Game: Bethlehem Steel FC @ Wilmington Hammerheads
Date: Friday, June 17
Time: 7:00pm EST
Venue: Legion Stadium
Referees: REF: Jorge Ramirez, AR1: Erick Varone, AR2: Brian Bozard, 4TH: Patrick Whitman
Television: Service Electric Channel 2, Livestreaming for free on Youtube
All time record: 0-0-0
Here we go folks, another first time meeting. This one has plenty of twists in the usual story, and in fact both Steel FC and the Hammerheads are at an even 4-4-4 this year with Wilmington ahead on goal differential. That being said, let’s talk team makeups.
What Wilmington will look like:
Last week the Hammerheads drew Louisville City 2-2. On Wednesday they drew Real Salt Lake in US Open Cup play by the same score before getting bounced out of the Cup on penalty kicks. This is a team that can stick in a game and get results they want. Between that success is largely in part due to consistency at the back. Jon Smits has played everyone of the Hammerheads 1080 minutes this season, which puts him in some pretty exclusive company in terms of goalies in the USL. Sacramento Republic mainstay Dominik Jakubek and FC Cincinnati stand out Mitch Hildebrandt are the only other keepers to have logged every minute for their club. Wilmington might be a team that can play the same physical style that Bethlehem have liked to use all season. Bruno Caldini Perone is the main target up front, leading the team with four goals, all while conceding a whopping 14 fouls along the way. Former Seattle Sounder Ashani Fairclough will either make your life miserable off of set pieces or by adding to his yellow card total that currently sits at four. Mael Corboz is the main cog in the Hammerhead’s attack. Four assists and a goal added for good measure see the former University of Maryland Terrapin in a position for a breakout year. Once again the midfield is going to be the key to the game. Wilmington will be a bit drained from a big midweek matchup against RSL, but they’ll be game for Steel FC.
What Bethlehem will look like:
Should be a decently similar lineup to what we saw in a gritty win against the Independence last week. Jones and Akinyode will try and establish a presence, Auston Trusty will try and fend off a crafty veteran in Perone. Samir Badr will probably continue barking orders out of the back. The big things here are just where the offense is going to come from. Bethlehem have three guys in the midfield who can shoot from 18+. Derrick Jones, James Chambers and to a lesser extent Bolu Akinyode can all shoot from distance, but I almost wish they would have a go more in the early stages of these games. Offensively, Jamie Luchini, Cory Burke and Cole Missimo will probably be the top three. Amoy Brown is working on getting a green card, Raheem Taylor-Parkes is probably not joining the team because of a really minor ankle problem and the Internationally known Eric Ayuk and Seku Conneh are both up in the air. Cory Burke finally got off the blocks last week and if he can keep that type of play going (except the slide tackle) then Steel FC should be just fine.
What to expect:
Wilmington has to travel from Salt Lake City back home after a very narrow loss to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night that saw them go to penalties. Coach Burke didn’t want to make that the biggest thing to come out of his press conference, but that undoubtedly will help Bethlehem. This should be another tight game between two teams looking to seperate themselves in the standings, but Steel FC might have that extra gas in the tank and come out of the North Carolina series with all six points.