After an early morning match in the pouring rain on Thursday, Bethlehem Steel FC will continue its three-match homestand when it hosts in-state rival Harrisburg City Islanders on Sunday, May 28. Kick off from Goodman Stadium is set for 5 p.m. and can be streamed online both on YouTube and on the club’s website along with locally on Service Electric.
Steel FC faces a short turnaround as it caps off a strenuous three game stretch in eight days. After falling in the previous two matches by a single goal, Bethlehem Steel FC will look to bounce back against one of the club’s fiercest rivals. Thursday morning, playing in the club’s Education Day that saw students from around the Lehigh Valley join the team for the matinee kickoff, Steel FC came up short to Eastern Conference leaders Charleston Battery by a 1-0 margin. Atlanta United forward Romario Williams’ provided the game’s only goal, as he scored his league-leading eighth goal of the season in the 32nd minute. Steel FC nearly knotted up the contest in the waning moments on a long distance shot from team captain James Chambers but was denied by the woodwork.
“Disappointed with the result, and I thought we lacked discipline defensively in the second half in terms of our overall shape,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “I thought Jake [McGuire] did a great job keeping us in the game. On the flip side of it, we created a lot of opportunities to serve the ball in the box and the service just wasn’t close to good enough. The ball off the crossbar — James [Chambers] hits a great ball. That's just unlucky. A few of the services that did end up with one of us getting on the end of it, we just have to execute in the box and be a little more composed in the box to make sure your effort ends up on frame.
Steel FC will look to knock off its Keystone rival Sunday afternoon, as the club looks to avenge an earlier loss to Harrisburg City Islanders. In a high-scoring affair at FNB Field that served as Harrisburg’s home opener, Steel FC rookie forwards Santi Moar and Chris Nanco scored their first professional goals to lead the club offensively. The hosts escaped with all three points with a 90th minute goal from substitute Cardel Benbow, With a draw looming, Paul Ribeiro found Benbow who dribbled through and found space to give the hosts the win.
“I’m expecting them to try to counter us, to sit in and counter,” Burke said following Thursday’s match. “We’ll go back and look at their game in its entirety from Charleston. It’s good that we just played the same opponent, but we’ve seen them a number of times now. We know that they have good individual players and it will be a difficult task.”
Harrisburg will arrive in Bethlehem having picked up a single point in each of its last three league matches. On Wednesday, City Islanders played Pittsburgh to a scoreless draw in front of their home fans. The result came off a thrilling 2-2 draw against Charleston, with Jonathan Mendoza scoring a goal in the final minute of stoppage time. Offensively, Harrisburg City Islanders are led by former Philadelphia Union forward Aaron Wheeler’s two goals.