Match: Bethlehem Steel FC vs. City Islanders FC
Date: Thursday, July 21st (4:00pm start)
Venue: Goodman Stadium (Bethlehem, PA)
Referees: REF: Elvis Mahmutovic AR1: Ryan Dos Reis AR2: Terrance Mull 4TH: Kevin Lock
Bethlehem’s All Time Record: 0-1-0
Meeting for the first time in late May, Harrisburg caught Bethlehem Steel FC flat footed and rode two Aaron Wheeler goals to a 3-1 victory. Wheeler won’t feature for Harrisburg so Bethlehem won’t have to contend with City Islander’s leading scorer in the return "Battle of I-76" up the road in Bethlehem.
What Harrisburg will look like:
The aforementioned long term injury to Aaron Wheeler will keep the big (literal and figurative) threat for CIFC out of tomorrow’s contest. Jose Barrill, who was in the youth system of a little club by the name of Real Madrid (a fact that gets brought up almost as much as Barrill does) has always been a threat, but really shined in the Islander’s 2-1 win over Pittsburgh. Before they defeated the Hounds, CIFC was on a massive nine game winless streak, which included losing eight of their last nine. They’ll look to recover with a bit of an upset win over their fellow Keystone State rivals.
What Bethlehem will look like:
I’ve been a bit unfair. Praising Auston Trusty and the rest of the Union Academy kids is well and good, but there’s a lot that goes into developing those guys. Ryan Richter is day in and day out one of the best players in USL. Mickey Daly is an undervalued center back that consistently has worked so well next to Richter and Trusty. James Chambers has evolved into arguably one of the most technically able, passionate players on the team and has really been influential on Derrick Jones (as has training around guys like Brian Carroll and Mo Edu) and Bolu Akinyode. Steel FC’s success as of late hasn’t just been because of a few guys, it’s been a group effort, and it’s paying off. A solid 2-0 win over Pittsburgh followed by a 3-0 decimation of Wilmington saw Bethlehem Steel FC have an aggregate score of 5-0 over the first two games of the home stand. They also happen to have a hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Steel FC owe it to themselves to come out swinging tomorrow afternoon, and if they play anywhere near the way they have since coming back to Goodman Stadium, they should get three points.
What to expect:
Derrick Jones keeps making the headlines, but the veterans keep the team on track as Bethlehem coasts to a decently easy, fundamental 2-1 win against Harrisburg on Thursday afternoon.