Bethlehem Steel FC continues with busy September slate with its second of a quick three-match week at home when the squad faces fourth-placed Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday, September 27. 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.
Wednesday’s match was originally scheduled to take place on September 9 but was rescheduled due to the path of Hurricane Irma that impacted the Tampa Bay and south Florida region. The schedule now sets up for de-facto two-leg competition between the two clubs, as Steel FC will travel to Tampa Bay for match on Saturday, September 30 at Al Lang Stadium.
Bethlehem Steel FC is coming off a strong 3-2 victory over in-state rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds over the weekend. Steel FC jumped out to its quickest two-goal lead in club history with goals from Adam Najem and Cory Burke in the first eight minutes of the match. Burke collected a brace later in the half to claim the club’s single-season scoring mark. Pittsburgh battled back with a pair of goals from forward Corey Hertzog but the Steel FC defense grinded out the crucial three points at home.
“It was a complete performance and I’m really happy with how we played in the first half,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “There was some sloppy decision but outside of those couple of moments I thought we were excellent. I’m really happy with the energy level in the first half, the style of play and the pattern of play. We gutted it out in the second half and sometimes that’s what pro soccer is all about.”
Steel FC enters the midweek tilt in the eighth and final playoff spot in the USL Eastern Conference, tied on points with defending USL Champions, New York Red Bulls II. Steel FC still holds two games in hand against the clubs surrounding them in the table as it heads into the first of two matches against Tampa Bay.
The Rowdies enter Wednesday’s match having won their previous two matches. Prior to the winning streak, Tampa Bay had claimed only one point in their previous three. Tampa Bay currently sits in fourth place, the final spot to host an opening round playoff match, after picking up a 1-0 victory over the Charlotte Independence. While Tampa has picked up an impressive 12 wins this season, they have struggled away from Al Lang Stadium with a 2-6-5 road record. In their previous five road matches, the club has brought home only four points. While the wins haven’t gone Tampa Bay’s way, their scoring has been strong in the contest despite being outscored by a 13-9 margin.