Pittsburgh Riverhounds Torpedo Bethlehem Steel FC’s Sinking Playoff Aspirations

A well-worked one-two at the edge of the area that was finished off with aplomb shortly after the hour had passed provided a fitting enough ending for a closely contested intra-state derby as the underdog Pittsburgh Riverhounds downed visiting Bethlehem Steel FC 2-1 in always exciting United Soccer League action on Saturday evening.

Bethlehem Steel FC, whose winless stretch during this ‘playoff push’ has now reached five consecutive matches, fielded no less than five players under Major League Soccer contract to the Philadelphia Union in its starting line-up, including the recently signed and newly-turned 18-year-old centerback Auston Trusty. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds, for their part, featured two MLS players on loan from the Columbus Crew, the recently signed goalkeeper Zack Steffen and Costa Rica international striker Alejandro Aguilar in their first team. What’s more, the Riverhounds also brought three more players under MLS contract to Columbus off the bench as second half substitutes including the attacking pair of Panama international winger Cristian Martinez and Guatemala international striker Rodrigo Saravia — this was in sharp contrast to the USL match between BSFC and Pittsburgh back at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium played a month ago in which the Riverhounds sent out just one MLS player on loan and a defender at that.

Not quite sure why Seku Conneh, the 20-year-old Liberia international striker who has made 16 USL appearances and scored two goals for Bethlehem Steel FC this season, did not even make the trip to Pittsburgh – perhaps the former Dutch second division player is injured.

Not quite sure what all the fuss was about a few weeks ago when the Philadelphia Union passed on the opportunity to add the German soccer reject Steffen to the roster of its new United Soccer League reserve team. That goal conceded to Bethlehem Steel FC’s Jamaica international striker Corey Burke in the 28th minute was a rather soft one, indeed — relatively sharp-angle shot from over on the goalkeeper’s right hand side, beaten to the near post; perhaps out of match practice, Steffen appeared to just flap at the ball as it flew past. People who take the time to watch the footage of BSFC’s goal against Pittsburgh on YouTube will soon realize exactly why the former of University of Maryland goalkeeper never made more than fourteen appearances in the Regionalliga Suedwest (fourth division) in a season and a half before being deemed expendable by reserve team side SC Freiburg II.

Man of the Match honors must go to Corey Hertzog, the former Penn State Nittany Lions’ Torjaeger with a dozen Major League Soccer appearances for New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps FC under his belt who scored the Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ opening goal against Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday evening and assisted on the game-winner, as well.

As far as the playoff picture in the United Soccer League’s Eastern Conference goes, Bethlehem Steel FC are still not dead yet but they have been downgraded from critical condition and are, in fact, on life support at present.

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Bethlehem Steel FC centerback Auston Trusty (# 48), the Philadelphia Union Academy graduate who will not be playing collegiate soccer for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels after all, can do nothing but observe as Pittsburgh Riverhounds winger Kevin Kerr (# 10) slots past BSFC netminder Samir Badr to net the game-winning goal in the United Soccer League match at picturesque Highmark Stadium on the banks of the Monongahela River.
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Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2:1 Bethlehem Steel FC

August 13, 2016
Highmark Stadium – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Attendance – not reported

Bethlehem Steel FC : Badr – Washington (Brown 78), Trusty, Anderson, Richter – Akinyode, Chambers – Heard (Luchini 65), Fernandes (Gissie 87), Ayuk – Burke (McMaster 79)

unused subs : (no backup goalkeeper) – Bibbs, Fontana

Pittsburgh Riverhounds : Steffen – Hunt, Adeleye (Hollingsworth 58), Campbell, Green – Earls, Okai (Boggs 78) – Kerr, Hertzog, Moloto (Martinez 46) – Aguilar (Thompson 46, Savaria 65)

goals : Hertzog 18, Burke 28, Kerr 62

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Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs Bethlehem Steel FC
Attempts At Goal chart

