Match: Bethlehem Steel FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Date: Saturday, July 15th, 2017
Time: 5:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 p.m. Central, 2:00 p.m. Pacific, 9:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Murray H Goodman Stadium, Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pa.)
Refs: REF: Lorant Varga AR1: Mark Treilman AR2: Bernard Shumbusho 4TH: Matthew Schultheis
How Pittsburgh will look: Shameless plug but I was actually on Mongoals (Riverhounds podcast) this week so for a super in depth discussion about PGHvBST, go here. That being said, Pittsburgh have been a very odd team this year. Corey Hertzog started the year off strong, picking up six goals early on in the season. When Hertzog wasn’t firing on all cylinders, Kay Banjo and more recently Chevy Walsh and Romeo Parkes (yes, that one) have picked up the slack. Though with Hertzog hitting the bar more often than not and Parkes lacking effectiveness, Pittsburgh presents more questions than answers. This year the Hounds have picked up some encouraging results, like the 2-0 win over Tampa Bay as well as a 2-1 win over Charleston. Of course then they’ve also had a few games that they would like another shot at, like their 2-1 loss against Richmond or the 0-0 against Harrisburg.
Pittsburgh seems to be playing up to teams, as well as playing down. Not only that, they have evolved into playing two different styles. Playing at home sees the Hounds average around 45-50 percent possession, with some flashy soccer and good chances. Maybe it’s the atmosphere or the familiarity of the playing surface, but Pittsburgh are usually a decent bet to get points at home. Recently however on the road Pittsburgh kind of goes into a bit of a shell, generally sending fewer players forward (usually just the striker tandem) and crowding up the center of the box. They play a bit of an unfavored 4-4-2, with plenty of attacking prowess to back that two striker system up, but you can’t help but wonder if that leaves them vulnerable on the defensive side of things.
What Steel should look like: I’ll just wait to fill this out Sunday morning, I guess. In a season and a half of covering this team, I’ve never been this “I don’t really know”. The Philadelphia Union take on Swansea City on Saturday, which might mean a lot of Bethlehem’s first team regulars (Jake McGuire, Marcus Epps, Adam Najem even) could see some playing time in that friendly. Couple that with Mark McKenzie and Justin McMaster already in the Carolinas at Wake Forest and I have even less of an idea. Enter the Academy. I’ll wager that Tomas Romero gets a start, and whatever combination of Anthony Fontana/Dawson McCartney/Issa Rayyan hell, even Tiger Graham are around, they could start or fill out the 18. Obviously the USL guys will stay put, so James Chambers ability to lead a team and create some offense is going to be vital to keep that streak going. Brendan Burke also said that everyone who has been out should be available this weekend, so don’t be surprised to see Seku Conneh and Chris Wingate play in some capacity as well.
Prediction: I said Steel to win 2-1 on Mongoals (seriously, give it a listen, those guys are awesome) and I’ll stick with that here. There’ll be some surprises from the Academy this weekend for sure, and here’s hoping they’re good ones.