After starting the month of September with back-to-back positive results – a 2-0 home W and a 3-3 road draw – Steel FC suffered their 14th loss on the year in a 2-1 loss at Indy Eleven. Now with just seven matches remaining and just two at home, they’ll fight for every point.
“Two home games left so every game now is like a playoff game,” said former Union Academy player and current Steel FC standout Issa Rayyan said earlier this week about the upcoming clash with Loudon United FC. “We’re home so we’re going to try and win.”
The messaging on and off the training pitch following the 2-1 road loss just days ago has focused on the intensity needed down the stretch for Steel FC to contend for that last playoff spot. Currently, Steel FC are nine points behind Birmingham Legion FC who sit in 10th place with 36 points.
This month, Steel FC looked like a more cohesive unit – one that seemed destined to press forward for that final playoff spot. But now some are worried the road loss at Indy may serve as yet another hiccup in Steel FC’s year-long struggle to string positive results together.
Yet both the players and Head Coach Brendan Burke realize there were far more positives than negatives to take away from their most recent loss.
“One of our few consistent qualities is that we put a lot of effort into each match,” said Burke. “I thought we did that in Indy and deserved a point at least based on our performance. We didn’t get that but we can take some solace from it.”
But for some Steel FC fans, effort alone may not be good enough. Developing young players and granting them opportunities to shine in the professional environment is a major positive, yet at the same time, the question becomes: what good is development if the players go out and get beat each week?
It’s a central question team captain and long-time pro James Chambers brings up routinely – constantly calling on young players to approach each game with a tenacious attitude and a ‘little fire in their bellies.’ And the young players know the negatives losing provides on their development pathways as well.
But the group also understands the importance of plucking the positives out of negative results. Which is what they’ll focus on tonight against Loudon.
“I think it’s going to be a battle,” said West Chester native and goalkeeper Todd Morton. “Every game and every point matters at this point. A lot of the game is about confidence. The last game didn’t go the way we wanted to but we try to take the positives away from that game and just keep the momentum rolling.”
With five of their remaining matches to be played away from home, Chambers and his young teammates will need a win tonight against a team they thttps://www.philadelphiaunion.com/bethlehem-steel-fc/scheduleied 3-3 against back in early May.
Catch the action tonight on ESPN+ with kickoff set for 7:30 PM from Talen Energy Stadium in Chester. Check out the official game notes here.
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Mandatory Credit: Bethlehem Steel FC
Graduate of Pennsylvania State University ’16. Interests include sports and history. Follow on twitter for Philly sports news – @MMcClain_PSN
Philadelphia Union writer.