12th min …. BSFC – Heard shot over
18th min …. PITT – Hertzog GOAL
22nd min … PITT – Hertzog shot saved
28th min …. BSFC – Fernandes shot blocked
28th min …. BSFC – Burke GOAL
34th min …. PITT – Aguilar header wide
40th min …. PITT – Aguilar shot saved
42nd min …. BSFC – Chambers shot saved
44th min ….. BSFC – Fernandes shot saved
45th min ….. PITT – Moloto shot saved
47th min ….. PITT – Hertzog shot over
59th min ….. BSFC – Burke header over
61st min …… BSFC – Akinyode shot saved
62nd min …. PITT – Kerr GOAL
75th min ….. BSFC – Richter shot blocked
81st min …… PITT – Boggs shot saved
86th min ….. PITT – Saravia shot saved
88th min ….. PITT – Martinez shot saved
89th min ….. BSFC – Luchini shot saved
95th min ….. BSFC – Brown shot wide
96th min ….. PITT – Saravia shot wide

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And A USL Playoff Chase Runs Through It

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And so the Bethlehem Steel FC team bus shall come to pass through the western Pennsylvania city metropolis where the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers all converge on a perilous playoff chase fraught with danger at every turn — much of which, of course, results from there being a lack of proper centerbacks on board. It is there, at Station Square on the city’s South Side, that unflappable BSFC head coach Brendan Burke and his players will disembark at picturesque Highmark Stadium and prepare to meet the difficult United Soccer League challenge ahead, as always. Meanwhile, very much like a squadron of predatory attack submarines hidden somewhere beneath the surface waters, lying in wait will be the underdog Pittsburgh Riverhounds, the low-scoring side now led by former Navy head coach Dave Brandt which will surely be looking to torpedo BSFC’s dwindling playoff chances at its earliest convenience.

The Riverhounds have netted 21 goals in exactly as many United Soccer League matches this season, a figure which puts punchless Pittsburgh second from bottom in the 14-team Eastern Conference, just above hapless FC Montreal but only just below none other than the Philadelphia Union’s fledgling farm club :

20 goals … 22 games … 0.909 avg ……. FC Montreal
21 goals …. 21 games … 1.000 avg ……. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
25 goals … 22 games … 1.136 avg ……… Bethlehem Steel FC
28 goals … 24 games … 1.167 avg ……… Harrisburg City Islanders
26 goals … 22 games … 1.182 avg ……… Richmond Kickers
25 goals … 21 games …. 1.190 avg ……… Wilmington Hammerheads

Despite the fact that the Riverhounds have one of the the worst defensive records in the Eastern Conference this season, one should not be shocked to see host Pittsburgh attempt to play some Rope-A-Dope Soccer with Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday night and for good reason, as well. The USL’s bus parkers have long since discovered that BSFC are particularly vulnerable to lightning counterattack after first being invited to come forward. Although the BSFC head coach Burke acknowledged this very fact some time ago and stated that the team have been working to address this particular weakness, the bottom line is that opponents will continue use such ‘negative’ tactics until the Philadelphia Union’s reserve team proves it can stop them.

Speaking of rather slow and extremely susceptible to counterattacking soccer, word on the street via Tim Jones of “Philly Soccer Page” via e-mail from the Major League Soccer club’s communication department is that Brazilian centerback Anderson Conceicao is actually one of the five MLS players whom the Philadelphia Union have loaned to Bethlehem Steel FC for action in the United Soccer League this weekend. Apparently, so too is the newly signed Union defender Auston Trusty — which raises obvious and immediate questions about why midfielder Derrick Jones was reportedly banned from playing for BSFC in a USL match against Toronto FC II a couple of weeks ago all over again. Cameroon U-20 international winger Eric Ayuk can also be expected to be in BSFC’s line-up and the Bafoussam Bomber’s presence could easily be bad news for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Speaking of Jones, the 19-year-old native of Ghana who is the second-leading scorer for Bethlehem Steel FC this season having notched four goals and three assists in 19 United Soccer League matches, it would appear as if the recent injury to Philadelphia Union veteran midfielder Brian Carroll will, indeed, be rendering the talented youngster unavailable to BSFC this weekend.

