Fabian Herbers named to USL Team of the Week; Adam Najem earns bench spot

Philadelphia Union midfielder Fabian Herbers tallied a goal and an assist during performances against New York Red Bulls II and Indy Eleven last week, earning a spot on the week 10 USL Team of the Week. Adam Najem’s contributions were acknowledged as well as he was named an honoree bench member.

USL Week 10 Team of the Week. Photo Courtesy of USL
Fabian Herbers and Adam Najem: Week 10 Highlights
Fabian Herbers escapes pressure during Wednesday night’s 3-0 victory against Eastern Conference rival New York Red Bulls II. Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Union.

Herbers finished a perfectly executed counter attack opportunity late in the second half Wednesday night against New York. His right footed blast found the back of the net, providing an insurance goal for Steel FC’s first of two wins through four days.

Najem assisted on Steel FC’s first goal against New York. A bending shot into the right corner of the net from 18-year old winger Michee Ngalina gave a 1-0 lead. In the 94th minute, Najem received a lengthy throw-in from forward Cory Burke near the top of New York’s box. Najem cheekily allowed the ball by him to gain position on his man before slotting home the goal.

Saturday night provided similar offensive production from Steel FC when they traveled west to play Indy Eleven. The first hour of the contest resulted in a 0-0 affair with chances for both teams. However, Herbers found a way to breakthrough to make an impact. Herbers jumped on a loose ball near Indy’s box and sent a ball towards the middle for Santi Moar. Moar settled the ball neatly, switched play to his right foot, and blasted home the match’s first goal.

Indy would equalize in the 70th minute. Steel FC countered immediately in the 74th thanks to left back Prosper Chiluya’s long-range goal. The match ended in a 2-1 win for Steel FC.

Midfield Impacts

Both Najem and Herbers, Philadelphia Union midfielders, have been highly effectively on loan for Steel FC throughout the first few months. The first few matches saw Najem creating space for himself and his teammates through crafty position and wide-eyed vision.

Herbers struggled to involve himself into the offensive mix. On too many occasions, both last season and early in 2018, Herbers drifted too far back. His positioning inhibited his abilities to help out in the final third. While tracking back helps Steel FC gain possession and defend a bit more well-rounded, Herbers needed to be much higher up the field to impact the match.

Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke wasn’t shy about mentioning that last week during a  call with the media. “Fabian needs to be at least 15 to 20 yards higher up the pitch for us out there,” said Burke. Burke did reiterate Herbers’ ability to help with possession in the midfield. However, the 4-2-3-1 system requires the outside wingers to press high up the pitch. The high pressing allows room for the striker and central midfielders space to roam.

This past week, Herbers followed those instructions beautifully to the tune of a goal, an assist, and six points. He gained back the confidence of his coaches, teammates, and fans alike in his ability to be effective in the final third.

Steel FC will look to continue their winning ways against Ottawa Fury FC Friday night. They have one final training session in town tomorrow morning before departing for Canada.

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