at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium on behalf of fledgling Bethlehem Steel FC may not quite prove himself to be the next Toni Schumacher. But still, just in case the intra-state arch-rival Harrisburg City Islanders get any crazy ideas about signing Patrick Battiston to a contract, opponents in the United Soccer League certainly should not be left to think that it is going to be some sort of Torschuetzenfest for them out there this season.
[Editor’s Note: 23yo goalkeeper Samir Badr was acquired by Steel FC from the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. He’s expected to be a depth/developmental player for the Union as well and has 3 caps for the US U-20 International Team. The Fairfax VA native also played for Oklahoma Energy FC, and in Egypt and Portugal, coming up through the FC Porto youth academy. He was well-liked and highly regarded in Colorado Springs, earning the nickname “Darth Badr.”]
The new reserve team (farm club, using proper American sports vernacular) for the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer have announced its inaugural playing schedule for this upcoming 2016 USL season and will begin to address its 30-game slate with an away match at FC Montreal on Friday, March 25th. It should be remembered that, even though Benedict Arnold’s famed invasion of Canada ultimately ended in failure, it is a certified historical fact that the Continental Army’s Irish-born general Richard Montgomery (who was later killed at the decisive Battle of Quebec) actually did succeed in capturing the city of Montreal in November of 1775. Given all the overt references to the American Revolution that the Philadelphia Union have always been associated with, expectations with respect to the result coming from Bethlehem Steel FC’s historic first-ever USL contest have been adjusted accordingly!
The very first USL game to be played at Goodman Stadium will arrive on Sunday, April 3rd, when FC Cincinnati, an expansion team with no MLS affiliation that is coached by two-time United States World Cup midfielder John Harkes, comes calling. As one might very well expect, exactly one half of Bethlehem Steel FC’s thirty games this term will be contested on home turf. With the notable exception of two Thursday matches in the middle of July, all of the USL affairs hosted by Goodman Stadium this season will be held on a Sunday :
Apr 3rd … 3 pm … FC Cincinnati
Apr 17th … tbd … Richmond Kickers
Apr 24th … tbd … Charleston Battery
May 1st … tbd … Louisville City FC
May 15th … tbd … FC Montreal
Jun 5th … tbd … New York Red Bulls II
Jul 10th … tbd … Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Jul 14th … tbd … Wilmington Hammerheads *
Jul 21st … tbd … Harrisburg City Islanders *
Jul 24th … tbd … Rochester Rinos
Jul 31st … tbd … FC Toronto II
Aug 7th … tbd … Charlotte Independence
Sept 4th … tbd … New York Red Bulls II
Sept 18th … tbd … Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Sept 25th … tbd … Orlando City B
* Thursday match
[Editor’s Note: The original schedule announcement had many of these games listed as 3PM or 4PM starts–with the caveat that they were “subject to change.” We’ll await more news, as well as start times for those two Thursday games.
Also, a “supporters group” is forming, the “East End Army.” “East End” because that was the field the original Bethlehem Steel Football Club played on. They’ll sit in a special section called “The Forge,” and carry on as per most supporter’s groups with the songs and the smoke and whatnot. We’ll have more on them, upcoming, as well. I believe they’ve already been recognized by the Bethlehem Steel FC organization. If you’re interested in getting involved, search them out and send a request on Facebook.
One more thing while I’m interrupting this post: There’s already a healthy interest in tailgating for these games–perhaps this is an advantage of the 3PM starts–a chance to get “warmed up.” However, beer sales at Goodman are verboten at this time, so it might be a “dry” game once it starts. Sources tell me the organization is in talks with Lehigh University on how this can be remedied. A “beer tent” perhaps? We’ll see.]
Although the kick-off times for all but one of Bethlehem Steel FC’s home games in 2016 have yet to be determined, one can rest assured that there are NO LIGHTS at Goodman Stadium and, thus, all USL matches must take place during daytime hours.
Seku Conneh, the 20-year-old striker who just recently earned his very first international “cap” for the senior national team of Liberia by coming on as a substitute in the 73rd minute of the World Cup qualification match against host Ivory Coast in Abidjan on November 17th, is, perhaps, the most intriguing of the baker’s dozen players currently on Bethlehem Steel FC’s roster at the moment.
Conneh spent several years playing youth team football for a few different professional clubs in Holland including a spell with Ajax Amsterdam, the traditional Dutch powerhouse that established its reputation for running a world-class youth team system eons ago. The Liberian attacker then made his senior professional debut as a teenager in the Dutch second division and had a rather respectable total of nine goals from 35 league games for lowly Fortuna Sittard over the course of the 2014/15 campaign. Next, Conneh parlayed that success into a new two-year contract with Dutch second division club FC Oss this past summer and began well enough but would eventually be suspended a month for detrimental conduct and later released outright.
Conneh started the first four league games as the central striker in the team’s three-pronged attack and scored a goal from the penalty spot on just his second appearance, a 2-1 win for FC Oss over VVV Venlo (the club that currently occupies second place in the 19-team Dutch second division). Having lost his place to Curacaoan internatoinal Felitciano Zschusschen, the soon-to-be Liberian international came off the bench as a substitute for FC Oss in the club’s next four games, which included the embarrassing 4-1 loss to amateur side HBC Craeyenhout in the second round of the annual KNVB Cup competition. Conneh marked his return to the first team by scoring a goal against his former employers during the 4-0 rout of Fortuna Sittard and retained his place the next week in the 3-1 loss to Sparta Rotterdam, as well.
Conneh was taken off at halftime of the 0-0 draw with PSV Jong and would never make another appearance for FC Oss again. The club were beaten badly (6-1) by NAC Breda their next day out (October 30th) and, despite not even being in uniform, the unused 20-year-old striker somehow managed after the match to become involved in “an incident” which netted the Liberian import what turn out to be a suspension lasting almost four full weeks. Eight days after coming off the bench for Liberia versus Ivory Coast in the World Cup qualification match, Conneh was reinstated by FC Oss and returned to regular training with the rest of the team but did not get another game – even as a substitute – and finally had his contract canceled by the club on December 29th.
Surely, the caliber of play in the Dutch second division is much higher than that to be found in the United Soccer League so this Conneh fellow is certainly someone to keep track of as the rest of Bethlehem Steel FC’s roster takes shape and pre-season training for the Lehigh Valley’s newest professional sports team begins in earnest.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the Steel FC, as well as further details about their roster as it becomes available.
See you at the match,
Categories: Bethlehem Steel FC, Kram's Korner - From the Club Level