Samir Badr, the 24-year-old journeyman who conceded three goals in each of his last two starts in the USL this season (both of which, ironically enough, were against counterattacking Toronto FC II), will be in between the sticks for Bethlehem Steel FC against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds this Saturday evening. Badr has already made a total of eight starts for BSFC this term but only one of those appearances has come within the team’s last six matches so rust could be a bit of an issue. But in the unforgiving world of professional soccer, however, there is no margin for error at this point in the year and so hopefully Badr has brought his A game westward.

It should be interesting to see if Bethlehem Steel FC bring on winger Jamie Luchini as a second half substitute in the USL clash with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium. The now 22-year-old rookie out of Lehigh University was actually born in Pittsburgh and was a standout at North Allegheny High School before going on to play for the Mountain Hawks. It was also Luchini whose shot bounced harmlessly off the upper ninety the last time BSFC and the Riverhounds met at Goodman Stadium back on July 12th.

Meanwhile, it looks as if bumping into that Lenni Lenape medicine man walking right down Main Street in Bethlehem the other day has already paid immediate dividends as the news of nine-man Orlando City B getting pounded 5-1 by New York Red Bulls II on Friday night begins to make the rounds. This encouraging result provides an enormous opportunity for Bethlehem Steel FC to cut OCB’s lead in the race for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth down to just two points but never-say-die BSFC will have capitalize by finding a way to take full points from the Riverhounds in Pittsburgh first. Can Burke’s courageous troops live to fight another USL day or will Brandt’s marauding pirates sink BSFC’s playoff aspirations once and for all?

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Auston Trusty Signed By Philadelphia Union, Unavailable To Bare Bones Bethlehem Steel FC This Saturday

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Just three days after having an absolute nightmare on the Bethlehem Steel FC back line during the third tier United Soccer League match versus the Charlotte Independence at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium, teenage defender Auston Trusty was formally signed to a Major League Soccer contract by the slumping Philadelphia Union and put on parade at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester on Wednesday.

The Union, who have fallen to fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings on the heels of having just won just one of the last seven MLS matches, can not reasonably be expected to have Trusty in their 18-man squad this weekend but the timing of the transaction ensures that the still only 17-year-old centerback will not be eligible to play for Bethlehem Steel FC in their United Soccer League contest against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds this coming Saturday night because, as was learned when the Philadelphia Union recently signed midfielder Derrick Jones to a Major League Soccer contract, it takes at least a minimum of four days for all of MLS’s Mickey Mouse paperwork requirements to be fulfilled.

And so, yet again, it appears that Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke‘s squad is running low on proper centerbacks and will have to scramble to plug the hole as the USL away match in Pittsburgh beckons. BSFC currently lag five points behind fellow MLS reserve team Orlando City B in the chase for the eighth and final playoff spot available to the fourteen teams in the Eastern Conference. Furthermore, the window of opportunity is a narrow one, indeed, as BSFC only have eight USL games remaining to be played whereas in form OCB have nine.

Next man up, please!

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Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke on the subject of the Blitztor that the Charlotte Independence bagged less than fifteen seconds into the start of the second half of the United Soccer League contest this past Sunday :

“Yeah, that was a gift. That was a really poor play on our part … it was just a very simple mistake – something that you would never expect to happen in a game at this (professional) level.”

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Bethlehem Steel FC’s Scoreboard Watchers

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Front door, back door, take along a crowbar and pry open a window if you have to. Hell, take the damn crowbar and just ruthlessly smash the glass if it comes down to it, but don’t even think about what happens if the neighbors hear the noise or are watching you, though. Because the cops completely understand that when it comes to the playoff house, getting in at the end of the regular season is all that really matters, not necessarily how you went about doing it.

