Match: Bethlehem Steel FC v. Orlando City B
Date: Sunday, September 25th 3:00pm EST
Venue: Goodman Stadium
Officials: REF- Rafal Siudjik AR1- Dustin Killick AR2- Terrance Mull 4th- Wojciech Gluszak
All time record vs OCB: 0-0-1
Bethlehem Steel FC played the first match in the USL regular season against FC Montreal on Friday, March 25th. Exactly six months later to the day Bethlehem get to end the USL regular season by playing Orlando City B. The lion cubs are still (by the time of writing they are at least) in a playoff spot, holding a one point lead over Wilmington who play Saturday night. Orlando gets to control their destiny here, with a win in the Lehigh Valley putting them in possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Bethlehem will look to win to play spoiler and end the season on a high note.
What OCB will look like:
Since the second half of the season started in July, Orlando City B has only won twice, getting back to back wins against Louisville City and Toronto FC II. They came out of the gate this year red hot but weren’t able to follow up early season success with anything substantial, and now they have to win on the final day of the season to punch a ticket. Michael Cox will be integral to the OCB attack, as his 11 goals are more than enough for the lead, although the cubs have another 13 players who have notched at least one goal. Academy standout Pierre Da Silva has been the set up man for his club, leading the team with five helpers on the year. Orlando plays a pretty attractive style of soccer, offering some good technical skill that will be a bit of a departure from the disciplined, counter attacking style that Pittsburgh put on display last week. They’ll surely come out swinging and Bethlehem will have to be wary of some sleek footwork of the visitors tomorrow night.
What Steel FC will look like:
For the first time this year, Steel FC will have to get used to life without (now former) captain Ryan Richter. Not only was the veteran right back a vital part of the development of many of the guys around him, he was the leading scorer for Bethlehem this season. With playoff contention now a thing of the past, Brendan Burke said last weekend that while they were certainly going to respect the league and OCB as opponents who are very much looking to play some post-season soccer, it was time to play the kids. Available from the Academy this weekend are Mark McKenzie, Matt Real, Justin McMaster and Anthony Fontana. McKenzie and Real can both play defensive positions (McKenzie has been getting reps at right back, so that would be a natural fit) and Fontana and McMaster have probably earned a start this weekend in a low risk game. Steel FC will probably give a start to Matt Perrella as well so we will get a look at 2017 Bethlehem well before that happens. Coach Burke will expect nothing but a strong showing from his side and if they can play spoiler to Orlando and hand Wilmington a playoff spot? All the better.
What to expect:
Youth in revolt! Blue and purple! Playoff implications! Probably a pretty good game really, given that these two teams put up two goals each in their previous meeting. Predictions are dumb so I’m just going to stop giving them.
Fine fine, uh, 3-2 Orlando.