With points in four of its last five matches, Bethlehem Steel FC concludes a busy stretch against Eastern Conference leaders FC Cincinnati on Wednesday, June 13. The match is the USL’s Game of the Week and will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN3 with kick off from Nippert Stadium scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Supporters of the club can join Steel FC at its second viewing party of the year at Golazo House, located at 123 W. 4th Street in Bethlehem.
Steel FC enters the contest after shutting out Cincinnati’s biggest rival, Louisville City FC. Against the defending USL Cup Champions, Steel FC held them without a shot on frame in the first half and just two overall as Union goalkeeper John McCarthy up his second clean sheet of the season.
“Just really proud of my guys to give away only two shots on goal against a team of that caliber, especially with so many young faces out there,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said following the match. “We weren’t always clean on the ball, there were moments where we could and transition but you don’t always have to be clean on the ball in this game. You have to be diligent in defending and apply the tactics that you’ve worked on all week.”
Wednesday’s night contest will be the seventh all-time matchup between Steel FC and FC Cincinnati with the Ohio-based club with a slight 3-2-1 advantage. Last season, Steel FC claimed the season series with a pair of home shutouts and struck first at Nippert Stadium but couldn’t claim its first win away from home with a 2-1 setback. Earlier this season, Steel FC battled the Orange and Blue to a 1-1 draw. Cory Burke opened the scoring in Steel FC’s favor on an assist from Anthony Fontana but the visitors leveled the match on a 71st-minute strike from Nazmi Albadawi.
The Eastern Conference leaders enter the match having won three of its last four matches including a 2-0 victory at North Carolina FC. While the club sports an 8-3-2 record and 26 points, the hosts are 2-2-1 at Nippert Stadium. Forward Danni Konig paces the offense with six goals, becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer last weekend. Against Steel FC last year, Konig netted a brace in the home victory. Cincinnati will be without one of its biggest offensive threats Emmanuel Ledesman, who leads the league with seven assists, due to yellow card accumulation.
“You need to be sound defensively because they are big, open and they press especially at home and they have a lot of the ball,” Burke said of the upcoming match. “There is just so much quality in every position so it's difficult to pinpoint one thing but I think if you are sound defensively, you give yourself a chance in any game.”