When Faris joined Bethlehem Steel a year and a half ago, he was far from a finished product. The physical tools were there, but his game needed to be refined: When to make the runs, how to press as part of a team, what to do to become a true force up front.
Now Faris, who scored 11 goals and added one assist in 2019, is the leading scorer of modern-era Steel FC, and he has done it by embracing the defensive side of the game and becoming a terror for opposing defenses. Additionally, he has developed a stellar partnership with recent Union signee Michee Ngalina.
The Cameroonian forward’s 2019 campaign didn’t start off the way that he wanted, as he missed the Steel’s first two matches with an injury picked up during preseason. After making his season debut in the club’s match against Memphis 901 FC on March 24, Faris opened his 2019 account quickly with two goals in his first three matches. While he continued to show his strength as an individual, the 19-year-old also grew his connection with Ngalina. The pair scored a total of 17 goals this year, with 11 of those tallies happening while they shared the field.
Although the Steel struggled towards the end of this year’s USL Championship regular season, Faris continued to produce opportunities and goals. Scoring four in the club’s final four matches of the regular season, he earned himself a USL Championship Player of the Month nomination in October and set a new Steel FC record in the process, blowing past Seku Conneh’s 10-goal season from 2017 with a team-leading 11 goals.
The forward’s 10th goal of the season, the one that brought him level with Conneh, was a big one for him personally. After the match Faris said, “I was frustrated at the beginning of the game, but while the game was still going on, I always tried to give my best and try to get to 10 goals. It’s not easy to do against a team like Ottawa [Fury FC], good opponent and good players. Getting 10 goals this season is huge for me, since last season I only had three goals.”
As the 2019 season comes to a close and the team starts to prepare for 2020, changes will surely be made. Some players will leave and others will stay and continue their professional development with the Steel. Faris’ contract is up at the end of this year and questions about his future with the Steel are sure to be answered in the coming weeks. One thing is for sure, Faris has written his name into the Steel FC history books with a remarkable season up front.