Bethlehem Steel FC continues September with its third match in six days when it travels south for its first visit to the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, September 30. Kickoff from Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and fans can watch the match both YouTube and on the club’s website.
This weekend’s match will be the second meeting between the two clubs in four days, with Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University having seen a 2-2 draw on Wednesday afternoon. In the hot and humid match that tests both squad’s stamina, Steel FC battled back to overcome a pair of lone-goal deficits to force a draw. After Tampa Bay gained the early lead on a Georgi Hristov penalty kick in the first half, Steel FC answered in the opening minute of the second half as Cory Burke scored his sixth goal in the last five matches. The Rowdies regained the lead in the 55th minute on a free kick goal from defender Hunter Gorskie but substitute Seku Conneh found another equalizer just eight minutes after coming onto the field for the match’s final goal.
“The turnaround will be tough for both teams and we have some depth as well so we’ll have to call on some guys that haven’t played in a few weeks but have won games for us on the road,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said after Wednesday’s match. “We trust our depth and trust the guys that are going to have to step in, even in different positions. We’ll talk about how we approach the game but we expect to go in and try and get something out of it. Playing three games in six days is never easy.”
Steel FC enters the match riding a four-match unbeaten streak that has seen the club rise into seventh place in the USL’s Eastern Conference. On the other side, Tampa Bay sits in fourth position, the final spot to host an opening round playoff match, and can clinch their spot in the playoffs with a victory over Bethlehem this weekend.
Both clubs will be without important players due to yellow card accumulation earned in Wednesday’s contest. Steel FC defender Auston Trusty will serve an automatic one-game suspension while Tampa Bay will be without the services of the club’s all-time leading scorer in Hristov.