Philadelphia Union II
Philadelphia Union II is an American professional soccer team based in Chester, Pennsylvania. Founded in 2015, the team plays in the USL Championship as the official affiliate of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. Its colors are navy blue, gold, and red. The club was formerly based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and known as Bethlehem Steel FC.
|Full name||Philadelphia Union II|
|Founded||2015, as Bethlehem Steel FC|
|Interim Head Coach||Marlon LeBlanc|
|2019||16th, Eastern Conference|
Since the formalized partnership between United Soccer League and Major League Soccer in 2013, MLS teams had begun to form and field their own teams on the then third tier. This endeavor was largely driven to fill in the missing piece of player development between high school/college players and professional soccer players. In June 2015, the Philadelphia Union sent out a survey to fans gauging interest in fielding their own USL team. The survey input and directives from the Union front office eventually led to the creation of a team that would play in the Lehigh Valley, officially announced on August 19, 2015. This announcement made the Union the ninth MLS team to independently own and operate a USL club. The announcement also coincided with dissolving the previous affiliation with USL side Penn FC (formally Harrisburg City Islanders), originally established in 2010. After surveying fans for a name of the team, the results ended overwhelmingly in favor of “Bethlehem Steel FC” honoring the previous incarnation of the team in the early twentieth century. Bethlehem Steel FC would become the “missing link” of player development between YSC Academy and first team for the Philadelphia Union. The club began to take shape hiring former Union assistant coach, Brendan Burke as the first head coach of the team's history on October 29, 2015. On December 3, 2015, Burke made his first signing to the team in Derrick Jones, who was a player developing in the Union Academy.
First seasons (2016–2018)Edit
In preparation of their inaugural season, Steel FC built a roster with a combination of USL veterans (Mickey Daly, Ryan Richter, Bolu Akinyode), Philadelphia Union draft picks (Josh Yaro, Fabian Herbers), and key international players (James Chambers, Cory Burke). This team would be largely supported by Union players on short-term loans in addition to academy players from YSC Academy. The team's first season saw glimpses of positives but ultimately struggled down the stretch of the season, going winless in their last 12 matches.
On January 5, 2017, the United States Soccer Federation granted USL provisional Division II status; making the 2017 season the first time the Steel FC would compete as a Division II team. Steel built on their inaugural season continuing to integrate more amateur players from YSC Academy and other young players. The emergence of Seku Conneh and Cory Burke as reliable scoring threats helped Steel FC double their previous season's win total, finished 8th in the Eastern Conference and earned their first playoff appearance.
In 2018, Steel FC took another step forward with their best season to date, setting a record earning 50 points and 14 wins. Steel FC finished 6th in the Eastern Conference and won their first playoff match against in-state rivals Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Advancing to the Conference Semi-finals, Steel FC ultimately lost to eventual 2018 USL Champions, Louisville City FC.
Relocation and rebranding (2019–present)Edit
At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Bethlehem Steel announced that it would play the 2019 season at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania; home of Steel's MLS parent club, Philadelphia Union. The relocation was prompted due to Goodman Stadium not having stadium lighting, limiting the scheduling possibilities and being in non-compliance with USL requirements. The team front office has pledged to continue seeking out potential venue solutions that meet the USL Championship requirements for the 2020 season.
Colors and badgeEdit
On October 27, 2015, Bethlehem Steel FC's name, crest, and colors were officially announced during a ceremony held at the ArtsQuest at SteelStacks. "Steel FC" alludes to the historical Bethlehem Steel F.C., which played from 1907 to 1930. The origin of the clubs' name is the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, which was once America's second-largest steel producer and largest shipbuilder and was important to the economy of the area. The name was chosen following a fan poll held between September 8, 2015 and September 28, 2015; the other three options were Lehigh Valley Steel SC, Lehigh Valley Blast, and Steel FC.
The colors of Bethlehem Steel FC are navy blue and gold, and red, combining the primary colors of both the original Bethlehem Steel F.C. and the Philadelphia Union. The team's crest is elongated, representing the foundation of a new player development program and extension of the Union brand. Its gold rivets symbolize the relationship between the Bethelehem and Philadelphia clubs. The Union's rattlesnake alludes to the "Join, or Die" political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin that was featured in the 1754 Pennsylvania Gazette, and is also reminiscent of the Gadsden flag, another Revolutionary icon. The red beam in the middle of the crest is a tribute to the original logo of Bethlehem Steel F.C.
