BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (March 10, 2019) – Bethlehem Steel FC opened the 2019 USL Championship regular season on the road at expansion-side Birmingham Legion FC. Steel FC walked away with three points and a shutout win over Legion FC, with a 2-0 victory. Nine players made their debuts in the match for Steel FC.
The match started out with Legion FC holding possession and creating chances in deep while denying opportunities for the visitors. Steel FC would get more chances as the first half progressed and the club continued its high press. Despite great looks from both teams, the half ended level.
Bethlehem Steel FC would come out of the gates firing in the second half, getting on the board and drawing first blood quickly. Forward Kacper Przybylko ripped off a header that was saved, then collected his own rebound and buried it in the back of the net for a 53rd-minute goal. Midfielder Zach Zandi, assisted by Matt Real, added to the Steel’s lead in the 68th minute, firing off a shot from outside the box that went around the keeper to hit the post and go in. Both Przybylko and Zandi scored on their Steel debuts. Goalkeeper Matt Freese, also making his first apperance for Steel FC, added three saves in the match and to earn the shutout.
Bethlehem Steel FC hosts North Carolina FC in the club’s home opener at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday, March 16 (7:30 p.m. ET | Talen Energy Stadium | Chester, Pa)
BST – Kacper Przybylko (Unassisted) 53’
BST – Zach Zandi (Matt Real) 68’
BHM – Mikey Lopez (caution) 42’
BHM – Femi Hollinger-Janzen (caution) 73’
BST – Saed Díaz (caution) 76’
BHM – Eric Avila (caution) 90+4’
Bethlehem Steel FC: Matt Freese; Matt Real, Jamoi Topey, Ben Ofeimu, Issa Rayyan; James Chambers ©, Chavany Willis; Zach Zandi (Jack de Vries 90+6’), Anthony Fontana; Saed Díaz (Cole Turner 88’), Kacper Przybylko (Shanyder Borgelin 90+4’)
Substitutes not used: Tomás Romero; Walter Cortés, Nathan Harriel
Birmingham Legion FC: Trevor Spangenberg; Kyle Culbertson, Marcel Appiah, Kyle Fisher, Eric Avila; Daniel Johnson, Daigo Kobayashi (Marcos Ugarte 81’), Mikey Lopez ©, Prosper Kasim (Gael Mabiala 90+2’); Chandler Hoffman, Femi Hollinger-Janzen (Tyler Turner 73’)
Substitutes not used: Joe Nasco; Benjamin Kucera, Mathieu Laurent, Tyler Savitsky
- The match against Birmingham Legion FC was the 100th match in charge for Head Coach Brendan Burke. Burke has amassed a 33-40-27 record across all competitions in his four seasons with Steel FC. Burke has helped managed the Steel to two USL Cup Playoffs births, including leading the club to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time in the club’s modern-era founding.
- Kacper Przybylko and Zach Zandi both scored their first goals for Bethlehem Steel FC. This was also the debut match for both players. Przybylko signed a new contract with Philadelphia Union on December 17, 2018 after joining the Union in earlier in 2018. Zandi signed his first professional contract for Bethlehem Steel FC on January 8, 2019.
- Goalkeeper Matt Freese earned his first career shutout, making three saves in the match. Freese signed for Philadelphia Union on December 21, 2018 after playing two seasons of collegiate soccer at Harvard University.
- Nine players made their debuts for Steel FC in the match against Birmingham Legion FC, including three Philadelphia Union Academy Players. Matt Freese and Kacper Przybylko both started and made their debut appearances for the Steel. Steel FC players Jamoi Topey, Chavany Willis, Zach Zandi and Saed Díaz all started and made their debuts as well. Union Academy players Cole Turner, Shanyder Borgelin and Jack de Vries all made substitute appearances for the first time.