It’s been a few years since Bethlehem Steel FC has had a goalkeeper signed to a USL Championship contract, but that changed at the beginning of August when the club brought in Todd Morton from Real Monarchs on a transfer from the Western Conference. Morton is the first man to wear the gloves on a Steel contract since Samir Badr and Matt Perrella in 2016. The move came ahead of the club’s match against Hartford Athletic on August 1, with his transfer being announced earlier that morning. With Morton in the starting lineup for that match, he certainly had a trial by fire in eastern Pa.
“It was something that I was looking forward to,” Morton said. “The whole idea was that I wanted to come in, try to get the opportunity to play and I was fortunate that I was able to do that here. Obviously they were tough games, but as a player that’s exactly what I want, to experience that as early as I can just to try to gain that experience in itself. I think, in terms of how it’s been going, I can’t really ask for more.”
Since his transfer to Steel FC on August 1, Morton has started in both of the club’s matches against Hartford Athletic (August 1) and Nashville SC (August 10). The University of Delaware product has compiled a total of 15 saves through those two games and recorded his first-professional clean sheet, shutting out the Eastern Conference’s leading scorer Daniel Ríos and MLS-bound Nashville SC on the road in his last outing. His performance against Nashville earned him recognition across the league, as he was named to the Team of the Week for his efforts. There’s still time left for a push in the USL Championship regular season and Morton is looking to bolster the Steel’s defensive efforts.
“Hopefully more clean sheets, right? As far as going forward I obviously want to try and do what I can to help the team succeed,” stated Morton. “I’ll do whatever it takes, whether that be making saves, just having a game where I’m organizing everyone or something like that, basically whatever I can add to the game to help us be successful.”
A professional homecoming
Morton is originally from West Chester, Pa. and went to high school at Henderson, before playing four years of collegiate soccer at the University of Delaware. The move from Real Monarchs to the Steel brings the 23-year-old shot stopper back home and gives him the chance to develop his professional game in front of his family.
“It’s been amazing so far with the transition. In the first place it’s just crazy how it worked out,” noted the West Chester, Pa. native when asked about coming back to play for his hometown club. “I wasn’t really expecting it to happen, but to come out here out of nowhere like that is wild. Since I’ve been here it’s been an unreal experience so far, all of the people here have been amazing and obviously with getting the chance to play you can’t really ask for more, especially in your home town. It’s been wild.”
Bethlehem Steel FC is off this weekend before returning to Talen Energy Stadium to host Birmingham Legion FC on Sunday, August 25 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Tickets are available here, with the match set to be broadcast on ESPN+.