Bethlehem Steel FC Heads To Rochester For Showdown With Toronto FC II
Club looks to set the pace for USL Cup Playoff line
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (August 15, 2018) – Bethlehem Steel FC will look to continue its strong run of form as it heads north for a neutral site contest against Toronto FC II. Kick off from Marina Auto Stadium in Rochester, New York, is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Having won three of their last four contests, Steel FC is coming off a 2-1 loss at home to in-state rivals Pittsburgh. After a first-half goal from Neco Brett, Santi Moar and Chris Nanco combined for the tying goal early in the second half. Nanco notched his third goal of 2018 while Moar tied the franchise’s single-season assist record with his eighth assist. Jake McGuire made five saves in the contest and for his effort was named to the USL Team of the Week.
“I think we expected a lot of ourselves and we knew it was a big opportunity but we just didn’t have the juice in our legs that were needed to play the way we wanted to play and accomplish what we were hoping to accomplish on that day,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “Really proud of the fact that we dug in and got ourselves back into the game and sorry that it broke down the way it did. Ultimately, we still are where we need to be. These next couple games become critical for us because teams around us have a couple games in hand and we have to keep them in a position where they are chasing us and putting more pressure on them with each week that passes. Overall, we’ve won three of our last four games and we’ve put ourselves in the hunt and in the driver’s seat in a lot of ways but now we need to put our foot down.”
Thursday’s contest will be the first match in Steel FC history played at a neutral site but the sixth overall match against Toronto FC II. Steel FC owns a slight 3-2-0 edge in the all-time series but picked up a three-game sweep last season. Playing late in the 2017 season, Moar set the pace with a franchise-record brace in three minutes as Steel FC went to Canada and came back with a 4-2 result.
“We’re looking at it as their home game,” Burke said on the neutral site match. “We have to travel five and a half hours to get there, I don’t think it’s quite as bad for them. It’s on turf which they play on a lot more frequently than we do. In a lot of ways, this is still their home game.”
Despite sitting at the bottom of the table in the Eastern Conference, Toronto FC II come in playing their best soccer of 2018. After going winless in the club’s first 18 contests, Toronto FC II has won two of their last three contests. Under the direction of first-year head coach Michael Rabasca, the USL-affiliate of defending MLS Champions Toronto FC, Ayo Akinola leads the offense with four goals while goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell has allowed just one goal in his last three starts.
“They’ve won two of their last three games and one of them was against Nashville,” Burke said. “They only narrowly lost 1-0 to Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh in between there. They definitely are a dangerous team, a team that has turned the corner in terms of their mentality and in terms of their ability to keep games tight. We are well aware that we are up for a massive battle. Any road game is but especially a team with a belief, they present an entirely different challenge than how they were five or six weeks ago.”