Bethlehem Steel FC started out the 2019 season with a lot of unknowns: on the road at an expansion club while using a new system and bedding in a crop of new, young, untested players. Villanova University alumnus and former Philadelphia Union academy player Zach Zandi was one such player, but his sensational performance against Birmingham Legion FC helped Steel FC open the year on a high note.
“My professional debut has been something that I’ve dreamt about since I was a kid and for as long as I can remember,” Zandi said. “Finally being able to accomplish that is truly special and something to be proud of. All the credit goes to my mom and dad who supported me throughout my career and helped me get to this point.”
Zandi notched his first-career goal in the 68th minute of Steel’s opener, picking up a cutting pass at the top of the box from defender Matt Real, taking a touch, and firing the ball off the post and in.
“I think anytime you score your first goal for a new team is something special, this one in particular because it also happened to be on my debut,” Zandi explained. “It was a thrilling feeling to be able to accomplish that, and it’s something that I will never forget.”
Steel FC fans – and Birmingham Legion FC defenders – weren’t the only ones to take notice of the diminutive midfielder. USL Championship awarded him Team-of-the-Week honors for his standout performance on an opening weekend with plenty of action and many worthy nominees.
“It’s great to be able to earn an individual accolade like that so early on in my career, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of my teammates and coaches who put me in great spots to be able to perform,” Zandi noted when asked about the honor. “It’s something to be happy about, but there are a lot more games to be played and keeping that consistency is my goal.”
Zach Zandi and Bethlehem Steel FC take on Memphis 901 FC on Sunday, March 24, at 6:00 p.m. ET at Talen Energy Stadium. Tickets for this match are still available here. The match will also be broadcast on ESPN+.