Bethlehem Steel square off against Charleston a week after a strange affair against Nashville that left both clubs with just as many questions as answers.
No Aubrey, maybe a problem?
After one of those mental mistakes that he’s looking to get rid of, and a bit of a harsh call from the official, Brandon Aubrey is out this weekend after a red card. Aside from his 3-minute cameo blunder against Nashville, Aubrey had been rock solid since joining Steel from Toronto in the offseason, even getting some reps for the Union this week. That being said, he’s stil out this weekend. There’s a chance we see Ben Ofeimu from the Academy pair with AJ Paterson in a super makeshift but incredibly interesting center back pairing. We might also get Josh Yaro coming back from injury or Matt Mahoney sliding over to center back again. We won’t know until tomorrow. Brendan Burke and the Steel FC players are used to makeshift lineups so this shouldn’t faze everyone too much, but Aubrey being unavailable is a big loss regardless.
Charleston look.. Not great
Charleston’s last three matches are a 5-2 drubbing by the Baby Bulls, a 1-0 win against Penn FC and a 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati to open the campaign. While those results aren’t going to send anyone in a panic the Battery haven’t been super disciplined. Quentin Griffith got shown a red after a stoppage time shoving match with Cincy’s Danni Konig, and Patrick Okonkwo showed a Penn FC defender (looks like Tiago Calvano) his elbow to get ejected late on in that fixture. Both these cards were in the twilight of the respective matches, but having those sorts of problems early on in the season isn’t an admirable trait. Also, the club has gone through a pretty substantial amount of turnover. Head coach Michael Anhauser is still at the helm but gone are Forrest Lasso, Maikel Chang, Justin Portillo, Heviel Cordoves and most importantly Romario Williams. Simply put, that’s more then half their goals last year up and gone. Replacements include a pretty sneaky signing in Vic Mansaray (former Seattle Sounder) and a massive beast of a forward in Ian Svantesson. Charleston hit Red Bull II for two goals (both from Brian Anunga) but will surely look for Svantesson on set pieces and crosses on Sunday.
Strong defense again
Bethlehem had an incredible second half defensive performance against Nashville. Matt Mahoney and Prosper Chiluya both played the offside trap well, Jake McGuire had some good stops and honestly Steel probably deserved a point. If they can play their lines tight and avoid a slow start again, there’s no reason they don’t come out on top ahead of a massive clash against Cincy at home. We saw what early season wins can do for a tight playoff race, so grabbing everything you can early on is vital.
Things I did this week: Just the USL Show, which you can check out here.
Prediction: Steel win 2-1.