While on the bottom half of the USL’s Eastern Conference table, Bethlehem Steel FC can boast of a scoreless draw earlier this season, one of just three clubs to shut out Louisville City FC in 2016.
The club will make its first trip to Louisville for a 7:30 p.m. Saturday kickoff at Slugger Field. Here’s what to know about the Steel…
Record: 6-10-8 (26 points) in 24 games
Coach: Brendan Burke
LouCity all-time vs. Bethlehem: 0-0-1
Franchise history: The Steel started play this year as the official affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. Bethlehem is about 60 miles from Philadelphia, and the club plays at 16,000-seat Goodman Stadium, also home to Lehigh University and Philadelphia Eagles training camps.
Current form: Battling to make it to 8th place in the Eastern Conference standings — the USL’s playoff cut line — the Steel have struggled lately. They most recently fell by a 3-2 score Sunday to FC Montreal and overall have lost four of their last six. Bethlehem last won a game on July 14.
Style of play: Goals haven’t lacked for the Steel, who often call upon the Union’s MLS-level talent pool to fill out squads. But there’s also plenty of turnover, as less than a full 11-player lineup and bench is listed as Bethlehem’s official roster. The club has as of late given up more goals, conceding at least two in each of its last four games.
Player to watch: Ryan Richter leads the Steel with five goals this season, but Cory Burke has been the go-to scorer lately. He scored in Bethlehem’s last two outings to double his output in 2016. A native of Jamaica, Burke is on a one-year loan from Rivolu United, a first division club in his home country.
Another to know: Midfielder James Chambers, an Ireland native with national team caps up to the U23 level, scored his first goal and added an assist Sunday in a loss to FC Montreal, showing he has settled in during his first USL stint. Chambers now leads the Steel with four assists on the year.