Game: Bethlehem Steel FC vs. Louisville City FC
Date: Sunday, May 1st
Time: 3:00 PM EDT (7:00 PM GMT)
Venue: Goodman Stadium - Bethlehem, PA
Referees: REF: Rosario Candela, AR1: James Duling, AR2: Patrick Casey, 4TH: Daniel Pannullo Jr
Television: TV2 Sports (Lehigh Valley)
After a scoreless draw that saw a largely defensive effort by both Bethlehem and the Charleston Battery last Sunday, Steel FC will look to dispatch Louisville City FC on the first of May.
In what is shaping up to be a game that might be greatly impacted by the incoming rain, Brendan Burke midweek said that the main focus for his defense is stopping USL goal scoring leader, back to back team of the week maker, and former Philadelphia Union player Chandler Hoffman. Staying in front of Hoffman and always keeping tabs on him are going to be vital if Steel FC want to shut down the electric forward, who has put together an impressive run of seven goals in six games. Elsewhere, Louisville will look for Kadeem Dacres to try and make the right side of the midfield his, as well as midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo to match the work rate of BSFC's Bolu Akinyode or Derrick Jones. Scott Goodwin will not be available due to a red card he picked up during their last match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, so Bethlehem will be able to test out backup goalie Gregory Ranjitsingh.
For Bethlehem, it'll be trying to find a balance. Last week was great for people that like to see great defensive efforts (hello there), but really I would like to see more from Fabian Herbers et al. Herbers had the only shots on goal for Bethlehem last week, and the first one he had showed a great awareness to get behind defenders and really challenge the opposing netminder. Derrick Jones probably feels hard done on his chance early in the match that saw a first time volley sky over the bar, but he'll grow as an attacking player and we should see that part of his game develop nicely.
Coach Burke also pointed out he was happy with where the team was as a whole on Thursday, commenting on the last batch of opponents that Steel FC have had to go up against. The Richmond Kickers, Charleston and Louisville are all USL powerhouses, with Richmond and Charleston being perennial mainstays and front runners and LouCity currently occupying the Eastern Conference top spot. Bethlehem doesn't have the advantage that a Charleston or Louisville does of retaining a consistent 20-30 man roster, and the fact that they beat Richmond and drew the Battery should be looked at as a big deal.
Relationships will develop over time between players, but the biggest goal in USL is development. The pipeline rhetoric that was forged (not sorry at all) since a terribly cold and wet day in November could've been taken as "on-brand marketing" by everyone involved. That being said, seeing the likes of Ken Tribbett and Josh Yaro put in valuable time at the MLS level this early into their professional careers shouldn't go by unnoticed. Even in Bethlehem we've seen two fantastic performances by 17 year old Auston Trusty. Derrick Jones and Bolu Akinyode look like guys that can turn into absolute anchors in the midfield and other than a 4-0 thrashing, John McCarthy is showing that he might have good back-up potential in him.
Kickoff is at 3:00pm EST again this Sunday, and if you don't want to brave the elements (it's fine, I won't tell anyone) watch on YouTube from your couch above. If you want to follow along on the twitter machine during the match go over to the Brotherly Game twitter here. Annndddd, if you really like me or the team or my writing, follow me on twitter for various rambling and match day observations right here.