Bethlehem Steel FC are riding a three match unbeaten streak following a stunning 3-1 victory over Charleston Battery Saturday night. They now travel to Charlotte on just two days rest.
The story so far for Steel FC has been very positive. Despite fielding one of the youngest rosters in the league each week, the youth-filled squad has proven tough to handle both on the road and at home. Sitting comfortably in a four way tie for third place in the Eastern Conference standings with a 3-2-1 record and 10 points, Steel FC will need to regroup quicker than normal as they face a win-less Charlotte Independence on the road Tuesday night.
“On paper, [Charlotte Independence] are one of the best teams in the league so they’re certainly not going to be taken lightly by us,” said Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke. “They’re going to be a little bit desperate to chase a result so it becomes an even more difficult game than if they were in good form.”
Charlotte so far in 2019 have yet to win a match. With a 0-4-1 record, the Independence will be hungry for a result on their home pitch. The last time Charlotte recorded a victory came back in preseason on February 23rd against North Carolina FC. Needless to say, Charlotte may seem dangerous on paper but the talent hasn’t provided any noteworthy performances on the pitch.
Steel FC haven’t lost since March 24th when they dropped a home match to Memphis 901 FC 1-0. That loss remained stuck in the backs of players’ minds especially because they dominated the match but failed to earn a result. Their grit and determination grew strong and since that disappointing loss, Steel FC have netted nine goals over three matches. Burke and his club have now won two straight following the club’s first ever victory over Charleston Battery Saturday night.
“I think there’s a belief and whenever there’s a belief, guys are willing to roll up their sleeves for the next one and to believe in the messaging and to understand that if we meet it with the right energy and preparation, we can get results on the road,” said Burke of their newest road test tomorrow night.”I think it’s a great start to the season but now in order to capitalize on that momentum, it becomes harder and harder each time you go away because most teams are not going to be caught off-guard.”
Steel FC’s offense flourished Saturday night thanks to a brace from Philadelphia Union striker Kacper Przybylko and a Fabinho penalty kick goal. First team players provided a much needed jolt in terms of quality and concentration on the pitch for Burke’s young group.
“We were a little soft in the last 10 minutes but the energy, the commitment to live in transition and accomplish the things that we wanted to throughout the week really came through and I have to credit the first team guys that came down,” said Burke.
To earn results on the road here and there is an accomplishment in and of itself. But to consistently pester teams on their own pitch to gain crucial points in the standings is the ultimate goal for Burke. Tuesday night will be another prime opportunity for his club as they hope to continue earning important results in the early stages of the season.
The gameplan will remain the same for Steel FC. They’ll look to remain compact and organized defensively while pressuring Charlotte for 90+ minutes.
“I think with our box in the midfield, our four against their three, we’ll be able to lock them in and they will have nowhere to go,” said rookie Cole Turner. “We’ll be breathing right down their necks whenever they touch the ball. We just come out and play the way we are and it’s hard for teams to handle right now.”
Burke will hope for more of the same despite playing on short rest. Kickoff is set for 7PM at Charlotte Independence and will stream live on ESPN+.
Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Steel FC, and other soccer content!
Follow our writers on Twitter:
Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC.