Bethlehem Steel FC take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in Round of 16 of USL playoffs

Bethlehem Steel FC are on to the USL playoffs! After a run of four games unbeaten, and a 1-0 win on the last day of the season, Bethlehem secured a playoff spot. Bethlehem take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC tonight at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN+.

Steel FC head across the state to take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the round of 16 of the USL playoffs. Here’s a look at the playoff bracket; the route to USL Cup 2018.

USL playoff format:

Teams one-to-eight from each conference make the USL Playoffs. The teams are aligned in a bracket. The top half of the bracket have the one seed hosting the eight seed and the four seed facing the five seed. The lower half of the bracket seeds the three seed take on the six seed, and the two seed taking on the seven seed. The higher seeds host the playoff games.

This type of playoff bracket is more of a traditional American style of playoffs; single elimination games. This means there are no home-and-away series games like there are in MLS.

Steel FC finished the season in 6th position in the Eastern conference so they head to western PA to take on three seed Riverhounds SC in Pittsburgh.

Steel FC are the 6th seed:

Bethlehem Steel FC ended their season with a win against Tampa Bay Rowdies. That, coupled with a Red Bulls II win, locked Steel FC in the six seed spot in the east. Steel have showcased some great attacking play, and solid defense at times. They do this whilst committing to playing very young players. Many Philadelphia Union academy players get minutes, and that is a vital part to seeing if they are ready to take the step up to the professional level in either USL or MLS. Some Union players have helped out with Steel FC this season; notably John McCarthy, Anthony Fontana, Marcus Epps and Olivier Mbaizo. This young hungry side travel to Pittsburgh for their first match in the 2018 playoffs.

3rd seeded Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC has been a very impressive team in 2018 They come into the postseason with just five losses on the season. They’ve been very good at home posting a 9-2-7. Under first-year head coach Bob Lilley, Pittsburgh has become very organized. They lead USL with 17 shutouts throughout the 2018 season. Riverhounds SC’s defense has been their corner stone. Opposition teams spend so much time and effort looking for ways to break them down, that they leave themselves exposed to a counter attack. Pittsburgh has been a dangerous on those counter attacks through Neco Brett and Kenardo Forbes. Brett being the teams leading scorer with 15 goals; Forbes lead the team in assists with eight. The structure of Pittsburgh’s rigid defense and lethal counter attack has hurt Steel FC this season.

Regular Season Matches:

This season Steel FC has lost both of their league matches to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. The first came at home by a score of 2-1; the second a loss at Pittsburgh 4-1. If the script is to flip this time around, Steel FC will have to execute their high paced possession style of play, while limiting Pittsburghs chances to hit them on the counter. Steel FC have not lost a game since that 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh back at the beginning of September. Bethlehem are on a bit of a role. They will look to seek revenge on their cross state rivals, and put an end to Pittsburgh’s impressive season.

Steel FC are playoff ready:

Steel FC are hungry to show that they belong among the top clubs in USL’s Eastern Conference. Their 2018 schedule was heavier at the beginning of the season, at that point they were among the top four teams in USL’s East. When things started balancing out, Steel FC fell on some harder times. Now the season is over, they made the playoffs for a second straight season, and they are ready to show that they are capable to win the franchises first ever game.

The teams youth, and possession style has them playing some attractive and beautiful soccer. If they can execute their game plan to perfection they should be able to beat Pittsburgh for the first time this season.

You can catch the action on ESPN+ tonight at 7:00 PM ET!

Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Steel FC, and other soccer content!

Follow our writers on Twitter:

Tim Lovenguth

Matt McClain

Jeff Green

Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC.