Despite a loss in the club’s final road match of the 2017 regular season, Bethlehem Steel FC is still in control of its destiny for competing for the USL Cup.
Tuesday night served as the first of four chances that Steel FC could clinch one of the final three spots in the USL Playoffs. While the club wasn’t able to knock off one of the league’s top defenses in the Rochester Rhinos at Capelli Sport Stadium, there are three more shots for Steel FC to extend their season.
While celebrating Tuesday night in the club’s penultimate match and on the road would have been exciting, Steel FC’s next chance to clinch is Thursday evening. Steel FC sits one point ahead of Orlando City B and wins the USL’s first tiebreaker with 12 victories compared to Orlando’s 10, meaning Orlando will have to win to keep their postseason life alive. A loss or draw would be enough for Steel FC.
While Orlando City B is the host of the I-4 match, the new Orlando City Stadium hasn’t shown much love for the USL squad as they are just 3-4-8 at home. Needing a win will be difficult as they host a Rowdies squad still battling for the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed but Tampa Bay has had its own struggles away from home, sporting a 2-6-7 road record.
Should Orlando City B claim all three points against their rivals, a Steel FC celebration would be delayed two more days with the attention turning to FC Cincinnati’s match in Canada. Currently tied with the Ohio based club on points with 43, Steel FC and Orlando would claim the final spots in the USL Playoffs with a Cincinnati loss north of the border on Saturday night.
Despite their remarkable semifinals run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the orange and blue finds itself in the eighth and final playoff spot. While a look at the table might not suggest an upset, Cincinnati barely defeated Toronto FC II in late May with a 1-0 scoreline. Away from Nippert Stadium has been difficult for FC Cincinnati, as they have only picked up three victories and four draws.
While Toronto FC II sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, the club has come up with shocking results this season including a 1-0 victory over Louisville City FC a few weeks ago. The night will have added meaning for the side as it will be their final home match at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan, Ontario.
While destiny in their own hands, Bethlehem Steel FC would need a victory in their regular season finale against Saint Louis FC at Goodman Stadium should all the results go unfavorably. Playing on the final day of the regular season, all eyes would be locked on the campus of Lehigh University as Steel FC would look to clinch the first postseason berth in club history while also determining the final seeding and matchups for the opening round of the USL Playoffs.
Steel FC knocked off the Eastern Conference newcomer on the road in mid-June, overcoming an early own goal with strikes from Seku Conneh and James Chambers to complete a three-game road sweep. The squad has picked up six victories at Goodman Stadium so far in 2017 and scored 22 goals in front of its home crowd.
Saint Louis FC were eliminated from postseason contention a few weeks ago and enters the weekend having claimed only four points in their last five games. The Eastern Conference newcomer has only two victories on the road but will look to play the role of spoiler in their finale.