Goals were hard to come by for Bethlehem Steel FC in games played in Leesburg yesterday and today.
The Steel scored a goal in stoppage time on Thursday in a 2-1 loss to USL Championship side Loudoun United and were held scoreless against USL League One team Richmond Kickers on Friday afternoon.
The losses brought Steel’s preseason record to 3-4-0 with another road game scheduled Sunday at in-state rivals Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Friday was the third time they’ve been shut out in preseason. Overall, they’ve been outscored 10-9 by opponents.
The lone goal scorer in the two games in Virginia wasn’t announced. Union Academy grad Issa Rayyan, who multiple sources have told us left Duke to sign a pro contract earlier this week, did play in the game on Thursday as a right wing back.
Academy players Kris Shakes and Cole Turner also played on Thursday along with rostered players Ben Ofeimu, James Chambers, Zach Zandi, Faris and Saed Diaz. Six trialists were listed as having played on Thursday.
Head coach Brendan Burke said on a call with reporters Thursday that the team was targeting 3-4 additional players not currently in camp to add to the roster. Steven Kingue
Burke said the team will likely end up with more than the league mandated 12 players on the roster for the season.
“Mainly because we’ve doubled down on our efforts to make sure that we get some of our [Union] Academy talents on the right track to their professional careers as well, sometimes a little sooner than we have in the past as well,” Burke said. “We need to supplement that with some guys that are ready to be exposed to this level. Some of those guys aren’t ready to be exposed to this level.”
The Steel’s preseason has looked very different than in previous years where they mostly stayed close to home and mixed scrimmages with local college teams with area USL opponents. They spent the first week of camp in Florida with the first team and put together a road trip to Virginia and Pittsburgh for this week.
“These are big opportunities to kind of bond the group together and harden the group,” Burke said. “All this time away affords us the ability to have individual meetings, set goals and talk to guys about what their experience has been like so far.”
The Steel open their regular season on the road at Birmingham Legion FC on March 9 before returning home to Talen Energy Stadium on March 16.