Match: Bethlehem Steel FC @ Richmond Kickers
Date: Saturday June 25th
Venue: City Stadium, Richmond, VA
Referees: Ref: Matthew Franz AR1: Benjamin Wooten AR2: Jeffrey Skinker 4th: Jordan Gray
All time record: 1-0-0
For only the second time this year, Bethlehem Steel FC will play an opponent they have actually seen before. There’s something to be said about that. Brendan Burke was conscious of the fact that while Steel FC might have the advantage of knowing what they are walking into, Richmond have the same film that they do. Last time out these teams played a pretty back and forth affair, with Bethlehem coming out on top thanks to goals from Eric Ayuk and Derrick Jones. Getting results from road games are paramount to standings success in this league, and if Bethlehem want to make a late season surge (spoiler: they think it would be pretty fun) they’re going to have to take what they can away from Goodman Stadium.
What Richmond will look like:
Brian Ownby. They will try and look like a lot of Brian Ownby. Sure, Yudai Imura is dangerous, and I like what I’ve seen from Matthew Delicate, but Brian Ownby is the big manufacturer of offense for the Richmond team. Brendan Burke doesn’t want this to be the Brian Ownby show, given that he coached him and has pretty intimate knowledge of how the lightning fast striker can burn a defense. However, this team hasn’t made the playoffs 13 years running on the success of one player at a time alone. This is a USL perennial powerhouse, and the roster is full of guys from every major league in the United States. There’s few teams that have this kind of talent in the league, and Richmond will look to kindly take advantage of that.
What Bethlehem will look like:
Not to be "that guy" but a large majority of the academy players that we usually see are with the academy in Frisco, Texas right now. This should be a very "USL-heavy" roster if what coach Burke said is true. Eric Ayuk is back in training (with the first team) but as of writing this (Thursday the 23rd at about 7pm) I have no idea where the Cameroonian International will be. Elsewhere, it’ll be interesting to see how the left and right flanks develop for Bethlehem. Seku Conneh scored a beautiful goal last week against Wilmington, and even though left wing isn’t his natural position, Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke really sees some promise in that role for the young Liberian. Samir Badr should man the goal posts again, and other than one mistake last week, he’s been unreal in net. Hopefully his back four (Auston Trusty probably included, he’s still here in Pennsylvania) will be able to offer enough of a challenge for an otherwise dangerous Richmond attack.
What to expect:
Hopefully more of the same as the last two road trips for Bethlehem. If Steel FC can come out and play their game, they should pick up at least a point against a formidable Richmond team. Look for Seku Conneh and Cory Burke to link up well on the attack, and keep your eyes on Auston Trusty, the 17 year old wunderkind, all match if you’re just checking out this team for the first time. Predictions are a horrible thing to make, but for the sake of looking stupid later, I’ll say the final score will be Bethlehem Steel FC 3- Richmond Kickers 2 in a match that starts out slow but ends with a bang.