Bethlehem Steel FC Begins Home Stand Against Newcomer Nashville SC
Steel FC looks to continue strong home form against a new foe
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (March 30, 2018) – Bethlehem Steel FC kicks off a season-long three-game home stand this weekend when the welcomes USL-newcomer Nashville SC on Saturday, March 31. Kick off from Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University is set for 2 p.m. and will be streamed on YouTube and on the club’s website along with locally on Service Electric.
Steel FC returns home looking to regain momentum for the early part of the season after a 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay in the club’s road debut at the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The first half saw Philadelphia Union goalkeeper John McCarthy tally a club record seven first-half saves to keep the match scoreless in the opening 45 minutes. The hosts then found goals from Georgi Hristov and Leo Fernandes in a six-minute span to earn the three points.
“I was impressed with Tampa,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “We tried to prepare the guys for how clean the game would be from a technical standpoint because of their quality in most positions and they even exceeded expectations when we thought we did a decent job of getting to the right spaces to put them under pressure. They were well prepared and were up for the game, it felt like a home opener of a top team. It was a great game for us to get right off the bat as a measuring stick on the road, games are not going to get much more difficult than that but we also came nowhere near meeting the challenge. I think it gives us some real perspective after we started so well at home the week before against a different challenge.”
A return to Goodman Stadium could be what Bethlehem Steel FC needs, as the club has claimed points in five of its last six home matches dating back to last season. While Saturday’s match will be the first meeting between the two sides, Steel FC did well against the Eastern Conference newcomers in 2017. Last year, the club was unbeaten in debut matches against a new opponent, picking up three points against Ottawa and Saint Louis while battling the Rowdies to a draw.
Under the direction of head coach Gary Smith, Nashville is still in search for the club’s first victory and first goal in club history. The squad debuted on the road with a 2-0 defeat to Louisville City FC before battling the Pittsburgh Riverhounds to a scoreless draw at Nissan Stadium last weekend.
"I think that it is whoever connects with their game plan,” Burke said. “They’ve played two games and from a formational standpoint, they are very different than us. They play five in the back or three in the back, however, you want to look at it, and it ends up shaking out like a 3-4-3 at times with [Lebo] Moloto staying connected to the two forwards. They have a number of big forwards to choose from but whether it’s [Tucker] Hume or [Robin] Shroot, there are a number of options. It is a different formation from what we play so it looks like their wing backs are getting forward, those are actually wingbacks and not outsides. Minor but it will make a big difference in terms of how the game is played tactically.”