Match: Bethlehem Steel FC vs Rochester Rhinos
Date: Saturday, April 1
Time: 4:00pm EDT
Venue: Murray H Goodman Stadium, Lehigh University
Officials: REF-Jorge Ramirez AR1- Gjovalin Boli AR2- Joe Zawistowski 4TH- Michael Guzzetta
Record vs. Rochester (W-L-D): 0-0-2 (2-2 tie in Rochester, 1-1 tie in Bethlehem)
Both clubs open up a week late, because life isn’t fair and someone had to get the bye week right out of the gate. That being said, if the results last year are any indication, this could be one of the better games slated for this week in USL. There’s plenty of history between these two clubs, with seven Rhinos having links to the Union organization. Last year in their second meeting, Rochester midfielder Joe Farrell put home two goals and was more than happy to do that against his former employer. Look for a compact game that should prove to be a power struggle.
What Rochester will look like:
You hear it every year. Rhinos head coach Bob Lilley is known for playing an incredibly disciplined style defensively. Rochester sets this up so well at times that opposing teams feel like any offense they get is less of their own execution and more of a Rhinos defensive lapse. Rochester also lost their two key players in Christian Volesky (St Louis FC) and Steevan Dos Santos (Ottawa Fury) which might and probably will negatively impact their goal scoring efforts. Also it might be worth noting that former Philadelphia Union academy standouts Darius Madison and the aforementioned Joe Farrell are with the Rhinos, as well as a handful of other players who were with the club in various capacities. Only after 90 minutes will we see if the former kids can get one over on the organization that deemed them all surplus. Friend of the program Brendan Doherty talked about that for The Bent Musket and I’ll leave that article below.
How Bethlehem will look:
This should be a fun team. Only captain James Chambers and Jamaican International Cory Burke are past the age of 24, which should mean that the kids are going to get a chance to shine all year long. Nothing should change tactically. This is still a hybrid 4-5-1/4-3-3 that the Union deploy. That being said, Steel FC 2.0 look better constructed to use a target man. Add in potential loans of Adam Najem and Jack Elliott/Auston Trusty to pair with Hugh Roberts, and this team looks really attractive on paper. Winger Chris Nanco could be a vital part to unlocking the Rochester defense, and if Justin McMaster is on the other flank, Rochester might get burned for pace all game long.
In summation, this is going to be a close game. We’ll probably get another draw but I don’t think it’s out of the question to see either team sneak out with a win. For the sake of wanting to be positive, Cory Burke nets one or both goals in a Steel FC 2-1 win.
Thoughts before the opener? Who do you think the Union loan down? Let us know in the comments!