So, then, the good news for Bethlehem Steel FC is that, despite the extremely disappointing 2-2 result versus the visiting Charlotte Independence at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium this past Sunday, the bottom line is that their 2016 United Soccer League playoffs chances are not quite dead yet. And, to look on the much brighter side of life here in the Land of Philadelphia Union Player Development, streaking Orlando City B — who currently occupy the precious eighth place position in the Eastern Conference standings that BSFC ought to be desiring — have to contest seven of their remaining nine USL matches away from home. Plus, with any luck, whatever ‘playoff charge’ the parent Major League Soccer club are undertaking at present will be unmercifully cut to ribbons in very short order, thereby causing Orlando City SC to bring up all of the best players from its reserve side in order to get a proper head start on next term.

However, the bad news for BSFC head coach Brendan Burke‘s persevering charges is that, aside from a whole bunch of scoreboard watching, the fledgling Philadelphia Union farm club are going to have to actually do something that it, to be quite frank, simply has not been able to accomplish up to this point — put together an honest-to-goodness winning streak and pronto, as well. Now, the harsh reality of the situation at hand is the fact that, twenty-two matches into this 2016 United Soccer League campaign, the longest ‘winning streak’ for expansion Bethlehem Steel FC so far has been all of two games and not quite so irresistible BSFC has been able to manage this not quite so impressive feat all of one time. Still, the hour to boldly think big and bravely hope for the best has arrived in earnest, so here we go!

Forget about that injury which forced Philadelphia Union veteran defensive midfielder Brian Carroll to be taken off in the 45th minute of the Major League Soccer match versus host DC United at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital last Saturday night. The very same one that just might render the recently promoted Derrick Jones unavailable to Bethlehem Steel FC on account of the Union’s first team needs soon. Because, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt fully well knows, the only thing BSFC has to fear is a continuing run of results favorable to Orlando City B, itself.

Meanwhile, as far as any and all Bethlehem Steel FC supporters who would just so happen to believe in black magic and all that other supernatural stuff should be concerned, now would be the appropriate time to start sticking pins in voo doo dolls at every available opportunity. Be advised that Orlando City B’s official team colors are purple, gold & yellow and that a photograph depicting the side from central Florida’s home kit appears at the top of this blog article and can easily be enlarged for convenience. As far as OCB’s attire for its United Soccer League matches being played on the road goes, merely reverse the home kit but make the sleeves solid purple with white stripping.

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Bethlehem Steel FC & Charlotte Independence Conclude With Draw

Bethlehem Steel FC battled back heroically to earn a share of the spoils against the visiting Charlotte Independence in always exciting United Soccer League action before an energized crowd at Lehigh Unviersity’s Goodman Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

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Bethlehem Steel FC 2:2 Charlotte Independence

August 7th, 2016
Goodman Stadium – Saucon Valley, Pennsylvania
Attendance – 2,358

Bethlehem Steel FC : McCarthy – Washington, Trusty, Yaro, Richter – Akinyode (Heard 69), Jones (Fontana 82) – Fernandes, Chambers, Ayuk – Conneh (Burke 66)

unused subs : Badr – Bibbs, Gissie, Brown

Charlotte Independence : Berner – Slogic, Kalungi, Duckett, Johnson – Hilton (Clowes 78), Davidson – Estrada (Pfeffer 82), E. Martinez (Hassan 90), Brown (A. Martinez 78) – Calvert (Herrera 82)

goals – Conneh 22, E. Martinez 46, Davidson 62, Richter pen 88

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Bethlehem Steel FC vs Charlotte Independence
Attempts At Goal chart

