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Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem Steel FC 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. Brendan Burke is the head coach.

Bethlehem Steel FC
Bethlehem Steel FC logo.svg
Full nameBethlehem Steel FC
Founded2015 (4 years ago) (2015)
StadiumTalen Energy Stadium
Chester, Pennsylvania
Capacity18,500
OwnerKeystone S&E
Head CoachBrendan Burke
LeagueUSL Championship
201916th, Eastern Conference
Playoffs: DNQ
WebsiteClub website
Current season

HistoryEdit

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.[1] 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.[2] 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 Cityislanders), originally established in 2010.[3] 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.[4] Bethlehem Steel FC would become the “missing link” of player development between the 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.[5] On December 3, 2015, Burke made his first signing to the team in Derrick Jones, who was a player developing in the Union Academy.[6]

Inaugural season–2018Edit

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.[7] 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.[8] Steel built on their inaugural season continuing to integrate more amateur players from YCS 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.[9]

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.[10]

2019–presentEdit

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 league requirements. The team front office has pledged to continue seeking out potential venue solutions that meet the USL Championship requirements for the 2020 season.[11][12]

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.[4] 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.[13]

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.[14][15][16][17][18]

In 2016, the crest earned a third place recognition for "2016 Primary Logo of the Year."[19]

SponsorshipEdit

Period Kit Manufacturer Shirt Sponsor Ref
2016–2018 Adidas Lehigh Valley Health Network [20]
2019–present

FacilitiesEdit

StadiumEdit

 
Lehigh's Murray H Goodman Stadium

Bethlehem Steel FC plays home matches at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, also home to the Philadelphia Union. Previously, they played matches at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem for three seasons.

Period Stadium Location Capacity
2016–2018 Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA 16,000[21]
2019–present Talen Energy Stadium Chester, PA 18,500[22]

Training facilityEdit

Bethlehem Steel FC practices at the training fields next to Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania, where the Union play their home games.

BroadcastingEdit

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.

Club cultureEdit

SupportersEdit

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.[23] The East End Army support the team from the lower bowl section of Goodman Stadium, dubbed "the Forge." The official pub partner for the Bethlehem Steel FC is Golazo House located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.[24]

RivalriesEdit

Bethlehem Steel FC 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.[25]

PlayersEdit

 
The Bethlehem squad in a huddle

The Bethlehem Steel FC squad is composed of an unrestricted number of first-team players on loan to the reserve team, players signed by Steel FC, and Philadelphia Union Academy players. Academy players who appear in matches with Steel FC retain their college eligibility. Union Academy product Derrick Jones was the first player signed by Steel FC on December 3, 2015.[6]

Current rosterEdit

For details on former players, see All-time Bethlehem Steel FC roster.

Where a player has not declared an international allegiance, nation is determined by place of birth. Squad correct as of March 17, 2019.

No. Position Player Nation
35 Forward Faris   Cameroon
36 Forward Saed Díaz (on loan from Tauro)   Panama
37 Midfielder Selmir Miscic   United States
38 Midfielder Zach Zandi   United States
39 Midfielder Chavany Willis (on loan from Portmore United)   Jamaica
40 Midfielder Issa Rayyan   United States
41 Forward Yomi Scintu   Germany
42 Defender Jamoi Topey (on loan from Cavalier)   Jamaica
43 Defender Steve Kingue (on loan from Nfuko Academy)   Cameroon
44 Defender Ben Ofeimu   United States
45 Midfielder James Chambers   Ireland
47 Defender Walter Cortés (on loan from Saprissa)   Costa Rica
49 Goalkeeper Todd Morton   United States
63 Forward Shanyder Borgelin   Haiti
  1. ^ Signed to first team contract with Philadelphia Union.
  2. ^ Philadelphia Union Academy player.

