Bethlehem Steel FC will open their preseason slate in a closed-door scrimmage against D.C. United on Saturday, February 2, at 11 a.m. ET. With a squad full of new players, filled out by a sizable group of Union Academy players, expectations are that the club will play with high energy and a hunger to prove themselves in front of the Steel and Union technical staffs. Under a new system brought in by Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner, the club’s style-of-play will feature a high-intensity press and a focus on winning the ball in the midfield.
Although many of Steel FC’s signed players will participate in the match, Michee Ngalina and Ben Ofeimu have been training with Philadelphia Union all week and played in the Union’s scrimmage against New York Red Bulls last Wednesday, so it's unclear if they will rejoin Steel FC for Saturday's scrimmage. Steel FC midfielder Zach Zandi and Union Academy player Cole Turner, who plays for the academy’s U19s, also featured in the Union’s 3-2 win, though they are more likely to play with Brendan Burke's Steel FC squad on Saturday.
Following approval of their P1 Visas, James Chambers and Saed Diaz will join the team ahead of the D.C. United match. The Irish-international will serve as team captain once again this season, helping to lead a squad of young, talented players as they seek to return to the USL playoffs while developing their games under returning Burke. Young talents like Brenden Aaronson and Olivier Mbaizo grew into MLS-ready players last season, and academy defender Ofeimu earned a Steel FC contract.
The closed-door scrimmage against D.C. United kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, February 2, at 11:00 a.m. ET.