Union organization making its mark
The Union organization had an exceptional night, with benchmarks being set from the Academy to the Union. To start off, the Union finished it's match against English Premier League team Swansea City AFC with a 2-2 draw, with four players making their Union debuts. In the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Alejandro Bedoya and Chris Pontius also made their mark with the US Men's National Team. Bedoya captained his second USMNT match and made two assists against Nicaragua, where the team earned its 3-0 win. It was the first time Pontius and Bedoya started together for the USMNT. And Bethlehem Steel FC, having seven academy players in its game day roster and fielding zero Union players, extended its unbeaten streak to eight games. In his post game press conference, Head Coach Jim Curtin said it was a very positive night for the organization, and something he is extremely proud of.
"This was a very positive night in a lot of ways," Curtin said. "To have international players do well for our country, to have young kids coming up and making our decisions tough on the field, the success of Bethlehem Steel and how that's grown. I think it is always good to step back occasionally because we do get caught up. We do want to win first and foremost, but at the same time it is good sometimes to step back and see that there are some real positive things that the fan base can be proud of."
Younger players stepping up for the first team
The international friendly against Swansea allowed ample opportunity for younger players to step up and earn key playing time. Curtin said he is pleased with the team's performance against a top-tier league, and expressed how hard younger players work in practice and that tonight was about rewarding them. Younger players like Anthony Fantana came through in the second half, and made a name for himself on the pitch in his season debut with the first team. In his press conference, Curtin said Fantana looked experienced in his short amount of playing time and has a bright future ahead of himself.
"The kid makes you smile," Curtin said. "He's been around our group now and in the preseason it felt like in a mascot kind of way. But then he gets on the field and it's like, 'Woah, this kid is real.' It's exciting now for him to see him to step on the field with pros and you can see he's not scared. Again, as soon as he took that shot, everyone, myself included, got real excited. It looked like he caught the goalkeeper off guard a little bit and it sailed at the end. But that's what he brings. He plays and moves, he doesn't stand after he plays the ball. He's always looking to get on the end of things for and for midfielder who can get goals is so valuable. There's a lot of talent in him and a bright future."