Fortunately or unfortunately, USL is moving to ESPN+ as of this weekend. While the jury is still very much out, if you sign up this weekend it’s a free month trial. Otherwise Service Electric or waiting a week for YouTube will be the way to watch. That or buying tickets of course. Anyway, on to the game.
Last year Steel managed to win both games against FC Cincinnati at Goodman Stadium, what initially was viewed as a fluke first win became potential divine intervention for the second match up followed by a good showing in a loss at Nippert. Fast forward a few months and maybe Cincy would have liked those six points back for seeding purposes? Either way these are two frustrated sides heading into Sunday’s 3 p.m. clash.
Neither team is thrilled about how their offense has looked recently. Bethlehem are at the very least scoring goals, with a returning Cory Burke finding one last weekend against the Battery, but they will be hard done by inability to take chances and turn them into goals, especially off the back of two very winnable games. Yes I’m aware that the first team has this exact same problem with not finishing off chances, no I don’t know why it happens for either. Cincy got blanked by Louisville City FC and while the Orange and Blue have won all three of their contests, 1-0 scorelines in all three isn’t exactly inspiring loads of confidence. It’ll be interesting to see if either team can start firing on all cylinders or if two underwhelming offenses are just going to be underwhelming together this weekend.
Doubt we’ll see nine
Bethlehem Steel used their (approximately) 900th lineup in as many games last weekend. What stuck out was that 9 out of the starting 11 were first team players. That being said until Friday night Mark McKenzie had much more USL experience and almost all of the guys in Bethlehem started on USL contracts. That being said, I think nine is going to be an exception and not the rule. Without knowing much about what to expect, Derrick Jones, Adam Najem, Fabian Herbers and Marcus Epps were out of the Union 18 on Friday so it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to see them in the Valley this weekend. Of course for an MLS 2 side that’s lacking the killing blow offensively, maybe it’s time to give the keys over to the USL guys in the attack for the second half or so. Wishful thinking probably but food for thought nonetheless.
Let’s remember some guys shall we? Corben Bone, Jimmy McLaughlin and Austin Berry. Austin actually retired at the end of last season and is now on the FC Cincinnati technical staff but Corben and Jimmy are still very much around and eligible to play against their former organization. Sure familiarity sometimes leads to predictability but on the other hand, sometimes guys find an extra gear against their old clubs. The history doesn’t stop there. Steel FC captain James Chambers might get a chance to face off against fellow countrymen Richie Ryan and Paddy Barrett. James and Richie have more then likely faced off many times over the five or so years they both played in the Irish top flight and while I don’t believe Chambers and Barrett have faced off, that Irish football community is tight knit so I’m sure they’re familiar.
-The guys at Cincy Soccer Talk kill it with their coverage every week. Bryan had me back on to sit down and chat Cincy vs Bethlehem and you can listen to that right here.
Staying consistent with that podcast I have this as a 1-1 draw. I think Cincy are an 18-man-deep side with each position being one of honest-to-god USL depth but I don’t see enough seperating these two sides this early in the season.