Bethlehem Steel FC are ready to kick off the inaugural USL season against FC Montreal, who are also fairly new to the league. The long awaited Lehigh Valley region team was introduced to the USL in August 2015 and head coach Brendan Burke and players will look to continue the legacy of the original Bethlehem Steel FC that played during the early 1900s.
“We are trying to mirror the image of the city in Bethlehem and the history of the club, the steel workers,” said Burke. “We want to be a blue collar, hard working conscientious team that digs in, and doesn’t get beat first and foremost.”
Bethlehem Steel FC are one of five new teams added to the USL this season. Although the team is brand new, they have a direct line to the Philadelphia Union organization and Earnie Stewart.
“We are hoping to accomplish the same things tactically that the first team does,” added Burke. “A big part of this project is to support first team player development. I think we’ll have a few involved in that game [First game] for sure. Guys that have maybe even played a little bit for the first team already this year,”
Eric Ayuk, Leo Fernandes, Fabian Herbers, John McCarthy, Walter Restrepo, Taylor Washington and Joshua Yaro are all the Philadelphia Union players that are included in the squad for the first game.
Steel FC played five friendlies during the preseason, winning three against Syracuse Univesity, Harrsiburg City Islanders and Georgetown University. They drew a hard fought 1-1 tie against the New York Red Bulls II team and lost against Villanova University 3-2.
FC Montreal look to play their second season in USL after their foundation in 2014. The Canadian side finished with a 8-16-4 record last year finishing in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. This season, they look to use some of their gained experience to make a playoff push. With an average age of 20 years old, they bring a very young and athletic squad to Friday’s match-up.
“Remembering from last year when I played against them, they are a very young group, very energetic, very athletic, they are definitely going to be looking to get after it,” said midfielder Bolu Akinyode. “It’s the first game of the season for them as well. Them being home there is going to be a lot of high energy and we just have to match their intensity for the first 20 minutes of the game and then go from there.”
Friday’s game will kick off at 7 p.m. and be available via live stream at bit.ly/SteelLIVE.
2016 USL Regular Season
Date: Friday, March 25, 2016
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Stade Olympique, Montreal, Quebec
Bethlehem Steel FC: 0-0-0 (0 points)
FC Montreal: 0-0-0 (0 points)