7th min …… CHAR – Hilton shot blocked by defender
7th min …… CHAR – Estrada shot blocked by defender
10th min …. BSFC – Ayuk shot wide
13th min …. CHAR – Brown shot blocked by defender
16th min …. CHAR – E. Martinez header over
18th min …. CHAR – Estrada shot wide
19th min …. CHAR – Brown shot blocked by defender
22nd min … BSFC – Conneh GOAL
27th min …. BSFC – Chambers shot blocked by defender
31st min ….. BSFC – Richter shot wide
36th min …. CHAR – Brown shot wide
42nd min … BSFC – Akinyode shot wide
42nd min … CHAR – Brown shot saved
44th min …. CHAR – E. Martinez shot wide
inj time …… CHAR – Brown shot saved
inj time …… CHAR – Estrada shot blocked by defender
inj time …… CHAR – Brown shot saved
46th min …. CHAR – E. Martinez GOAL
49th min …. CHAR – Johnson shot saved
52nd min … BSFC – Fernandes shot wide
55th min …. CHAR – E. Martinez shot saved
55th min …. CHAR – Estrada shot blocked by defender
59th min …. BSFC – Richter shot wide
61st min ….. CHAR – Brown shot saved
61st min ….. CHAR – Davidson shot saved
62nd min … CHAR – Davidson GOAL
69th min …. BSFC – Richter shot deflected by defender
71st min …… CHAR – E. Martinez shot deflected by defender
72nd min …. BSFC – Burke header over
88th min ….. BSFC – Richter GOAL
91st min …… BSFC – Burke shot deflected by defender
92nd min …. CHAR – Hassan header wide
93rd min ….. CHAR – Johnson shot saved

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Backs To Wall, Bethlehem Steel FC Simply Need To Win On Sunday

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Given the dramatic result coming out of central Florida on Saturday night, the task at hand for fledgling Bethlehem Steel FC has just gotten all that much harder. Only moments after conceding a very late equalizer to Toronto FC II on home turf, streaking Orlando City B struck back for a game-winner in their United Soccer League match and, in doing so, increased their lead in the race for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot to six points with the number of remaining fixtures really starting to dwindle in earnest. The bottom line for BSFC head coach Brendan Burke‘s troops is that the Philadelphia Union’s new farm club simply have to win their critical USL contest versus the incoming Charlotte Independence on Sunday afternoon at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium just to stay within realistic striking range.

Now, as always, Bethlehem Steel FC will be heavily dependent upon their parent organization to thoroughly stock the USL squad. So, then, a quick look to see who might (read, should) be available for some reserve team action. The 18 players who were in uniform for the Philadelphia Union for the 2-2 draw with DC United in the MLS match at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital on Saturday evening were as follows :

Blake, *McCarthy – Fabinho, Marquez, Tribbett, Rosenberry, *Gaddis, *Yaro – Carroll, Barnetta, +Creavalle, Pontius, Herbers, Ilsinho, +Restrepo, *Alberg – Sapong, +Davies

+ substitute … * did not play

The Philadelphia Union players under Major League Soccer contract who are also listed on the Master Roster of Bethlehem Steel FC at the United Soccer League’s official website as of Saturday, August 6th, at 10:00 PM EST but not in uniform for the MLS match against DC United were :

M. Jones – Anderson, Washington – D. Jones, Ayuk, Missimo, Fernandes

Of course, it is very hard to say for sure which – if any – players will actually be loaned to Bethlehem Steel FC for this Sunday afternoon’s USL affair. English goalkeeper Matt Jones, the 30-year-old veteran on loan from Portuguese first division side CF Belenenses, has clearly been out of favor with the coaching staff pretty much all season long and has only made three appearances for BSFC (three goals conceded, two saves made) this term. “Philly Soccer Page” columnist Tim Jones reported as having attended a Philadelphia training session last Saturday on July 31st and noted that one of the Union’s two first team players who share his last name were not present on the pitch, which may help explain why Matt did not turn up for BSFC’s disappointing 3-2 loss to Toronto FC II at Goodman Stadium last Sunday.

John McCarthy, the 23-year-old goalkeeper from La Salle University who has made 10 starts for Bethlehem Steel FC this season but only two since the end of May, sat the bench for the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night. So it is not certain that the Union organization would have McCarthy hop aboard the BSFC bus leaving Chester on Sunday morning after having spent the previous evening in the nation’s capital. Union first choice Andre Blake does have two vital FIFA World Cup qualification matches to play for the Jamaica national team at the beginning of September and will be missing at least one Major League Soccer match as a result, though, so the time to get McCarthy a run of USL games before then would be now.

