After three games on the road, Bethlehem Steel FC return to the friendly concrete stadium at Lehigh University at a crossroads for their season. They were able to take two victories–and the crucial three standings points for each–in two of the three road games. While there were some expansion teams involved, that’s still not an easy thing to do. They’ve also won three of their last four overall.
“There aren’t many teams that are consistently winning on the road, they might get draws but it’s hard to win on the road,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “We’ve told the guys that energy and fight are the two keys ingredients and they showed both of them in the second half at North Carolina.”
But in comes Louisville City FC, the defending USL Champions. They’re in second place in Eastern Conference, just a point behind Cincinnati. The Steel are tied with two other teams for seventh–right on the line between playoffs or nah. It’s time to show whether the 2018 Steel squad belongs with the better teams, or with the also-rans. Louisville City provides that test today.
“We are only 13 games into the season and you don’t start calling games must-wins using massive urgency,” Burke said to media this week. “I think the urgency is something we are trying to instill into the guys week to week anyway and if they can’t get up for the top team in the league that just beat an MLS opponent last night, then what would you get up for. Between that and going to Cincinnati, these are two massive opportunities for whatever guys get to roll out onto the field.”
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m. ET
Location: Goodman Stadium, Bethlehem, PA.
Bethlehem Steel FC: 5-5-2
Louisville City FC: 7-2-1
Match Day Twitter: @BSteelFC
Game Day Hashtag: #BSTvLOU
Game Notes: bit.ly/2JvzNFj
Match Preview: bit.ly/2sH5NzO
Match Center: bit.ly/2Jm7hKa
WHAT TO WATCH
- With the Union loss last night at home, players who didn’t get into that game should be available to play with the Steel today per the coaches desires from both levels. Remember, look at the numbers to determine the players–low numbers 1-33 are Union/MLS players, numbers 34-49 are Steel FC/USL players, and any numbers 50+ are Union Academy players, the youngsters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a nice contingent of Union players in this crucial home game–but that’s not always a good thing for the Steel, who need that “energy and fight” that Coach Burke is looking for.
- Today is Youth Soccer Day, so watch for groups from many of the local clubs at today’s game. Gates open at 4PM, and the first 500 fans 18 and under will get a mini-soccer ball.
- Watch for let-downs. The game should be pretty close but the times when Steel give up goals you can almost feel them falling asleep as the other team organizes an attack. You can feel those goals coming, and I hate them. Look for the team to close out the first half and open the second strong–to not do that could spell doom.
- Derrick Jones and Corey Burke both played in last night’s match in Chester, so they’d have to be considered questionable to appear today–which is unfortunate because they’re both pretty good at helping the offensive attack.
- There’s always a chance that a thunderstorm kicks up, but weather looks to be a gorgeous 82 at match time.
- Parking has been free and generally without hassle this season. Sometimes lots are blocked off, but it’s been pretty easy to navigate and find a spot. If you arrive early, there’s a lively tailgate scene.
- If you’re not going, the game can also be seen locally, for free, via Service Electric TV2/502.
See you at the match,
Portions of the above post were prepared with material from Bethlehem Steel FC Media Department