Before sponsoring a team in the USL, the Philadelphia Union commemorated the original Bethlehem Steel F.C. once before. In February 2013, the club unveiled a third kit with Steel F.C.'s colors, featuring a black jersey with white trim, a sublimated Union logo, and a Steel F.C. jock tag.
|Period||Kit Manufacturer||Shirt Sponsor||Ref|
|2016–2018||Adidas||Lehigh Valley Health Network|||
|2020–present||Sun East Federal Credit Union|||
|2016–2018||Goodman Stadium||Bethlehem, PA||16,000|
|2019–present||Subaru Park||Chester, PA||18,500|
USL began regularly broadcasting all league matches on the USL YouTube channel. Home match broadcasting is provided live by Service Electric where Play-by-play announcing covered by Dave Leno with color commentary by former Philadelphia Union player, Matt Kassel.
After announcing the creation of Bethlehem Steel FC, a supporters collaboration was soon formed. Largely organized through Facebook, the official supporters group emerged as the East End Army. The East End Army support the team from the lower bowl section of Goodman Stadium, dubbed "the Forge." The official pub partner for Philadelphia Union II is Golazo House located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia Union II is one of three USL teams in Pennsylvania, the others being Penn FC and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Since the 2015 season, Penn FC (formerly Harrisburg City Islanders) and Riverhounds compete for the Keystone Derby Cup, which currently excludes Bethlehem Steel FC.
Players and staffEdit
The Philadelphia Union II squad is composed of an unrestricted number of first-team players on loan to the reserve team, players signed by Union II, and Philadelphia Union Academy players. Academy players who appear in matches with Union II retain their college eligibility. Union Academy product Derrick Jones was the first player signed by Steel FC on December 3, 2015.
- As of September 30, 2020
|37||Midfielder||Selmir Miscic ([B])||United States|
|38||Midfielder||Zach Zandi ([B])||United States|
|39||Midfielder||David Rabadán (on loan from Atlético Albacete)||Spain|
|40||Midfielder||Issa Rayyan ([B])||United States|
|44||Defender||Ben Ofeimu ([B])||United States|
|60||Defender||Nathan Harriel ([A][B])||United States|
|63||Forward||Shanyder Borgelin ([B])||Haiti|
- For details on former players, see All-time Bethlehem Steel FC roster.
|Head Coach||Marlon LeBlanc||United States|
|Assistant Coach||Stephen Hogan||Ireland|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Gavin McInerney||Ireland|
|Athletic Trainer||Akira Umeki||Japan|
Coaching and Technical Staff as of February 12, 2020
This list includes all those who have managed the club since 2016, when the club joined United Soccer League for the first time, whether coaching on a full-time or interim basis. Games played include all League, Playoff, and the win percentage is calculated from the total of games.
- Figures correct as of August 5, 2020. Includes all competitive USL and playoff matches. Playoff matches decided by penalties officially recorded as draws.
M = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost;
|Brendan Burke||USA||October 29, 2015||February 12, 2020||133||40||33||57||30.1%||First Head Coach|
|Sven Gartung||GER||February 12, 2020||August 5, 2020||5||0||1||4||00.0%|
|Marlon LeBlanc (interim)||USA||August 5, 2020||present||1||1||0||0||100.0%|
|Top scorer||Average attendance|
|2016||30||28||6||10||14||11th, Eastern||25th||Did not qualify|| Ryan Richter
|2017||32||44||12||8||12||8th, Eastern||17th||Conference Quarterfinals||Seku Conneh||10||3,052||N/A|
|2018||34||50||14||8||12||6th, Eastern||14th||Conference Semifinals|| Santi Moar
|2019||34||31||8||7||19||16th, Eastern||32nd||Did not qualify||Faris Pemi Moumbagna||11||478||N/A|
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- "Lehigh University | Goodman Stadium". Lehigh University. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
- "About Talen Energy Stadium". Philadelphia Union. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
- "Supporters". Archived from the original on 2016-09-27. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
- "Golazo House named official pub partner of Bethlehem Steel FC". February 14, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
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- "Coaching and Technical Staff". Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-05-08.