CHESTER, Pa. (September 28, 2019) – Bethlehem Steel FC (8-15-6, 13th place in East) had a rough night against a Tampa Bay Rowdies team and Malik Johnson, who had one of their best matches all year, defeating the Steel 6-1. The Boys in Blue now travel to take on Memphis 901 FC (8-14-7, 12th place in East) at AutoZone Park tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET. 901 FC sits just one point ahead of the Steel in the Eastern Conference standings, so this match is set to have major USL Championship Playoff implications as both sides continue their hunt for a spot in the postseason.
Simply put, the Steel ran into a buzz saw of a Rowdies side that was looking to make a statement in the league and a 6-1 score line should have done it. Looking to move forward and continue the final stretch of its regular-season schedule, Steel FC is poised to take on a Memphis 901 FC team that is 4-2-0 in its last six matches. Memphis lost their first in five 1-0 in a mid-week match against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, but chose to rest a large portion of their starters and focus on the matchup with the Steel this weekend. Over their run of four unbeaten, 901 FC took down Atlanta United 2, Swope Park Rangers, Loudoun United FC and Saint Louis FC and averaged only one goal against across that span. The Tennessee side is hitting their stride at the right point in the season.
The Boys in Blue fell 1-0 at Talen Energy Stadium the last time they squared off with Memphis 901 FC. Memphis’ Rashawn Dally was lone man on the score sheet that night as the visitors held the Steel scoreless in the inaugural match between the sides. A lot has changed for both sides since late March, including 901 FC’s addition of former Steel FC forward Brandon Allen. The 2019 expansion club has also added former Philadelphia Union midfielder Marcus Epps on loan from New York Red Bulls. Allen has added six goals for Memphis since joining the side, while Epps has already punished the Steel once with an assist while playing for New York Red Bulls II (July 10). This is a must-win for both Steel FC and 901 FC. Survival in the chase for the playoffs is on the line for both sides. A loss may not eliminate either side, but it puts the winner in a much better position. This is going to be a fist fight.
The Boys in Blue travel to take on Memphis 901 FC at AutoZone Park on Saturday, September 28, at 8:00 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+.
2019 USL Championship Regular Season
Date: September 28, 2019
Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: AutoZone Park, Memphis, Tenn.
Referee: Alejandro Mariscal
Assistant Referees: Trent van Haitsma; Kyle Johnston
Fourth Official: Ronald Ware
Bethlehem Steel FC: 8-15-6, 13th place
Memphis 901 FC: 8-14-7, 12th place