All you need to know: Bethlehem Steel FC strike a deal with goal scoring forward Brandon Allen

24-year old forward signs with Bethlehem Steel FC. He brings to the team goals, and lots of ’em. Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Steel FC.

To put it as plainly as possible… the guy scores goals. At 24 years young, Allen was signed by Bethlehem Steel FC this morning to fill a much needed gap in the 2018 Steel FC roster: Forward.

Off-season moves to date: a recap

So far this off-season, Steel FC have lost their two top goal scorers. Jamaican international Cory Burke earned a well deserved promotion to the first team Philadelphia Union on December 21st. Seku Conneh’s contract expired, Bethlehem decided not to re-negotiate, and Conneh has since signed with the Ansan Greener’s of the K League in South Korea. Conneh inked a one-year deal this past Friday January 5th.

To date Bethlehem’s 2018 roster totals just six players. Youngster defenders Matthew Mahoney and Matthew Real will return along with the Irishman and steady captain at midfield James Chambers. The two stellar rookie forwards/wingers Chris Nanco and Santi Moar will be back as well.

When Steel FC announced their year-end roster moves back in early November, they declined the options of nine player. Contract options were not picked up on defenders Charlie Reyman and Hugh Roberts. Roberts was a bit of a surprise given his consistent play and leadership. Hugh is a former USL Defender of the Year winner. Options declined on midfielders Chris Wingate and Amoy Brown. Contracts expired on midfielders Josh Heard and Yosef Samuel and the above-mentioned forward Seku Conneh.

With just six players under contract, it is damn near impossible to predict how well they’ll perform in 2018. There are great core players at each position group which is promising to say the least. The signing of Brandon Allen is a great addition for a team in desperate need for a top forward – someone who can put the ball in the net night after night.

Who is Brandon Allen?

Allen is a native of Old Bridge, NJ located an hour and a half from both Bethlehem and Philadelphia. He attended Saint Joseph High School in Metuchen, NJ. Throughout his high school career, Allen tallied 118 goals. By the time he was a senior he ranked as high as number 11 in ESPN’s High School Top 50 that year. During his time at Saint Joseph HS, he played within the New York Red Bulls Academy system between the years 2010-2012. Allen scored 28 goals in just 24 games by the end of the 2010-2011 season – the most goals scored by any player in the Red Bulls Academy that year. Allen played alongside current Bethlehem Steel FC defender Matt Mahoney and Philadelphia Union midfield Adam Najem within New York Red Bulls Academy.

His talent did not go unnoticed however as Allen went on to accept an offer to play for Georgetown University from 2012-2015 prior to be signed by the very same NYRB club as a Homegrown Player. Before he signed that contract, Allen scored even more goals – this time leaving his mark on the Hoyas’ soccer program by becoming the school’s all-time leading goal scorer by the time he finished his tenure there. Allen netted 50 goals and assisted on 19 more over 91 games, 90 of which he was a starter.

As a four-year starter Allen produced results. Playing alongside current Philadelphia Union defenders Keegan Rosenberry and Josh Yaro, Georgetown won the Big East championship in 2015 against Creighton. Philadelphia Union midfielder Fabian Herbers played on Creighton in 2015 as well. Allen was a three-time first team All-American and a four-time first team All-Big East player.

The guy scores goals.

Allen’s senior year in 2015 he not only helped bring a Big East title to Georgetown but he also was named a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy (college soccer’s Heisman Trophy). He lost out to Stanford’s star forward Jordan Morris, who currently plays for Seattle Sounders FC. The other finalist was Herbers.

Notable past Hermann Trophy winners: 2011 Andrew Wenger (Duke), 2010 Darlington Nagbe (Akron), 2009 Teal Bunbury (Akron).

New York Red Bulls came calling on Allen once his time with Georgetown was through. Allen signed his first professional contract in late 2015 as a Homegrown Player. He was the second member of the Allen family to hit the professional level in the soccer world. His older brother RJ Allen was drafted by Chivas USA in 2012 MLS Superdraft but RJ declined to sign, instead opting to sign with a pro club in the Danish second division. He signed with New York City FC in May of 2015 after trials with a handful of MLS teams. RJ was recently traded to Orlando City SC. Football runs deep in the Allen family.

Brandon Allen made his MLS debut at Red Bull Arena on May 28, 2016 against Toronto FC playing just seven minutes after subbing on for Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 83rd minute. Allen was replacing a man who just recorded a franchise-record fourth career hat trick. Quite the way for a young player to break onto the MLS scene. NYRB would go on to win 3-0.

That one late game in May would be the only MLS action Allen would see the remainder of the year. But he did not sit idle during this time. Instead he suited up for NYRB’s United Soccer League (USL) affiliate New York Red Bulls II. As a rookie, Allen was the team leader in goals with 15 regular season goals. He would tally six more goals throughout the USL Cup Playoffs – which included a hat trick in the Cup Final against Swope Park Rangers. Red Bulls II slaughtered Swope Park that day 5-1 for the championship.

 

Brandon Allen celebrating after a goal. The guy scores goals. Photo courtesy of New York Red Bulls II.

 

Brandon Allen raising the 2016 Rookie of the Year award. He won the award because, the guy scores goals. Photo courtesy of Bill Twomey Photography.

Allen won 2016 USL Rookie of the Year and was named to the USL All-League Team following his efforts throughout the year.

The guy scores goals.

Just about halfway through the 2017 season, Allen had scored nine goals in 15 appearances and then was abruptly sent out on loan to MLS club Minnesota United. He struggled to earn first-team minutes. Allen started for Minnesota in a July friendly against Dutch powerhouse Ajax. The only other minutes he earned came three months later as a late game substitute. Total MLS minutes for 2017: a mere nine minutes.

But remember, the guy scores goals.

Looking ahead

Bethlehem Steel FC have already announced more news will be released tomorrow. Most likely the news will pertain to additional roster moves. If the signing of forward Brandon Allen is a sign of things to come, then the 2018 Steel FC roster should fill out rather nicely. After all, Allen fills an enormous gap in the 2018 roster. Burke and Conneh scored a combined 19 goals throughout 2017 and assisted on four more. Together Burke and Conneh produced 23 of Bethlehem’s 46 goals. 50% of the offense is gone. Allen produces offensively. Team need filled.

Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke seemed delighted to have a guy like Allen added to his roster. “We know he has a nose for goals and proved it in college with an unbelievable scoring record there so we know what we are getting,” Burke said. “It’s hard to find anyone else in the USL that has scored more goals per game over the last few years as Brandon [Allen] has,” added Burke.

It’s rather obvious… The guys scores goals.

 

andatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Graduate of Pennsylvania State University ’16. Interests include sports and history. Follow on twitter for Philly sports news – @m_mcclain15.
Philadelphia Union writer.

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