A newcomer to the USL Cup Playoffs and one of the youngest teams in the league, Bethlehem Steel FC is turning to it’s veterans as the club prepares to face off against Eastern Conference Champions Louisville City FC.
When Steel FC travels to Kentucky for the Friday night showdown, one player that knows the most about the league’s playoffs is defender Hugh Roberts, who will be making his fourth consecutive trip to the postseason.
“The playoffs are a completely different animal,” Roberts said. “I’ve been there for four years in a row and the environment and intensity is difficult to explain. Everyone gets the butterflies in their stomaches before theses games because it might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. In soccer, any team can beat anyone on a given day.”
The matchup with Louisville City FC is a déjà vu for Roberts, who faced off against the club last season in the playoffs as a member of the Richmond Kickers. While the Kickers were unable to knock off the hosts inside Louisville Slugger Field, the experience is an extra piece of intel to pass along as the team prepares.
“Louisville provides a unique atmosphere,” Roberts said. “Playing in front of 12,000 fans is intense and last season we had a red card go against us in the opening minutes so it changed our approach. However, we were able to force double overtime and was what the USL Cup Playoffs are all about. Getting to go back there, I know what it will be like and what to expect and I look forward to my role of sharing my experiences with the team this week as we prepare for Friday.”
While Roberts has the postseason experience, he admits that nerves are just part of matchup.
“Guys are going to be nervous before kickoff but once the clock starts going, we’re going to have to play our game and rely on what got us here in the first place. We made the playoffs playing our style and it’s what caused Louisville trouble when we visited a month ago. We had a pair of leads and are looking forward to getting a chance to play them, it will be a different situation since it’ll be the playoffs but we’re looking forward to it.”
Steel FC will make its first USL Cup Playoff appearance on Friday, Oct. 20. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 and will be streamed on the club’s website.