Steel FC double down on 2018 SuperDraft selections by signing midfielder to professional deal.
Bethlehem Steel FC rewarded former Wisconsin midfielder Mike Catalano with a professional contract Thursday afternoon after a solid preseason showing to date. The total amount of players under contract for Bethlehem now sits at 12.
Strong preseason and dedicated work ethic sets Catalano apart
Catalano made the most of his training days under Head Coach Brendan Burke’s watch. Steel FC’s skipper was pleased to announce the midfielder’s signing.
“Mike has impressed me through these first four weeks of preseason and will be a valuable member of our squad this season,” said Burke. “We are very happy to be adding a balanced central midfield player who showed that he can also contribute goals like he did at Wisconsin,” Burke mentioned.
After being selected 54th overall in the third round of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, Catalano’s fate remained in the balance. The later round draft picks normally suffer a longer route to the professional ranks. But the Philadelphia Union have been known to acq uire some quality players in the later rounds of the past – Michael Farfan (2nd round 2011), Ray Gaddis (2nd round 2012), Antoine Hoppenot (3rd round 2012 Supplemental), Richie Marquez (3rd round 2014), Marcus Epps (2nd round 2017), and Santi Moar (4th round 2017).
Catalano seems poised to be a key player for the central midfield group which suffered Wednesday afternoon against Villanova. Burke should be looking forward to having a midfielder with both attacking and defending skills blended together in one player like Catalano.
AJ Paterson, James Chambers, and now Catalano round out the central midfielders on roster. Chambers of course will be on the field as much as possible once more in 2018.
Catalano: major force behind Wisconsin’s postseason run in 2017 Men’s College Cup
Despite finishing the season unranked and just fifth in Big Ten standings, Wisconsin executed an incredibly streak to win the Big Ten conference tournament, stunning #2 Indiana in the process. Their efforts in conference tournament action granted a spot in the College Cup. An easy win in the first round let to a wild upset over #12 Notre Dame.
Catalano scored a goal in each postseason game. The third and final postseason game for Catalano resulted in a 3-2 loss to #5 Akron. Of particular note, Catalano dropped two in the net for Wisconsin in their final game of the season against #5 Akron that day.
Akron would later make the trip to Chester as a Final Four team only to lose to the national champion #9 Stanford Cardinal in their semifinal match. If you would like a recap of some 2017 College Cup coverage, check that out here.
Catalano finished his collegiate career with 19 goals, five assists, in 67 appearances while racking up 6,091 minutes with Wisconsin. In addition to college ball, Catalano took a much needed step in his development by competing in the Premier Development League (PDL) his final two summers in college. His first summer in PDL was brief, playing just two matches with Reading United A.C. His second summer was more productive. Catalano appeared in 11 matches, scored two goals, and logged 887 minutes for Chicago United FC.
2018 MLS SuperDraft was Wisconsin heavy
Two of the top 10 selections off the board were Wisconsin Badgers. Chris Mueller went 6th to Orlando City SC and Mark Segbers went 9th to New England Revolution. Segbers selection was a historical one for his Alma mater. January 19th, draft day, will go down in Wisconsin’s school history books as not only the first time to have two players selected in the first round but also two players within the first 10 picks.
Just two other colleges produced four SuperDraft selections: Akron and Virginia.
Steel FC look to tie up loose ends ahead of busy preseason week
Coach Burke and his young club have a lot of work to do prior to kicking off their USL season in just 15 days. Over the next week, Steel FC are scheduled to play three more preseason friendlies including two in Chester at the Power Training Complex.
Tomorrow March 4th, in-state rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds travel south to play Bethlehem at Power Training Complex. Just two days later, Steel FC travel south themselves to take on the University of Maryland in a weeknight affair. Lastly, New York Red Bulls II showdown against Steel FC at Power Training Complex on March 10th.
Following those three friendlies, Burke’s squad head back to the training ground. A final effort to make sure all players are fit will take place in anticipation of their home opener March 18th at Goodman Stadium against the Richmond Kickers.
Coach Burke expressed both concern and confusion following his team’s hiccup performance against Villanova this past week. One major topic Burke took exception to?Fitness levels. Something to keep an eye out for this week.