Bethlehem Steel FC begins a three-match in six-day stretch this weekend when the club hosts Keystone rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday, September 24, with playoff implications looming on with a result for either squad. Kickoff from Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University is scheduled for 3 p.m. and fans can watch the match both YouTube and on the club’s website.
Sunday’s match will have greater meanings than the USL playoffs, as the match will be the club’s Go Gold match benefitting the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley. Steel FC players will wear special gold warmups before kickoff and be joined by the coaching staff with special gold armbands during the match against Pittsburgh. While the two clubs battle, all warmups and armbands will be sold via a silent auction conducted on the concourse at the PCFLV tent. All items will be signed by the player with 100% of the proceeds going to PCFLV. Fans can bid starting at 2 p.m. when the gates open through the 70th minute of action and both cash and card payments will be accepted.
On the pitch, both clubs enter tied on points and just one point below the Eastern Conference playoff line. According to the USL, a victory against the Riverhounds would raise Steel FC’s playoff chances to 86 percent. The match will be the series third and final matches of 2017, with Pittsburgh holding a 1-0-1 advantage after a 3-2 win in front of their home crowd on August 26.
Steel FC enters the match coming off a strong performance at conference leaders Louisville City FC. Having not played in over two weeks, Steel FC came out aggressive at on the road and jumped to a first-half lead behind Cory Burke’s sixth goal of the season, as the 25-year-old converted from the penalty spot. After Louisville equalized with their own penalty kick goal, Santi Moar gave Steel FC it’s second lead of the night, as he slotted home the rebound off a saved Burke shot. The goal was the forward’s fourth goal of his rookie campaign. An Oscar Jimenez free kick goal late in the second half helped Louisville City fight to escape with a 2-2 draw in front of their supporters.
“Happy to get a result at Louisville, it’s a difficult place to play for a number of reasons because they have a good crowd and a difficult field and I think that affected Jake [McGuire] a little bit but in terms of the team’s performance, there was a lot of energy,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “We’ve gone on the road against two playoff teams in Orlando and Louisville and performed and gotten draws. Probably both should have been wins but we got draws in both of those games and I’m happy with that and I do consider that momentum coming back home for two games.”
Pittsburgh has been winless since playing Steel FC in late August, posting a 0-1-2 record this month. The Riverhounds enter this weekend’s tilt coming off a 1-1 draw against Rochester. After Kevin Kerr netted the first tally of the match in the 71st minute, the Hounds looked well on their way to their first win of September only to have the party spoiled in the 90th minute off a pinpoint header from Rochester’s Joe Farrell.