Bethlehem Steel FC concludes the club’s three-game homestand looking to rebound from a loss to Memphis 901 FC in USL Championship action. Although his side were unable to grab a result last time out, Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke thought his squad had made strides to achieving their goals. Despite the gains last weekend, Burke knows that they’ll have to face a Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC team this weekend that is hungry for a result at Talen Energy Stadium.
“Disappointing result last weekend, mostly because I thought we had accomplished everything that we talked about,” said Burke. “I thought we were well on top of the game and they didn’t look like they had a way into it in the second half. We made a mistake. That stuff happens. We need to pick up, move on from it and make sure that we react well. We have a much stronger opponent in Pittsburgh [Riverhounds SC] coming in this weekend. We are well aware that they haven’t picked up the points that they probably would have expected to pick up at this point so far, so they’re coming in hungry as well. We have recent history with the playoff game with them, so we certainly from an experience standpoint and from a physicality standpoint that we are overmatched in a lot of ways this weekend. We need to be very finely detailed in the way that we prepare for the game and our attention to detail within the game, if we are fortunate enough to put ourselves in a good position again, not to have a letdown.”
The match against Pittsburgh will not be an easy one, with the Keystone State rivals having faced each other nine times in the regular season. While the clubs know each other well, Burke’s squad has had plenty of opportunities to learn and grow from those matches. Like most rivalries with clubs that know each other so well, the key will be in the details.
“Luckily some of them experienced Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh last year where we got smacked 4-1 and then they experienced the playoff game where we hung on and stood up and fought,” stated Burke. “The game is always going to be like that with Pittsburgh. It’s very fast, very physical, very direct and excellent on set pieces with targets everywhere and probably the best target in the League, for my money, in [Joe] Greenspan. There’s nowhere to hide. If you make mistakes on this day this can multiple goals put on you and the guys understand that because they’ve lived through it a couple of times. For the guys that haven’t lived through it, this is going to be an eye-opening experience this weekend.”
Brendan Burke has spoken to his team about the challenge that lies ahead for them this weekend. Pittsburgh led the USL Championship in shutouts last season with 17, but come to Talen Energy Stadium in search of their first clean sheet of 2019. Facing off against a very well-credentialed defense, it is also an opportunity for his squad to gain valuable experience.
“We’re probably staring down the best defensive team that we’ve seen so far this weekend,” Burke noted when asked about the challenge that Pittsburgh presents. “You look at their roster and you look at ours, there’s a gap in experience, in quality experience and that’s not easy to make up for. Especially when it’s a well-prepared group and a well-organized group in Pittsburgh, but these are the challenges. I respect what [Gregg] Berhalter said at halftime of the U.S. game when they were playing Chile. It’s as stiff a test as they’ve seen yet and we feel the same way going into Pittsburgh. There is absolutely nowhere to hide this weekend and if you’re tentative you’re going to get it worse. That’s all our guys need to know and we’ll grow through these experiences. Whatever gets laid on us or if we are able to put together a result, fantastic, but it’s not going to be the end of the world come Monday. We know that there’s a gap between the teams coming into the game.”
Bethlehem Steel FC will square off against their rivals from Pittsburgh at on Saturday, March 30. Kick off from Talen Energy Stadium is at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tickets for this match are still available and can be found here.