When Bethlehem Steel FC took on the PIttsburgh Rvierhounds Saturday evening, they did so without any players from the Union.
All of the Union reinforcements were up with the first team as they battled Swansea City AFC, and as a result, there were a record number of Union Academy players in the gameday 18.
Steel FC had seven Union Academy players in its gameday 18, only one of which had made a start for Steel FC before, which was 16-year-old goalkeeper Tomas Romero. Romero is the USL's youngest goalkeeper in its history to start a match.
During Steel FC's 1-1 draw to Pittsburgh, in which the team extended its unbeaten streak to eight games, three Union Academy players made their professional debuts. Brenden Aaronson, Tiger Graham and Seth Kuhn all came off the bench to help Bethlehem draw their cross-state rivals. With the draw, Romero also became the youngest keeper with a result in USL history.
Head Coach Brendan Burke praised the team for their composure during the match, especially the Academy kids who made their debuts.
“Very happy with the result considering we had three guys make their debut today; young goalkeeper who I thought performed really well for us and one of his saves was an excellent one at the end of the match to come out and close off the angle,” Bethlehem Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke said. “Really happy that we got so many guys an intro, this is what we are all about. We were a little bit light so it’s an important result for us. A lot of the guys that we’ve called character guys stepped up today and were just that. Really happy with the performance overall.”
Union Head Coach Jim Curtin also made it a point to acknowledge how having young players make their debut at different levels of the organization shows the progress of the club in developing its talents.
"I think some pretty important things for the club happened kind of by chance and I got caught off guard a little bit by it and it kind of hit me" Union Head Coach Jim Curtin said. "Six to seven guys, 16-year-old kids, that are out there for us and doing a great job, not just being on the field, but impacting the game. Then you fast-forward to our game tonight and the performances of some of the young guys in a hard spot in a hard game. Auston Trusty and Anthony Fontana who comes in and looks experienced in the short time that he gets the opportunity to play. When Earnie Stewart talks about what we envision, this is a very positive night in a lot of ways. To having young kids coming up and making our decisions tough on the field, the success of Bethlehem Steel and how it has grown, I think it is always good to step back occasionally because we do get caught up because 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 the fanbase can be very proud of, and the Union badge is growing."