Match: Bethlehem Steel FC @ Harrisburg City Islanders
Date: Saturday, April 15th
Venue: FNB Field
Officials: REF-Brandon Smith AR1- Jaroslaw Werel AR2- Melvin Holmes II 4TH- Terrance Mull
Steel All Time vs HCI (W-L-D): 0-2-1
What HCI will look like: Years of rather laughable front office decisions have plagued an otherwise well-coached and well-put-together soccer team. With the sale of the club to Capelli Sports, Harrisburg might finally be in a spot to focus on running a proper team.
The City Islanders suffered a few key losses in Keasel Broome, Bobby Warshaw, and Jose Barril, and they’ve loaned out Cardel Benbow to Jamaican side Portmore United as well. This had a lot of people thinking HCI was headed for the basement this year. However, they’ve stunned a few teams early on, picking up a 1-0 victory over defending USL Cup and USL Shield champions New York Red Bulls II.
Bill Becher is one of the best coaches in the league in terms of getting the most out of his players and as a result the new look City Islanders have played both their regular season games differently. They came out and pressed high against Richmond and sat back and countered the German influenced RBII attack last week. Aaron Wheeler gets high praise from everyone in the league and the Harrisburg attack pretty much relies on how often he can get touches and be impactful up top.
What Bethlehem will look like: After getting a win (an impressive one at that) against FC Cincinnati last week, Bethlehem will look to get their first victory ever against their intrastate rival.
Seku Conneh is coming off of a USL Player of the Week performance and he’ll look to give Harrisburg plenty of trouble. Cory Burke has been rejuvenated on the wing, making plenty of good runs and generally being a nuisance to opposing full backs. He’s too big to be played physically and too fast to be outpaced.
Instead of trying to guess who will play, I’ll throw some updates out about people who shouldn’t be available. Matt Real is close but not ready yet coming off of a hamstring injury. Former NYCFC draft pick Chris Wingate is just ahead of Real in terms of his timetable but he will not get to make his debut this weekend either. Tomas Romero isn’t back from El Salvador U-17 National Team duty yet either so expect Jake McGuire or Academy player Matt Freese in goal tonight.
Closing thoughts: “Begin as you mean to go on” is the cliche here. Both teams should be happy with where they are coming into this clash, which should lend itself to a good first meeting between the two clubs. I’ll say that Conneh stays hot and propels Steel FC to a 1-0 victory.