Bethlehem Steel FC has found a good bit of road form recently. In the last eight days, Steel FC won at Richmond Kickers 3-0, and at Charlotte Independence 3-0. Today they play at home against third place Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Can Steel FC win their third game in eight days?
A look at Bethlehem’s form and USL’s eastern conference:
Since last weekend Bethlehem has moved from the lower end of the eastern conference table to the top half. Steel FC currently sits in 7th place, and could move a high as 5thwith a win against Pittsburgh. Riverhounds SC have four games in hand on Steel FC so Bethlehem will need to take points from this match to contend with them moving forward. Steel FC is tied for most matches played in the eastern conference at this point of the season, which make this game all the more crucial.
As of right now, the difference between 5th place in the east and 13th place in the east is separated by nine points. To say that the race for an eastern conference playoff spot will be tight is an understatement (the top eight teams at the end of the season secure a playoff spot). For Steel FC this fight will test their strength and psyche.
Steel FC have 10 games left in their season, starting today against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. At this point in the season every point is crucial in this race for the playoffs. Having played the most games in the eastern conference, and sitting pretty in a playoff spot at the moment, Steel FC will need to keep their momentum as they move forward. They will look to keep up their good form, and keep themselves in playoff contention tonight against Riverhounds SC.
Bethlehem Steel FC vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC:
Today will be the first of two meetings that these sides play this season. Pittsburgh has had a superb season. They sit in third place on 40 points, sporting an 11-7-3 record. This match will help shape the eastern conference playoff race.
Over the last five games, both of these teams sport a 3-2-0 record. For Pittsburgh, they have only lost once, and drawn once on the road this season. However that one loss came in the Riverhounds’ last match at North Carolina FC. Could they come into Goodman Stadium and nick the win from Steel?
Steel FC has only lost twice at home this season, tuning Goodman Stadium into a fortress. No matter who’s on the pitch, Steel FC protects their house. Pittsburgh produces a tough test for this Steel FC team. Both sides have shown good form as of late, It will take a very sharp Bethlehem side to beat Pittsburgh, which ultimately means that Steel FC will have to score goals.
Both teams have shown some pretty impressive scoring abilities. Pittsburgh has a +16 goal differential scoring 26 goals on the season. Steel FC has also shown they can produce offense, sporting a +11 goal differential and scoring 40 goals this season! Both teams know how to put the ball in the back of the net.
Pittsburgh has become the great road team they are obviously by scoring goals on the road. Their last three road matches they scored at least once, riding those goals to two wins and a loss. They will try to add to their streak today at Bethlehem, but they may be in for some trouble.
Steel FC has scored 10 goals in their last three matches! Their team has proven that no matter is getting the chances to score, that they are converting those chances to goals. Their hot offense will look to put some goals past the best defense in all of USL. Pittsburgh has only allowed 10 goals past them all season. This match has a chance to be a thrilling contest!
Not likely to end in a draw:
Both of these teams have not drawn a game in a long while. Steel FC have not dawn in their last five games, while Riverhounds SC have not drawn in their last seven matches. This game is one that is not likely to end in a draw either.
Even though Pittsburgh’s league best defense is poised to stop the recently hot Bethlehem attack, this match has the makings of a shootout. Bethlehem has a hotter offense right now, but Pittsburgh has a knack of scoring goals against Steel FC. Last season, the Riverhounds SC scored three goals in both of their matches against Steel FC; both games ended with a 3-2 score-line. I expect more of the same type of game from this one today.
The league’s best defense against a team on a tremendous goal-scoring hot streak, this one will be a thriller. I expect the game to start out with Pittsburgh playing sound defense, but when they start attacks I see Steel FC finding holes to exploit. This match will hinge on midfield play. A Steel FC triangle of Chambers, Skundrich and Fontana should be able to get the best of Pittsburgh, and help Bethlehem find space to create chances. This game should be goal filled, but I expect fewer goals than last year in this series. I see Steel FC rolling on continuing their hot streak winning 2-1!
Highlights from Steel FC’s last win over Charlotte Independence:
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Mandatory Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC.