Bethlehem Steel FC comes into the club’s 2019 USL Championship season opener as a very young squad, with many players expected to earn their first professional minutes this season. With Birmingham Legion FC having the presence of veteran players like Chandler Hoffman and Daigo Kobayashi, Head Coach Brendan Burke believes that focusing on the details is key for his squad in this match.
"I think the important part is that we don’t miss details. Details are very important,” Burke said. “Physicality is not somewhere where we are going to probably have the upper hand because their players are experienced in every position. Details on both sides of the ball will leave us in a better position to keep the game close as long as we can.”
It’s mentioned every year that starting off the season on the front foot is vital for every team. Brendan Burke thinks that his team will need to be fearless and relax into the situation that they are in. If they can do that quickly, then Steel FC will be able to adapt and challenge in the match against Birmingham.
"There has to be a fearlessness to the group,” Burke said. “The sooner they realize that they are here and there is nowhere to hide anymore, the sooner they realize that and relax and they do what it is that has gotten them here on an individual basis and a team basis, we’ll be in better shape. Some guys will accelerate faster than others. We’re definitely going to have some down days as a group, we know that. It’ll be more about how we absorb those moments, how we teach through those moments and how we stay positive, ultimately, as a group of 12 or 18 guys if you look at it that way.”
Steel FC was able to watch Philadelphia Union scrimmage against Birmingham Legion FC during preseason in Clearwater, Florida earlier this year. Being an expansion club, this opportunity was a valuable moment to be able to scout how Birmingham will play. Burke noted that he has a clear vision of how Birmingham will play and that winning the individual battles will be crucial for his side.
"I think I have a very clear vision of how Birmingham will play,” Burke said. “The biggest hurdle for us is winning those individual battles. As you mentioned, with all of their individual experience, that will be the tallest task on the day for us. We feel like we’ve prepared well, we feel like we are fit and it’s just a matter of now executing, which is that hardest thing to do. This is where the players take over and this is where there growth really gets exciting.”
Bethlehem Steel FC will open its regular season on Sunday, March 10th after the threat of severe weather pushed the contest against Birmingham Legion FC a day. Kick off from BBVA Compass Stadium is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on ESPN+.