Every franchise has a player that best represents the identity of the club. For Bethlehem Steel FC, that player is captain James Chambers. After the team announced last week that the veteran midfielder would be back for a fourth season, Chambers spoke on Tuesday about what it’s like to be back and preparing for another season.
“I’ve found a role for myself and the club has found a role for me and welcomed me to fill a spot and I’m quite good at it,” Chambers said. “That’s flattering in itself to be given this opportunity and to be lucky enough and playing in a fantastic organization. The organization has been really good to me and I want to repay them. I do see myself finishing out my career here.”
After leading the team to back-to-back postseason appearances in the USL Championship and the organization’s first playoff win, Chambers was adamant that the standards of Steel FC won’t change under his watch despite the move to make the club younger.
“We want to maintain those standards, we don’t want to fall below them because we are building younger players,” Chambers said. “I don’t think my role will change too much, it will just be that I’ll be with younger players. Before I was dealing with players who were coming out of college and had games under their belts and needed to adjust to the professional level; now that message is to get through to younger players, the quicker that these guys get acclimated to their surroundings in the USL, they will stand a far better chance of progressing to the first team which is ultimately what everyone wants.”
Things will be different in 2019 for the captain, as Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner implements his own changes to the organization which includes even more emphasis on youth development, along with a methodology designed to produce dynamic, compact and transition-oriented soccer. These new concepts be implemented while Chambers seeks to build chemistry with the new players in the squad.
“We only have four returning players from last year’s team so you will have eight contracted players on the roster, so a lot of chemistry building will be needed,” Chambers said. “Plus there is a new style of play that we all need to learn so it’s important that we get a good five or six weeks under our belts. The biggest thing is to get the players understanding what we are about and the expectations and standards that we have set over the last three years for the group.”
With the captain leading the way, the 2019 edition of Bethlehem Steel FC will learn them quite quickly.