Bethlehem Steel FC finishes June with its final match of its three-game road trip with a short drive to in-state rival Harrisburg City Islanders on Tuesday, June 20. Kickoff from FNB Field 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 in the midst of a four-match unbeaten streak after defeating defend USL Champions and rival New York Red Bulls II, 2-0. Philadelphia Union midfielder Adam Najem put on a spectacular performance against his former organization, scoring the first professional goal of his career while adding an assist on the club’s other goal. Playing just miles from his hometown of Clifton, NJ, Najem notched the opening goal on a curling strike from just inside the 18-yard box. Najem rounded out his night with his second assist of the season on Santi Moar’s second-half goal. The result earned goalkeeper Jake McGuire his fourth shutout of the season.
“We performed well on both sides of the ball so I thought it was a complete performance on top of being a good win,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “Really happy with Adam Najem’s performance, we talked about getting him closer to goal and he came through and had a big impact. Overall the win gives us a lot of confidence as we head into our next game.”
The club’s unbeaten streak began against its in-state rivals, Harrisburg, after downing the club, 3-1, at Goodman Stadium on May 28. The win was the first in the series for Steel FC and avenged an earlier season loss at FNB Field where City Islanders notched a 90th minute goal to steal a 3-2 victory. In the Steel FC victory, James Chambers ignited the offense, scoring his first goal of the season. Seku Conneh followed up the captain’s goal with his fifth goal of the season in the 49th minute. After Harrisburg City Islanders’ Danny DiPrima answered with an 80th-minute goal, substitute Josh Heard drew a penalty kick that was converted by Cory Burke to seal Steel FC’s first victory against Harrisburg.
Tuesday night’s contest will be the sixth meeting between the two clubs, with Harrisburg holding a 1-3-1 advantage. The club’s have split their last three matchups, with Steel FC outscoring their hosts by a 7-6 margin, two of which have come from Chambers. Steel FC currently sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-6-1 (19 points) while Harrisburg has collected only 10 points in 12 contests.
“There might be too much familiarity but we expect it to be a battle especially on the road,” Burke said. “At their place it becomes about the fight in the game but we want to get through that part in play the ball on the ground while being physical.”
Harrisburg enters Tuesday’s match riding a three-match losing streak in USL play. City Islanders dropped a 2-0 decision on the road at Charlotte Independence on Saturday. Jorge Herrera collected a brace. City Islanders competed against Bethlehem Steel FC’s MLS-affiliate, Philadelphia Union in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, falling 3-1. Aaron Wheeler leads the club with two goals scored but hasn’t appeared since being subbed off due to injury in the 24th minute at Ottawa Fury FC on June 10.