Coaching staffEdit

Position Staff Nation
Head Coach Brendan Burke   United States
Assistant Coach Stephen Hogan   United States
Goalkeeping Coach Phil Wheddon   United States
Athletic Trainer Akira Umeki   Japan

Coaching and Technical Staff as of January 15, 2018[26]

Head coachesEdit

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 November 22, 2018. Includes all competitive USL and playoff matches

M = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost;

Name Nat From To M W D L Win % Notes
Brendan Burke   USA October 29, 2015 present 99 33 26 40 33.3% First Head Coach

RecordsEdit

Year-by-yearEdit

Year League Standings USL
Cup Playoffs
Top scorer Average attendance
GP Pts W T L Conf. Overall Nat. Name Goals Regular
season
USL Cup
playoffs
2016 30 28 6 10 14 11th, Eastern 25th Did not qualify  
 
Ryan Richter
Derrick Jones
5 2,573 N/A
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
Michee Ngalina
6 2,347 N/A
2019 34 8 7 19 12 16th, Eastern 32nd Did not qualify   Faris Pemi Moumbagna 11 478 N/A

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Union sends out survey to gauge interest in USL team".
  2. ^ "Philadelphia Union and USL announce expansion team in Bethlehem, Pa., for 2016 season".
  3. ^ "Harrisburg City Islanders and Philadelphia Union Agree to Dissolve Five-Year Exclusive Partnership". Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  4. ^ a b "Press release". October 27, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  5. ^ "Bethlehem Steel FC names Brendan Burke manager". October 28, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Bethlehem Steel FC Sign Union Academy Product Derrick Jones". Philadelphia Union. December 3, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
  7. ^ Tom Via II (November 30, 2016). "Foundation laid in inaugural season poinsed to pay dividends for Bethlehem Steel FC". Bethlehem Steel FC. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  8. ^ "U.S. Soccer Board of Directors Grants Provisional Division II Status to NASL and USL". U.S. Soccer. January 6, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  9. ^ Chris Hockman (December 1, 2017). "Year in Review – Bethlehem Steel FC". USL Soccer. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  10. ^ Rob Simmons (November 14, 2018). "Season review: The Bethlehem Steel experiment". The Philly Soccer Page. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  11. ^ Tim McDermott (November 12, 2018). "Statement from Tim McDermott, Philadelphia Union Chief Business Officer". Bethlehem Steel FC. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  12. ^ Matthew Ralph (November 15, 2018). "Lehigh Valley-based fans aren't happy with Steel FC's 2019 move to Chester". Brotherly Game. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  13. ^ "Philadelphia Union open fan vote for USL team name". October 27, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  14. ^ "Jersey Week: Union pay homage to Bethlehem Steel with retro 3rd shirt". MLSsoccer.com.
  15. ^ "Philadelphia Union honors Bethlehem Steel soccer club on new jerseys". lehighvalleylive.com.
  16. ^ "Bethlehem, PA Patch - Breaking News, Local News, Events, Schools, Weather, Sports and Shopping". Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Philadelphia Union unveil new third jersey, inspired by Bethlehem Steel". Philly.com.
  18. ^ "Todo Sobre Camisetas: Philadelphia Union Adidas Third Jersey 2013". todosobrecamisetas.blogspot.com.ar.
  19. ^ "Bethlehem Steel FC Grabs the Bronze for Best New Primary Logo". Bethlehem Steel FC. December 22, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  20. ^ "Bethlehem Steel FC Announce Partnership With Lehigh Valley Health Network". Philadelphia Union. March 27, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  21. ^ "Lehigh University | Goodman Stadium". Lehigh University. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  22. ^ "About Talen Energy Stadium". Philadelphia Union. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  23. ^ "Supporters".
  24. ^ "Golazo House named official pub partner of Bethlehem Steel FC". February 14, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  25. ^ "2016 Keystone Derby will be sponsored by PA Lottery, exclude Bethlehem Steel". PENN97. February 25, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  26. ^ "Coaching and Technical Staff".

External linksEdit