Taylor Washington, the Philadelphia Union’s second round pick (# 23 overall) at the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, has started all but three of Bethlehem Steel FC’s 21 United Soccer League matches this season at left back and will do so again on Sunday. Mostly because there is quite literally nobody else left on the USL squad to play in the center of defense, the Brazilian centerback Anderson Conceicao will also get on the BSFC bus bound for Goodman Stadium this Sunday. Whether or not Philadelphia Union Academy player Auston Trusty has returned from United States U-19 national team duty in Europe or has, perhaps, finally departed for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is uncertain at this time — it is very interesting to note that Trusty is listed on the Tar Heels’ 2016 roster and has been assigned the # 2 jersey, according to the official website run by the school’s athletic department.

Meanwhile, rookie centerback Josh Yaro has really only played a grand total of 180 minutes in the past month or so after starting just two of the Philadelphia Union’s last nine Major League Soccer matches. The second overall pick in the first round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft seems to have regressed somewhat since making his debut for the Union versus the Seattle Sounders back in mid-April. Yaro started Bethlehem Steel FC’s first three USL matches this term but has not appeared for BSFC since — might that youngster from Ghana be getting another reserve team assignment soon?

Apparently, the reason why Academy poster boy Derrick Jones could not play for Bethlehem Steel FC last Sunday after having been formally promoted to the Philadelphia Union first team earlier in the week was because that Major League Soccer paperwork has not been completed. If that is, in fact, the case, then somebody really needs to let MLS Commissioner Don Garber know that, in spite of how many hundreds of millions he may be charging for an expansion franchise nowadays, that sort of unnecessary bureaucratic roadblock is nothing but pure and unadulterated Mickey Mouse league garbage. BSFC certainly did not drop its United Soccer League match to visiting Toronto FC II simply because its leading scorer was banned from playing but that does not excuse anything – Jones was signed by the Union on a Wednesday, which left more than enough time to have everything straightened out by Sunday, end of story.

Tim Jones’ piece over at PSP raises an interesting question about why it was not possible for Eric Ayuk to play for Bethlehem Steel FC against Toronto FC II last Sunday. It is quite possible that the Bafoussam Bomber was suffering from a big of jet lag after having recently taken a plane ride to and from Tunisia in North Africa with the rest of the Cameroon U-20 national team before, presumably, returning to Philadelphia from Yaounde in West Africa. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is that BSFC could certainly use Ayuk’s speed and skill on the flank or even in the central attacking midfielder’s role.

Philadelphia’s acquisition of two players including United States national team veteran Alejandro Bedoya from French top flight side FC Nantes probably means that Leo Fernandes will find it more difficult than ever to get a place in the Union’s weekly 18-man squad. An opening day starter for Philadelphia as the right winger in the team’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation at the beginning of March, last season’s Young Player of the Year in the second tier North American Soccer League has never really settled at any position for either the Union or Bethlehem Steel FC this season. Exactly one goal and zero assists in nine USL matches for BSFC has not overwhelmed everybody at Goodman Stadium but all could quickly be long since forgotten if Fernandes could only rediscover some of the form that helped him fire eight goals for the New York Cosmos last term.

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Bethlehem Steel FC Coach Said What?!

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Oh no he didn’t! Well, actually, he might very well have. And, if this is, in fact, so, then Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke has been a very naughty boy and would need to be taken out the proverbial woodshed and given the tutorial he wouldn’t soon forget.

The “Brotherly Game” blog wrote in its article entitled, “Recap : Steel FC Fall To TFC II”, that the bench boss of fledgling BSFC stated in the post-game press conference following the embarrassing 3-2 loss to what was the 12th place side in the 14-team Eastern Conference that Goodman Stadium does not feel like home. Is that so? Truth of the matter is, according to the Official Quote Sheet published at Bethlehem Steel FC’s official website, what the Chester-based Burke really said at the very end of a tirade directly aimed at the match referee was, “It’s not home, we’re not home.”

