The biggest week in the Philadelphia Union's short history just got even bigger this morning with the unveiling of Bethlehem Steel FC - the club's new USL affiliate. The quick presser today from the beautiful backdrop of both Bethlehem itself and the hauntingly beautiful Steel Stacks behind the room that held the conference was very to the point. Union Executive Vice President Dave Rowan, Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez, Head Coach Jim Curtin, and Investor Richie Graham were all speakers in what was a very good showing for the community of Bethlehem and the Union.
Rowan made a point to note his great-grandfather actually worked in the steel mills behind him, and was grateful that the Union had the opportunity to bring professional soccer back to a city that has a long history of supporting the sport. Mayor Donchez talked at length about how he was excited to add another team to the growing list of farm systems that seem to be invading the Lehigh Valley. Donchez mentioned the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Philadelphia Phillies) and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers), adding that the Bethlehem Steel was a very important step for both the Union and the Lehigh Valley.
Curtin had some very interesting things to say, mostly by way of praising his admittedly impressive youth system. Curtin claimed that a lot of the future of MLS and US Soccer lies in the USL and developing homegrown talent. He expects this new franchise to be a bridge between the Academy and the Union, housing developmental talent. Curtin was also confident in the atmosphere at the new home of the Steel, adding that he had chills thinking about opening night at Lehigh University's Goodman Field.
Then of course we got a look at the new Bethlehem Steel FC logo, and while I'll leave you to decide if you like it or not, it definitely could've been a lot worse. Next comes naming a coach, unveiling the jersey, and building the roster, but until then what we have is a lot of reasonable cause for optimism and passion.