After playing in its busiest stretch of the season last week, Bethlehem Steel FC begins a two-match road trip to cap off the month of August, starting with in-state rival Pittsburgh on Saturday, August 26. Kickoff from Highmark Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. and fans can watch the match both YouTube and on the club’s website.
Steel FC enters the match sitting in seventh place in the USL Eastern Conference after picking up three points during the three-game in seven day span. During the stretch, the club faced off against the top two clubs in the East, falling to Charlotte, 1-0, and to Louisville last Sunday, 3-1. In the home match against Louisville, set pieces proved critical as three of the goals occurred. Luke Spencer pushed Louisville to the victory, netting a first-half brace. Steel FC fought back with a set piece goal from Philadelphia Union defender Richie Marquez late in the opening frame, scoring on a free kick started by Aaron Jones. With Steel FC knocking on the door of an equalizer, Louisville found an insurance goal off the head of substitute Cameron Lancaster.
“We are in a good place because we know that we are capable of beating anyone in the league on any given day,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “We haven’t really shown that yet against the top four teams with results but we’ve been good to get results against the teams around us. Pittsburgh and Orlando present us with two games that we really have to focus on and get some sort of result out of one or both on the road.”
The Saturday night affair will be the fifth all-time meeting between the two Keystone clubs, with the series knotted at 1-1-2. After Steel FC took the first match of the series last July, 2-0, the squads have battled to 1-1 draws in each of the past two matches, including earlier this season. Meeting last July at Goodman Stadium, Steel FC showed its gritty mentality as the club rallied from a first half goal by Pittsburgh’s Chevaugh Walsh with their own just three minutes later. Captain James Chambers slotted home a penalty kick for the equalizer, as Steel FC played without any loanees from the club’s MLS affiliate, Philadelphia Union.
“They’ll be relatively predictable in terms of their lineup and approach to the game which is great but they also have veterans all over the field that can make you pay,” Burke said. “I have a tone of respect for the talent level that they’ve assembled out there. I think they are a strong group and an underrated group and going there will be a challenge.”
Pittsburgh enters this weekend’s match coming off a 3-1 victory over Saint Louis FC. Leading scorer Cory Hertzog notched a brace in the win, keeping the club within striking range of a playoff position. The Riverhounds find themselves in 10th position in the table, but only three points behind Steel FC. While the club picked up the win, it was announced this week that starting goalkeeper Trey Mitchell suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Stepping into net for his first start will be former Steel FC keeper, Matthew Perrella. The East Brunswick, N.J., native made four appearances for Steel FC last season.