A week after celebrating their captain’s 100th appearance back at Goodman Stadium, the Bethlehem Steel will be without 32-year-old veteran James Chambers in their first ever meeting with Hartford Athletic.
Chambers is serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation so the team will be even younger tonight. They do get forward Faris — who has 10 goals across two seasons — back after sitting out a suspension for a dubious red card in the win over Saint Louis FC. Midfielder Cole Turner returned to the lineup last weekend after sitting out a long suspension from Development Academy play.
We’re headed up there without a full squad and it’s a difficult position to be in, but again we can’t revert to that, we can’t look at that,” head coach Brendan Burke said. “We have to look at it as a massive opportunity for the guys that are now going to be given their opportunity, are in the mix and have earned the right to put the shirt on from the start of the game.”
Hartford has had a challenging start to their inaugural season, but have come alive in recent weeks, earning six of their 10 total points in the last six matches.
“They are vastly improved over the last number of weeks and with that many experienced players in the mix, guys that have gone through Western Conference playoff runs with Jimmy (Nielson) before,” Burke said. “You’ve already seen the signs of them really tightening things up and getting consecutive results.”
The Steel are coming off a 2-1 loss to first play Tampa Bay, where they struggled in the first half but made a game of it late.
“Last week with Tampa with them being one of the best teams in the league I thought in the first half they really brought it to us, but I think our character really showed through in the second half,” Turner said. “We were really able to pin them back and I think if we go into Hartford with that same intensity then I think we’ll do fine.”
In addition to Chambers, the Steel will be without defender Jamoi Topey who is back in Philadelphia with Jamaica for Sunday’s Gold Cup quarterfinal. Saed Diaz is still out injured and Yomi Samuele Scintu is listed as questionable.
With the academy playoffs over, Burke has a core group of academy players available like Nathan Harriel, Jack de Vries, Patrick Bohui, Dante Huckaby and Axel Picazo, who has appeared in three straight games.
“He’s in contention to start; he’s working hard on both sides of the ball,” Burke said of Picazo. “His quality has always shown in spurts, but the mentality didn’t always show on both sides of the ball. That’s all I’m looking for to give a player an opportunity to move forward with us.”
How to Watch
When: June 28, 2019, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Conn.
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