Match: Bethlehem Steel FC vs. FC Cincinnati
Date: Sunday, April 9th
Time: 4:00pm EST
Venue: Murray H Goodman Stadium
Officials: REF- Jorge Gonzalez AR1- Daniel Richman AR2- Kevin Lock 4TH- Lorant Varga
Steel All Time vs. FC Cincy (W-L-D): 0-2-0 (1-2 home loss, 0-1 away defeat)
What FCC will look like: Less than dynamic through the first two weeks of the season, FC Cincinnati are struggling to put forth the same kind of dominating results that we saw from them last year. That being said, with the amount of depth that they have and the amount of talent on their 18 man roster every week, it’s sooner rather than later. Talking to various folks out that way finds that the real worry for FCC is their defense. Former Union center back Austin Berry was in concussion protocol, and as a result is questionable (probably out from the sound of things) for Sunday’s tilt. Since joining the Lions last year Berry formed a staunch partnership with Australia’s world ender Harrison Delbridge. Delbridge is a damn good defender, but without his usual partner to fill in, Cincy is a bit nervous that they could get done for pace. That being said with Mitch Hildebrandt behind that back line in net, getting behind the defense is one thing, making it count is another.
What Steel will look like: After a barnstormer against Rochester that saw BSFC play some of their best soccer ever from about the 35th minute to the 70th, Bethlehem should pick up where they left off. Santi Moar needs to be involved early and often, and I’m still waiting for Adam Najem to find second gear. Seku Conneh is a great blend of pace and skill up top to try and unlock Cincy’s defense, with Cory Burke providing hold up play before slinking behind Conneh on the right wing. Chris Wingate should be given some minutes off the bench and ideally I think Wingate and Josh Heard patrol the center mid spots, giving Najem free reign to do whatever he’d like.
Goalkeeper is a bit of a challenge given that Tomas Romero is away with El Salvador’s U16 National Team. Expect to see Matt Freese in net and fellow Union Academy keeper Kris Shakes on the bench, as John McCarthy is still dealing with a concussion.
Predictions: This is a tough one to call, but Cincy’s defensive uncertainty and a good 40 minutes from Steel last week leave me feeling like Bethlehem come out on top 2-1 this week.
Not sure you agree? Let us know in the comments! Also, I did some work with Bryan Weigel from Cincy Soccer Talk that you can listen to here as well as a guest spot with Michael Walker from Orange and Blue Press/Last Word on Soccer that you can read over here!