Ach du lieber Gott! Sounds a lot like sooner or later, somebody is going to have to have one of those “difficult conversations” with the dear BSFC-Trainer. When that day finally does arrive, be advised that I volunteer.

In the meantime, I took the liberty of sharing the fearless BSFC head coach Burke’s actual quote with three very different people who also just so happen to be season ticket holders over at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium – it is most interesting to note that all three essentially had the same four-pronged response :

1. Bethlehem Steel FC does not practice here in the Lehigh Valley

2. The Bethlehem Steel FC players with one possible exception do not live here in the Lehigh Valley

3. It is certainly not the fault of the fans at Goodman Stadium if Bethlehem Steel FC never has any idea which players will be in its first team until the very last moment and is, quite literally, constantly changing its line-up

4. It is certainly not the fault of the fans if Bethlehem Steel FC has difficulty winning a majority of their United Soccer League matches at Goodman Stadium, as the record of four wins against four losses with three draws clearly shows that the Philadelphia Union’s farm club does

Personally, I found it most unbecoming that the wimpy Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Burke whined about the refereeing so much. Fact is, the silly match referee made a bunch of horrible calls that affected both sides so, in a very literal sense, the arbitrator was equally terrible and, thus, that did make the competition, itself, fair for both sides; such is the way it goes in soccer sometimes and, at some point, professional teams must get on with it. Furthermore, Burke failed to mention that BSFC played the last fifteen minutes (including injury time) on Sunday with a manpower advantage because Toronto FC II had been reduced to ten players by the obviously incompetent whistle-blower.

Burke also does not discuss the fact that Bethlehem Steel FC were playing its third USL match in a row with an out-of-position centerback, Nick Bibbs, who stands all of five-foot, ten-inches tall. Or that, low and behold, it was the very same undersized Bibbs who was beaten badly in the air when Toronto FC striker Shaan Hundal scored his second goal of the game in the 60th minute. Keen observers of this 2016 USL campaign will have already noted that there has been absolutely nothing preventing the BSFC head coach from using the Nigerian destroyer Bolu Akinyode (6’0″) at centerback, as Burke did earlier this season in the away match against Orlando City B back on May 7th.

I also find it fascinating that Burke is unfraid to complain about having fielded 20 different line-ups in 21 United Soccer League matches this season. Because the chowdahhead from Boston College seems to forget about how the fans here in the Lehigh Valley have been endlessly lectured about how wonderful it is that the Philadelphia Union, Bethlehem Steel FC and even the Philadelphia Union Academy are all playing the same formation, using the same system, etc., and, thus, all the players in the entire organization are all supposed to be on the same page. So, in other words, why are all the changes such a big problem for BSFC then?

I’ve been saying since pre-season training that there just is no substitute for continuity — and getting thoroughly beaten over the head with the Philadelphia Union player development hammer the whole time.

The Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Burke says that Goodman Stadium doesn’t feel like home? Well, maybe, he should consider the fact that BSFC playing the majority of its pre-season matches down in Chester did not exactly do much to help his new team get used to its new ground nor introduce itself to the fans here in the Lehigh Valley. Perhaps holding the one and only pre-season match played at Goodman Stadium this spring versus the Harrisburg City Islanders on March 15th behind closed doors did little to improve the situation, either.

And scoring the third-fewest goals out of fourteen teams in the USL’s Eastern Conference is never going to impress more than a certain limited number of people, end of story. Burke needs to realize that the Bethlehem Steel FC on-field product simply needs work and that we here in the Lehigh Valley are not just a bunch of dumb bunnies who do not understand or appreciate what we are paying for. We also know that even an “off-Broadway show” being given in a place like New Haven or Providence is undoubtedly still going to have minimum standards of excellence in terms of the overall quality of that professional production.

So, a friendly piece of advice to the BSFC bench boss Burke — always pretend you care about playoffs, even if you really don’t.

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