Match: Bethlehem Steel FC at Charleston Battery
Date: Saturday, September 10th
Time: 7:30pm EST
Venue: MUSC Health Stadium (Charleston, South Carolina)
Referees: REF- Aleksandar Zhelyazkov AR1- Brian Marshall AR2- Benjamin Hall-Volpenhein 4TH- Jack Schultz
Steel FC all time record: 0-0-1
Yeah, thanks to Wilmington on Wednesday, Bethlehem can still edge in a spot to the playoffs. Bethlehem getting a win here (their first since July 14) would see them two points off Orlando City B, who just so happen to be in Bethlehem on the last week of the season. Meanwhile, Charleston has already punched their ticket in and a win against Bethlehem could see the Battery vastly improve their own standing, so they won’t be sitting back and seeing this one out.
What the Battery will look like:
Fresh off a mid-week fixture in Montreal, Charleston turned off on a long ball in the box for the first FC Montreal goal before they just got incredibly unlucky on a wonderstrike from Jimmy-Shammar Sanon. Charleston will look to secure a playoff spot somewhere between three and five, and their overall pace will look to dodge the muscle of Steel FC. Romario Williams is dangerous up top, netting nine goals and being a general nuisance to other defenses with some quick runs and deceptive strength. Defensively, Shawn Ferguson and Taylor Mueller are the pairing that has Charleston where they are. Assuming they both play this weekend, the duo will have over 4000 minutes this year combined. In a league with a lot of moving parts, that kind of stability is such an advantage for a team to have. They also haven’t been bad on set pieces either, Mueller has three goals with Ferguson netting one himself.
What Steel FC will look like:
Well, Matt Perrella is going to start, with either one of the academy goalies serving as a backup (or Matt Jones if he’s back). With the release/mutual termination/other of Samir Badr it looks like we’ll see Perrella the rest of the year - and who knows, he might even be the first true number one for Bethlehem next year. Cory Burke and Seku Conneh are both back! International play has been a good lift for some guys before (see: Trusty, Auston) for Bethlehem Steel FC and hopefully the return of two big names for Brendan Burke’s side see the offense grab some goals in South Carolina.
Elsewhere, the kids have been impressive. Anthony Fontana looks right at home in the midfield next to Bolu/Heard and Chambers. Justin McMaster made some great runs and just couldn’t quite handle a touch or two or else he would’ve been in on goal last week against New York. Anyway you cut it, Bethlehem has a huge stockpile of talent in the midfield which if nothing else has given us some hope for the future. They can make an impact over the next few weeks for sure, and if they can snag a goal or two, even better.
I still hate predictions with a passion, but because I like being wrong every week I’ll make one. Bethlehem finally finally get a win that they’ve had coming by a score of 2-0 this weekend to really get back into the hunt for the eight spot.