Bethlehem Steel FC fell to Pittsburgh in a hard-fought battle last Sunday. Their loss moved them down the standings into ninth place, just below the playoff line. Tonight, Steel FC have a chance to move back up above the red line. They take on last place Toronto FC II. Bethlehem can move all the way up to fifth place with a win.
Bethlehem Steel FC were able to score last week against Pittsburgh Riverhounds, who only had let up 10 goals before last weeks clash. Unfortunately, Steel FC were not able to secure any points as Pittsburgh scored two goals. Now, Bethlehem travels north of the border to take on TFC II.
Over the last five matches Steel FC have looked like a team inspired to move up the standings, while Toronto FC II have been floundering.
Bethlehem were on a three game winning streak until they fell to Pittsburgh. Throughout that stretch they have score 11 goals and conceded three. Against a struggling TFC II side, Steel FC should be able to find the back of the net. Bethlehem have also won their last three road matches. All signs point to this match being one where Bethlehem have success.
TFC II have lost three of their last five matches, but all of those were road contests. The other two matches were at home, where they won both. Toronto FC 2 have sported two straight shutout games. While Toronto have been a team that has struggled to get results, their recent home form is something they will look to for confidence against Steel FC.
Road warriors vs Home shutout streak
This match is the road warriors, Bethlehem Steel FC, against TFC II’s home shutout streak sitting at 180 minutes. Like last weeks clash of Bethlehem’s high-flying offense, and Pittsburgh’s league-best defense, this match features a team whose offense is hot and a team who is playing good defense. The caveat being that Steel FC’s offense has been its best on the road, and TFC 2’s defense has surged of late at home.
Will Toronto be able to keep their shutout streak alive against one of the best road offenses of the past month? If they are able to, they will hurt Steel FC’s playoff hopes greatly as they only have eight games left in their season. For Bethlehem, the stakes are high, they will have to prove that they don’t over look last place TFC II if they want to better their chances of making the playoffs.
What’s at Stake
In all honesty a loss at TFC II could doom Steel FC. With only eight games left, and having played the most games out of any team in the east, the pressure is on for Bethlehem. They will need wins to stay relevant in the playoff picture. Wins against team’s in lower positions are a must. So this game in Toronto is easily a must win game for Steel FC.
The coaches know it; the players know it. It’s now down to the team to show the type of performance that produces victories! Tis is the only USL match of the night, so a win means that Steel FC move up from ninth to fifth place, sitting on 36th points. While they could still be knocked down by the teams around them should they all get wins, Steel FC can only control their results at this point. Therefore, wins are much more crucial at this stage of the season.
This game will start out with both sides feeling the other out. Steel FC will look to get on the ball early and often possessing the ball in the midfield, while looking for their attackers to make smart runs moving forward.
Bethlehem has done this well in past road matches and it’s paid off for them. While many teams bunker in on the road to preserve a point, Bethlehem come out swinging. They look to posses and move fluidly into the attack!
While Toronto FC II have had a home shutout streak over the last two matches, Bethlehem’s style of play should expose TFC 2. Steel FC’s attack has been too good as of late to get blanked by the worst team in the conference. I expect Steel FC to continue their strong road form!
Steel FC: 3 – TFC II: 1
Be sure to catch this match tonight on ESPN+. The game kicks off at 7:00 pm EST!
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Mandatory Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC.