Match: Bethlehem Steel FC vs. Charlotte Independence
Date: Sunday, August 7th
Time: 4:00 PM
Venue: Goodman Stadium, Lehigh University
Referees: REF: Jose Carlos Rivero AR1: Jaroslaw Werel AR2: Kevin Lock 4th: Dustin Killick
Television: Service Electric 2 (Lehigh Valley only)
Bethlehem will have one final chance to gain momentum at home before a decently grueling away trip for the rest of August. They face an electric Independence attack, and will hope that the return of Auston Trusty is enough to solve some otherwise dire problems at the back for a team that otherwise might be in a playoff spot.
What Charlotte will look like:
The Independence are the only team in the league right now with three players on five goals or more. Caleb Calvert is on six, with Jorge Herrera and Enzo Martinez behind him with five. Charlotte will love their chances given Steel FC’s recent run of defensive form (not good), and even though they might be disappointed to only have picked up one point against Charleston, anything but a loss here is a big gain for the Independence. Charlotte went down inside of 15 minutes due to a great Cory Burke strike and never found their footing, leading to a 1-0 loss in North Carolina last time around. They’ll look to play a downhill game in the Lehigh Valley and put Bethlehem in the rear view mirror to the tune of 11 points.
What Bethlehem will look like:
Deja vu for Brendan Burke and BSFC. Nine games (a possible 27) points is it for Bethlehem and really, that means they’ll need at least seven wins (21/27 points) to make the playoffs in my opinion. This is the last home game until September 4th when world eaters/USL bullies NYRB II make the trip to Bethlehem. This team needs to figure out how to adapt to another new lineup this week given that Trusty will probably line up next to Bibbs, which is a new center defensive pairing. Offensively, this team needs to find the net consistently. Amoy Brown and Cory Burke need to put balls in the net with consistency, and I honestly wouldn’t mind a Fabian Herbers start or two given that Charlie Davies knocked him down to the number three striker. Steel FC need to focus on one game at a time for the next two months, but any direction other than forward might mean better luck next year for the playoff berth.
What to expect:
We might have a bit of a shootout on our hands. Both of these clubs can really turn it on offensively, so it might come down to which team opens the floodgates and which team closes them off. I’ll say Bethlehem comes out on the right side of a 3-2 result this week.