Bethlehem is going to be increasing their badger population this year. Joining from the University of Wisconsin by way of the recent MLS SuperDraft, Mike Catalano has inked a deal with Bethlehem Steel FC for the 2018 season.
Finding a perfect balance between destructive defensive presence and goal scoring machine, Catalano put together an incredible college career and fell to the Philadelphia Union in the third round (54th overall). Once he got to camp it was a matter of proving he could make the adjustment from the Big 10 to the USL and the 22-year-old central mid definitely proved he had what it took to get a deal.
During his college career, the Illinois native put up 19 goals and 5 assists in a little under 7,000 minutes, good enough for All Big-Ten honors twice, once in his freshman year and again for his stellar junior campaign. He also helped put Wisconsin back in the front of the Big 10 soccer discussion, helping to lead the Badgers last season to their first conference title since 1995. He also propelled his side to a Sweet 16 birth, where his two goals weren’t quite enough to push UW to the Elite 8 as they lost a 2-3 thriller to eventual College Cup participants Akron.
It’s also interesting to note he spent some time in 2015 with Union PDL affiliate Reading United . Surely his familiarity with the coaching staff helped him ease in to what has been a successful preseason so far.
“We are very happy to be adding a balanced central midfield player who showed that he can also contribute goals like he did at Wisconsin,” head coach Brendan Burke said in a news release. “Mike has impressed through these first four weeks of preseason and will be a valuable member of our squad this season.”
Mike in his own words on the deal: “It’s a very special moment to get to start a professional career with a great organization and get your foot in the door is not easy but something I’m excited to have an opportunity. It hasn’t really hit me yet with it still being preseason but I know that time will come soon. To say that you go to work and get to play soccer and do what you love, that isn’t something a lot of people can say they do. I’m lucky to be playing my childhood sport as a job and I can’t wait to bring a desire to win to the fans of Steel FC.”
Haven’t seen Mike yet? Steel FC host Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Sunday at 1 p.m. (updated start time so take note) at the Power Training Complex in Chester.