After knocking off a pair of Canadian foes to craft a two-match winning streak, Bethlehem Steel FC will look to continue its winning ways when it travels to first place Charlotte Independence on Wednesday, August 16. The match is featured as the USL Game of the Week and will be streamed exclusively on the WatchESPN app and website. Kickoff from the Sportsplex at Matthews is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Steel FC enters the contest in the midst of its busiest stretch of the season, with the Wednesday matchup being the second of three games in a seven-day span. The stretch began on winning foot, with the club defending home turf with a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC II on Sunday. After a scoreless first half, the clubs combed for four goals in the final 31 minutes. Jamaican international Cory Burke sprung Steel FC ahead midway through the second half for his third goal of the season. While Toronto FC II converted a penalty kick in the 72nd minute, Steel FC fought back with goals from James Chambers via penalty kick and Chris Nanco in stoppage time to claim all three points.
“It was important that we get all three points after the performance in Ottawa last week,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “The fact that Toronto [FC II] came in near the bottom of the table, I made sure that we talk about that all week because they had just beaten two of the top three teams in the league and that was all we talked about this week. Really happy with how intent we were on taking the game to them. [Toronto FC II head coach Jason Bent] does a really good job with a young team. We are in very similar positions and that is a good [win] for us.”
The midweek matchup allows Steel FC a chance at revenge, having fallen to Charlotte, 4-0, only three weeks ago at Goodman Stadium. The Independence was led by Lewis Hilton’s brace while Jorge Herrera and Alex Martinez added to the score line. The match was the first time in the all-time series that Charlotte had downed Steel FC, with the record now even at 1-1-1. Last season, Steel FC were victorious in Charlotte, scoring in the 11th minute on a Cory Burke goal. Steel FC will have to lean on forwards Seku Conneh, Santi Moar and Chris Nanco for the offense as Burke will serve a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.
Charlotte enters the match after seeing its 12-game unbeaten streak come to a close on the road at Ottawa Fury last weekend at TD Place Stadium. Midfielder David Spies provided the lone goal for the Independence, as Ottawa scored the second-most goals against the club in 2017. Charlotte will look to rebound with the help of their stars Enzo Martinez and veteran Jorge Herrera, with the duo tied with 12 goals and five assists a piece.