Bethlehem Steel FC hits the road once again this week for the first of three road matches to finish out the 2019 USL Championship regular season. The Boys in Blue take on Atlanta United 2 on October 9. Kickoff from Fifth Third Bank Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and fans can catch all the action live on ESPN+.
Recent form – Atlanta United 2 is has been in a great run of form as they come down the final stretch of their season, spurred on by the strong play of Andrew Carleton and others. The Georgia side has picked up wins over both Ottawa Fury FC and Indy Eleven, while going an undefeated 3-1-3 in their last six matches. When you combine Atlanta’s form with their seven home wins (7-8-1 overall at home), then the hosts are probably the favorites in this match.
First-team success – Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United ended the MLS regular season in second place in the Eastern Conference and is set to host a 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs match in a couple of weeks. That leaves the club with a decision on if they rest their first-team players over these two weeks in preparation for a full-scale cup run or if they give a little help to Atlanta United 2. That could leave the USL Championship side with minimal to no help for their mid-week match against the Steel. It’s worth noting that this weakness applies to both squads in this matchup, as Philadelphia Union are in the same position with Bethlehem Steel FC.
Players to watch
Bienvenue Kanakimana, M #29 – Kanakimana has come out of nowhere this season. Through just 14 appearances in 2019, the Burundi native has tallied a team-high six goals. Only eight of 14 appearances have been starts, making him both dangerous and effective. The Steel need to be careful with Kanakimana and limit his time on the ball.
Andrew Carleton, F #30 – One of those that may be left off the ATL 2 roster depending on how Atlanta United decides to play their playoff run, Carleton is a key piece of what Atlanta United 2 is doing this season. The 19-year-old has made three appearances for the first team in 2019, while leading the USL Championship side in shots (33) through 15 appearances and becoming their second best goalscorer with five goals this season. He was also named as number 12 on USL Championship’s 20 Under 20 list in 2019.
Jack Metcalf, D #4 – Metcalf is a leader for Atlanta United 2. The team captain leads from either the midfield or as an outside back depending on the formation. He’s 27 and has plenty of experience in USL Championship, having previously played for Charlotte Independence for a few years. He leads the Georgia side in chances created (48) and is tied for second in assists with three this season.
Alessandro Castro – Out
Jackson Conway – Out
Tyler Ruthven – Out
Lawrence Wyke – Suspended
Bethlehem Steel FC takes on Atlanta United 2 in a mid-week matchup on Wednesday, October 9, at 7:30 p.m. ET from Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Fans can catch all the mid-week action live on ESPN+.