I don’t usually talk much about the various promos that Bethlehem Steel FC run. Maybe a fleeting sentence here and there, but at least in my head I put a lot of the work on marketing on the club itself to do (sorry guys). That being said, before I talk about the implications of this match Sunday night, let’s talk about Steel’s Go Gold match.
Bethlehem are going to be wearing special gold warm-ups as well as each player wearing an armband that will be auctioned off in a silent auction (starts at 2:00 pm, finishes at the 70th minute-cash or credit) during the match on the concourse, then signed by the player it corresponds to after the match. While that’s a nice way to get some signed swag from your favorite BSFC/potential Philadelphia Union player, what the club is teaming up with Lehigh Valley Health Network to do with the proceeds is awesome. Given that October is pediatric cancer awareness month and the color for that is yellow/gold, all proceeds from the auction go straight to the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Yes the match has big implications, but please, if nothing else, support a cause that’s way bigger than a big interstate Derby game that only lasts 90 minutes.
That being said, let’s touch on that soccer. Bethlehem have a good chance to right the ship for potentially a massive week in club history. According to the league itself, Steel beating Pittsburgh here increases their odds of a playoff berth to a pretty solid 86%. Bethlehem tend to play Pittsburgh well, especially at home and I would wager Brendan Burke won’t use as many Academy kids this time around. I’d expect big performances from Cory Burke and Jake McGuire, as well as a clutch performance from everyone’s favorite Irishman, James Chambers. Hugh Roberts also isn’t a stranger to big late season matches, so this locker room knows what they have to do. I also don’t want to bring up the “we didn’t get any points in the last month of the season last year” thing, but I will just so we all remember how awful that felt.
Let’s not pretend like the Hounds don’t have something to play for here. They’re tied for 9th with Steel and also happen to be one point back from a playoff spot. Pittsburgh’s biggest issue over this year has largely been identity. They’ve played some expansive, attacking soccer which made them incredibly fun to watch early in the year. Then they hit a weird skid of poor results that had our friends over at MonGoals questioning the entire organization top to bottom. Success heals wounds and for Hounds head coach Dave Brandt, a playoff birth would be a huge success. They have plenty of attacking options in Corey Hertzog, Kevin Kerr, Kay Banjo and Romeo Parkes but their somewhat slow (albeit organized) defense is a big question mark. On top of that former Steel goalkeeper Matt Perrella will make his return to Goodman and while he’s put together a good string of matches both with New Jersey Copa FC and more recently the Hounds themselves, it’ll be interesting to see if being back in a venue he had much less success in throws him off.
Steel have a great chance to start their next week off in the best possible way before a league cup-esque home and home against Tampa Bay. Those two matches will be massive, but for now, three points against Pittsburgh is the goal.