Bethlehem Steel FC continues the second leg of its three-game June road trip when it makes the short trip to rival New York Red Bulls II on Friday, June 16. Kickoff from the MSU Soccer Park on the campus of Montclair State University is set for 7 p.m. and can be streamed online both on YouTube and on the club’s website along with locally on Service Electric.
Steel FC is coming off its second road victory of the season, rallying back in its first meeting against USL Eastern Conference newcomer Saint Louis FC, 2-1. After surrendering an early own goal, Steel FC battled back in the second half with goals from Seku Conneh and James Chambers. Conneh’s goal was his team-high seventh of the season and pushed the Liberian forward’s scoring streak to four goals in the last five matches. Conneh added an assist on the Chambers’ 25-yard game-winning goal that came in the 74th minute.
“I’m really proud of the guys for them to push through in that environment, it showed a lot of character,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “The general sentiment was that we could have played better soccer in the first half but that we corrected it in the second half. The second goal was the real showpiece for our ability to break their lines. You can’t get too much more out of a game on the road than we did in the second half.”
Friday night’s contest will be the fourth meeting with the defending USL Champions, with the rival Red Bulls II holding a 3-0-0 lead in the series. Steel FC is still in search of its first goal against the club, having been outscored 7-0 in 2016. Things could be different this time around as Steel FC sits only one point behind its rivals in the standings.
“They are very good at being systematic top to bottom as a club and that’s credit to their coaching and technical staff,” Burke said. “I think their biggest change this season has been the quality of some players compared to the players last season. When you look at Tyler Adams, Derrick Etienne, Alex Muyl and now those guys are eating first team minutes. It's working but its left the squad still very good and I still expect them to finish near the top of the Eastern Conference. We know we are walking into a dog fight anytime you play a Red Bulls team at any level.”
New York Red Bulls II will enter Friday’s match hungry for a victory at home after falling 3-0 to Louisville City FC on Sunday for its fourth home loss of the campaign. Louisville opened the scoring in the 25th minute on a goal from Kyle Smith and added second-half goals from Brian Ownby in the 55th and Richard Ballard in stoppage time. Overall, New York is 5-6-2 and ranks second in the conference with 22 goals scored but last with 26 goals conceded. Brandon Allen leads the club with seven goals scored, the same amount as Steel FC’s Conneh.