CHESTER, Pa. (March 29, 2019) – Bethlehem Steel FC will host Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the club’s final match of a three-match home stand. The match will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 30 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. The match will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Steel FC comes into this match following a 1-0 loss in the club’s second home match of the 2019 USL Championship regular season to Memphis 901 FC this past Sunday. Memphis got the better of the Steel, who saw forward Faris and midfielder Michee Ngalina earn their first minutes of the season in the match. Philadelphia Union defenders Mark McKenzie and Olivier Mbaizo saw their first Steel FC minutes of the year as well, with Union goalkeeper Matt Freese in goal for the second time in 2019. Steel FC also brought on Philadelphia Union Academy players Patrick Bohui and Shanyder Borgelin as second-half substitutes. The Steel missed out on points for the second week in a row, despite having played a good game. Things won’t get any easier for the Steel this weekend, who face their toughest defensive test in Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.
"I’d say last weekend was an opportunity missed for us. We were on top of the game in most aspects of it. The more you watch it back, the more you rue the missed chance to grab three points there, but credit to Memphis,” said Steel Head Coach Brendan Burke in his conference call with media this week. “This weekend that becomes even more difficult with an even more experienced, bigger, more physical team in Pittsburgh, who put on a great performance against a really strong Swope [Park Rangers] lineup last weekend with a lot of [Sporting] KC players involved and a lot of experience. We know what we’re up against and we’re preparing the same way we would in any other week, but we understand that there’s a little extra riding on it with neither of us having a good start to the season so far."
Steel FC and the Riverhounds have met nine times previously in the regular season, with the Steel holding a record of 2-4-3 across those meetings. The two Pennsylvania clubs also faced off in their only post-season match last year in the First Round of the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs. Steel FC advanced 8-7 via a penalty-kick shootout that followed the 2-2 draw. Both clubs know each other well and the Steel know that it will be a physical match and will test their younger more inexperienced players. Pittsburgh currently sits on a 0-1-1 record, despite having played well in their previous two matches. The Riverhounds have a goal differential of -2 coming into the match and lead the league last year in shutouts (17).
"Nothing different than what they’ve shown in the first two games,” stated Burke. “I think Tampa [Bay Rowdies], maybe they didn’t deserve points, Swope [Park Rangers] they’d be disappointed not to come away from that game with points. I’ve watched it back a couple of times now and I think they put on a really solid performance. They just had two or three moments towards the end of the game where things broke down for them, but I know how much they focus on the defensive side of the ball and their team shape. There will be nothing easy about this game this weekend at all."
Bethlehem Steel FC knows that not only is Pittsburgh a very physical team, but they are a team that has plenty of height on the pitch and lives in the air. Set pieces are a key aspect of the Riverhounds’ style of play and the height of their players, like defender Joe Greenspan at 6’6”, plays a key role in that. With that in mind, Burke’s squad will need to avoid giving up set pieces and allowing service into the box.
"You can’t counter it, but you do have to prepare for set pieces and things like that. You saw them score from a set piece [this year],” Burke noted when asked how to counter Pittsburgh’s set pieces. “They don’t get enough credit for the service that comes from some of their more experienced midfield players like [midfielders Kevin] Kerr and [Kenardo] Forbes. They are two of the best in the entire league at delivering balls that can be attacked in dangerous areas, so keeping ourselves out of those situations entirely is more important."
Bethlehem Steel FC hosts Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tickets are available here.
2019 USL Championship Regular Season
Date: March 30, 2019
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, Pa.
Bethlehem Steel FC: 1-2-0
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: 0-1-1