Bethlehem Steel FC will no longer be the name of the Philadelphia Union’s USL Championship team, the team announced on Thursday.
Following the example of Sporting Kansas City, which re-branded Swope Park Rangers as Sporting Kansas City II, the Union’s second team will go by the name Philadelphia Union II and will continue to play home games at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester.
The team played at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem from 2016 to 2018 and played one game there in 2019 but did so with a waiver from the league for not meeting standards for lighting.
“For the past several years, we have diligently explored numerous stadium options in the Lehigh Valley,” Chief Business Officer Tim McDermott said in a statement. “Unfortunately, there still is not a viable stadium solution that will meet the current stadium requirements for the USL Championship.”
McDermott added that changing the name “appropriately reflects our player development pathway.”
Playing primarily in Chester, but also hosting games at La Salle University and one at Goodman Stadium, the Steel finished last in attendance in the USL Championship in 2019, averaging 478 fans a game. On the field, the team finished 16th in the Eastern Conference with a W-D-L record of 8-7-19 after back-to-back playoff berths in 2017 and 2018.
“This change further strengthens the bridge from youth to the pros within the Union family and gives academy players and young prospects the chance early on to wear the Union colors and prove they are ready to play for the badge at a first team level,” Sporting Director Ernst Tanner said in a statement.
The full USL Championship League schedule will be released at a later date.