#SteelGoesGold In Return Home Against Toronto FC II
Steel FC hosts Canadian side looking to keep playoff position
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (September 21, 2018) – After starting off September with two difficult contests against in-state rivals, Bethlehem Steel FC looks to rebound and stay above the Eastern Conference playoff line as it hosts Toronto FC II on Saturday, September 22. Kick off from Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Service Electric and ESPN+.
Saturday’s match will have greater meanings than the USL Cup Playoffs, as the match will be the club’s annual Go Gold match benefitting the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley. Fans will have numerous ways to aid the battle against pediatric cancer with five percent of all merchandise purchases going to PCFLV along with all the proceeds of the club’s online warmup auction that will last until the 70th minute of action. Tickets for the contest can be purchased here with $5 going to PCFLV through the special ticket package.
On the pitch, Steel FC sits in sixth place with just four matches remaining in the regular season. The club enters the weekend one point clear of line and three points clear of ninth-placed Nashville SC and North Carolina FC but both sides have two games in hand.
Steel FC is coming off back-to-back losses against Penn FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds but had a bye week to recover and recharge ahead of a final playoff push.
“It was good to have a bye week and I’m glad that we were able to get a really high-quality game in over the weekend,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “We really pushed the envelope in terms of fitness in training sessions the last two weeks on specific days so that we can make sure that we dictate the terms of these last four games.”
Steel FC has taken a victory in four of the previous six contests amongst the battle of affiliates, including a current four-match winning streak. Steel FC will go for the sweep after knocking off Toronto FC II by a 2-0 margin in Rochester, New York, back on Aug. 16. After a scoreless first half, Michee Ngalina and Aidan Apodaca broke through in the final half to lift Steel FC to three points.
While Toronto FC II sits in last place in the Eastern Conference, their record is deceiving as the club has erupted for 16 goals since last playing Steel FC. During the stretch, the side has taken down second-placed Louisville City FC on the road, drawn against New York Red Bulls II and most recently felling a thrilling 4-3 battle to first-placed FC Cincinnati. Sparking the Toronto FC II offense has been midfielder Tsubasa Endoh, having scored half of the team’s goals including a long-distance hat trick against Cincinnati that earned him USL Player of the Week.
“I think their mentality has shifted, they are just going for it,” Burke said of Toronto’s recent form. “They are throwing caution to the wind and have been involved in some shootouts. If you are not hyper-alert defensively in all phases of the field and game, transition and when we are defending high up the field. If we are not alert and switched on, they can hurt you and they showed Louisville that in a big, bad way, they showed Cincinnati that, showed New York that and have taken points from teams. These are points that we can’t allow anyone to take from our home field if we want to have a realistic shot at the playoffs.”
2018 USL Regular Season
Date: September 22, 2018
Kickoff: 3 p.m.
Location: Goodman Stadium, Bethlehem, PA.
Bethlehem Steel FC: 12-12-6
Toronto FC II: 3-21-4