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Match preview: Bethlehem Steel FC vs. Ottawa Fury

Steel face the former NASL club tonight in Bethlehem.

Jamie Heim / Bethlehem Steel FC

Match: Bethlehem Steel FC vs Ottawa Fury

Date: Sunday, June 4th

Time: 5:00 PM Eastern

Refs: REF: Mark Kadlecik AR1: Victor Vazquez AR2: Brian Dipaolo 4TH: Patrick Casey

Stream:

Steel All Time vs Ottawa: (0-0-0)

What the Fury will look like:
Ottawa is one of the new kids in town, jumping ship from the NASL to the USL in the off-season. Founded in 2011 but debuting in 2014 (in the PDL), Ottawa had some moderate success in NASL, challenging the New York Cosmos for the 2015 Soccer Bowl in a losing effort. All that to say, the rumors in the fall were true, with Ottawa moving over to USL and actually becoming the affiliate club the Montreal Impact.

Ottawa didn’t make as many headlines as the other NASL to USL club (Tampa Bay Rowdies) but have assembled a pretty solid squad nonetheless. Fielding an experienced team, with a few signings in the off-season that have valuable USL experience, Ottawa is probably better than they show in the standings. They snapped up former Rochester Rhino and Austin Aztex Lance Rozenboom as well as fellow former Rhino (they didn’t overlap in case you’re curious) Steevan Dos Santos. Dos Santos is probably the biggest name that Fury have on the field, with the Cape Verde striker being a threat from everywhere on the field. That being said, they have fringe Canadian National Team members Callum Irving and Eddie Edward, who help solidify the Fury at the back. Former Newcastle United/Norwich/Wigan/Houston Dynamo forward Paul Dalglish coaches the side, and while he has an impressive pedigree, he won the USL PDL Coach of the Year in 2013. He knows how to get the most out of his players and will look to do that when he plays Bethlehem for the first time tomorrow.

What Steel will look like:
After finally, finally beating Harrisburg 3-1 last weekend, Bethlehem look to end their three game home stand with a big win to distance themselves from Ottawa in the standings. Steel FC looked about as good as they have this year against the City Islanders, and might be a handful for a team that just played Toronto FC in a domestic cup midweek. Chris Nanco should be available, at least as a bench option, so expect Santi Moar to fill his place if Nanco isn’t up to starting. The lineup probably will change tomorrow from the HCI game, but it should still be the same core of guys. Ottawa has been absolutely banging in goals, but they haven’t played a team with the likes of Jake McGuire in net as well as a combination of USL level or higher defensemen. Steel FC full backs Aaron Jones and Matt Real (who is signed to the club, even though he graduated from the Academy yesterday) have been standouts, with Harrisburg even going out to attack Real, who was forward a good bit but his average position wasn’t much farther past the halfway line. James Chambers got off the block in the goal column against the in-state rivals, and I’ll say it again, but Chris Nanco will score before the end of June. Seku Conneh is hitting his stride and Cory Burke has found his home in the wide channels of the field. Dawson McCartney has been a big surprise (for me at least) and I’d look for him to have a big impact this weekend as well. Sure it’s a bit worrying that Ottawa has scored seven goals in their last two matches, but the Steel backline has been solid lately.

Predictions are futile but I’ll go with a Bethlehem win 3-2.