Last week wasn't a great time for Brendan Burke and his young squad up in Harrison against Red Bulls II. That shouldn't be anything a little bit of home support can't fix however, as Bethlehem take on one of the pillars of the USL in the Richmond Kickers on Sunday at 3:00.
Richmond is the D.C. United affiliate who really could stand alone as a club if they wanted/had to. They only had two DCU loanees in their squad, and Paul Clowes and Jalen Robinson didn't see any of the field against Rochester last week. Richmond has started the season impressively. Undefeated in the first three games with four goals scored has Bethlehem's opponents undefeated and sharing the top spot in the East. Hopefully Steel FC can return to controlling the midfield which was a large part of their success against FC Cincinnati and FC Montreal. That's where the good news and bad news for Bethlehem comes into play. Good news: Bolu Akinyode is back which should help with the hold up play offensively. Bad news: James Chambers is out which might leave the back line a bit stranded at some times. You'll most likely see another pro debut/learning experience from Josh Heard and/or Nick Bibbs. Like Auston Trusty did last week, Heard/Bibbs will get a chance to show their skill set for a prolonged spell for the first time this season. In terms of attack, Fabian Herbers will probably be with the first team in Seattle, so I would expect Amoy Brown to start up front at striker, complimented by Eric Ayuk and Walter Restrepo. As much as I would like to see Seku Conneh start and try to impress at home again or even a pro debut from Lehigh University graduate Jamie Luchini, Burke said midweek not to expect too many changes. That statement would probably mean we are going to see another game with John McCarthy in net. Now, while this probably won't happen, I would love to see Samir Badr get his first start for Steel FC. His ability to organize a defense is more important than just being a great shot stopper, and with a rotating back line it might be better for Steel FC to use a goalie with Badr's organizational skills.
This match will come down to getting a consistent effort from whoever plays up top. If Bolu Akinyode is able to boss around the midfield with Derrick Jones (always a fun combo in the center of the park) Bethlehem should have a pretty good chance of giving the home supporters a nicer result in Goodman Stadium this time around. Keep in mind that the big thing here is to see guys develop, so come see the young guys on the cheap before they make the jump to the first team.
Go watch the match on Sunday afternoon over here! Follow Bethlehem Steel FC on twitter for the latest official news and info here! And of course be sure to tweet along with myself over on the Brotherly game account here.