Fresh off a second-half comeback win on the road, Bethlehem Steel FC returns to the Lehigh Valley to kick off a busy schedule that features three matches in seven days. The stretch begins on Sunday, August 13, when Steel FC hosts Toronto FC II in the second of three regular season contests set for 2017. Kickoff from Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University is scheduled for 5 p.m. Fans that can’t make it to the match can watch it online both on YouTube and on the club’s website.
Steel FC is looking to carry momentum from last week’s victory at Ottawa Fury FC. After an unfortunate bounce led to an own goal in the seventh minute, Steel FC regained possession and found timely goals from the rookie forward duo of Chris Nanco and Santi Moar. After Nanco delivered the equalizer on a Cory Burke volley in the 66th minute, Moar took advantage of a Fury FC miscommunication for his first professional game-winning goal in the 81st minute. The result not only snapped Steel FC’s modest two-match losing streak, it made USL history as 16-year-old Tomas Romero became the youngest keeper to record a win in net during a league match.
“Really proud of the performance, fifth win on the road in nine games and that isn’t an easy thing to do in any league,” Burke said. “Really happy with the determination and the style of play, going up to an opposing team and out possessing them, especially given our age, it was an impressive feat for the group. It puts us back in a good place after two tough performances before that and we can’t forget about that. We need to grab this and build some momentum again.”
The matchup will be the fourth all-time meet up between Steel FC and Toronto FC II. While the visitors claimed both matches last season, Steel FC enters this weekend looking for a fifth regular season series victory having taken the first match in 2017 in Toronto. Jamaican international Cory Burke delivered the needed goal, converting a penalty kick in the eighth minute while the defense put up one of its best performance of the season. Goalkeeper Jake McGuire tallied a career-high seven saves in the match and was named to the USL Team of the Week for his clean sheet play. In the previous matchups between the two clubs, scoring first has been critical and come early. In every game, the winning side has scored within the opening 20 minutes.
“It’s really important and you have to get the points when they are there to be had,” Burke said. “Toronto is not pushover, they beat Charleston last weekend and we are aware that we’re in for a game. They play an aggressive system just like their first team so anything can happen on those days. I respect some of their attacking talent like they have in (Shaan) Hundal.”
Toronto FC II will be playing in their third match in a single week and currently sit in 14th place in the standings. Despite their record, the club is on its best run of the season having taken four points in their previous two matches against two of the top clubs in the USL’s Eastern Conference. After defeating third placed Charleston Battery 1-0, they countered with a stoppage time goal against first-place Charlotte Independence for a 2-2 draw. Playing south of the Canadian border has been a trouble spot for the club, as they are 1-8-1 when playing in the United States so far this season.