Bethlehem Steel FC fall to Louisville City FC in quarterfinals of USL Playoffs

Bethlehem Steel FC fell to Louisville City FC 2-0 this past Saturday. This halts Steel FC’s historic season in the quarterfinals of the USL playoffs.

Bethlehem Steel FC lose to defending USL Champions Louisville City 2-0. On a night where the refs were letting plays go, Steel FC could not find ways to capitalize on opportunities. Steel FC fall short in the quarterfinals, but have had their best season in their three-year history in 2018. Let’s look back at the match, and put a bow on Steel FC’s historic 2018 season.

Louisville City FC recap

Before the match even kicked off, Bethlehem Steel FC knew they’d be without Anthony Fontana and Matt Real, as they were away with the US-U20’s for World Cup Qualifying. On top of that Steel FC would be with out winger Michee Ngalina due to an injury. This limited Steel FC’s attacking options, and damaged their shape against a very formidable foe.

As the match kicked off at Slugger Field, it was clear that Steel FC’s game plan was halted by the play of Louisville city and the size of the pitch. With the field width reduced, and missing some key link-up players Bethlehem had to look to other means to break down Louisville City FC. Louisville clamped down on Steel FC when the ball was played into wide positions.

Because Louisville swarmed Steel FC, they were able to dispossess Bethlehem and then pick them apart! Some beautiful buildup play led to Louisville’s opening goal. Brian Ownby scored on a tidy finish in the 34th minute. This goal seemed to bury Bethlehem Steel FC. With minimal attacking substitute options, Steel FC had to find a way to get chances and make the most of them.

In the second half Louisville continued to frustrate Bethlehem. Every attempt to break down the home sides defense ended in a break for Louisville. One of those breaks led to Louisville City FC second, and game ending goal. Brian Ownby was put in on goal and put the chance past Jake McGuire. The game came to a close after some chippy play from both sides, and some choice expletives from Steel FC coach Branden Burke. Steel FC’s championship hopes were halted two games short of lifting a trophy.

Steel FC’s historic 2018 campaign

Even though Steel FC fell short of a championship, there’s a lot of positive takeaways from the 2018 season. Steel FC continued to be a great place for younger Philadelphia Union players to get playing time. Bethlehem also became the great first step of pro soccer for players in the Philadelphia Union Academy.

This season will be remembered for the clubs first playoff victory, the highest playoff seeding in club history ,and also set a club record for wins in a season (14) goals (58) assists (46) and home wins (eight). The club has a decent foundation to build on for next year!

What will 2019 bring?

Historically off-season changes mean that there are a lot of chances for Steel FC. Look for many of the players to be evaluated, have contracts renegotiated or possibly cut. Next season also means that Union Academy players moving up the pipeline will have a chance to play professional minutes with steel FC.

Only time will tell what will happen for Steel FC next season in 2019. We’ll be sure to give off-season updates when they start to happen! Next season begins in April of 2019!

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Mandatory Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC.