Bethlehem Steel FC’s roster promises to be even younger in 2019 — especially after the Philadelphia Union traded away all five of their draft picks — but veteran midfielder James Chambers will be back in the mix to lead the group on and off the field.
The 31-year-old Irishman has signed on for another season with the Steel, which will be his fourth.
“We are excited to welcome James back to Bethlehem this season. He is a relentless, strong and versatile player with the capacity to lead by example when his teammates need him most,” Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner said in a statement. “The leadership and energy that James brings to the club are instrumental to the Steel and we look forward to having him as a role model on and off the field once again.”
The Dublin, Ireland native has made 84 appearances since joining the team in their inaugural season from League of Ireland club St. Patricks Athletic and has scored 13 goals, none bigger than his extra time equalizer from the spot in the 2018 USL Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The Steel ended up advancing on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the match.
“James is a very important piece of our project and re-signing him was our top priority this off-season,” Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said in the news release. “His leadership qualities, competitive drive and skill set make him invaluable to us.”
Chambers is currently coaching in the Union Pre-Academy and is frequently mentioned by academy players as a mentor for the guidance and leadership he shows young players both on and off the field. He’ll be the only player on a USL contract in the team’s first season still with the team and one of just three players still in the organization (Derrick Jones was the first Steel FC signing before signing a first team homegrown deal and Cory Burke was on loan with Steel the first season).
Chambers signing brings the 2019 Steel FC roster to six with recent signing Zach Zandi, on-loan Panama youth international striker Saed Diaz, midfielders Selmir Miscic and Michee Ngalina and forward Faris.