Bethlehem Steel FC began preseason camp this week in Clearwater, Florida for their first official training sessions of 2019. The newest faces of the squad will soon be joined by the veteran presence of team captain James Chambers.
As Steel FC kicked off a great day of training in the Florida sunshine, the squad was joined by trialists and 17 members of Philadelphia Union's Academy. Returning Steel FC squad members Faris and Selmir Miscic and new acquisition Zach Zandi led by example in the training sessions, with a number of academy players eager to make their presence and effort known.
“We are excited to be down here in Florida. I think it’s an important step for the club, for us to be combined with the [Union] for the first eight or nine days of the preseason,” said Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke. “It gives our guys a lot of opportunities to see things in training, but also in training games, in these first two weeks."
"There will be important lessons that we now try to apply to the new playing style. This has been really beneficial for us and this is a big step forward for all of the young guys in the club.”
Tuesday’s training sessions were energetic and exciting, with the players already motivated to build off of last year’s playoff run. After a series of activations and warm-ups, the club went into passing drills, stressing timing and searching for the breakthrough pass. The sessions each ended with finishing drills.
“First few days have been great. The first day was light, just trying to get the legs going from the plane, but it’s been really good these first few days,” said Steel FC midfielder and former Union academy player Selmir Miscic. “I’m excited for the season, we’ve had some good additions that we’ve added, so the team is looking good and there are obviously more additions coming. We are excited for the season and I think we have a good team.”
Five Steel FC players did not participate in the club's training sessions on Tuesday. James Chambers, Saed Diaz and Steve Kingue are all still awaiting approval of their P1 visas and will be joining preseason camp as their visas are approved. Michee Ngalina and Ben Ofeimu, both key members of Steel FC's playoff run in 2018, were invited to training with the Union first team this week.
Steel FC continues training for the rest of this week before a closed-door scrimmage against D.C. United on Saturday, February 2 at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex.