After an unbeaten June, things were looking bright for Bethlehem Steel FC. The club was coming off a thrilling comeback draw against New York Red Bulls II and a resounding 4-1 victory over the Charlotte Independence.
The calendar changed to July and with it came a string of results against Steel FC that saw only one point in the month’s first five contests. Things hit a low against Indy Eleven, with the club controlling the contest but a late set-piece goal saw the winless streak continue. Following the match, Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke summarized the match in six words. “Not good enough, that’s my statement.”
With their back against the wall, Steel FC has responded with as a team on both sides of the pitch. While the offense has collected a franchise-record 10 goals in wins against Atlanta United 2, Richmond Kickers and the Charlotte Independence, the defense has been just as strong with only one goal conceded. The club enters the weekend having not allowed a goal in its last 230 minutes while goalkeeper Jake McGuire has picked up back-to-back road shutouts.
Even more impressive has been the selflessness in the scoring, of the club’s last 10 goals only one player, Omar Holness, has scored multiple goals. That’s been the definition of Steel FC this season. Having to replace two players from the 2017 squad that combined for 19 goals, the team has turned to everyone to pick up the scoring load and it has succeeded. 21 players have combined for 41 goals in Steel FC’s 24 contests. Of those goals, the club has picked up 33 assists including 20-consecutive goals from the run of play.
“It’s a very unselfish team and I think we do well in terms of the pattern of play to do well and put ourselves in a good position,” Burke said earlier this week. “The guys being unselfish is a little bit of training but a lot about the chemistry of the team and that willingness to set up other guys to succeed.”
With the offense roaring, Steel FC faces one of its toughest tests of the season against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday, August 12. Having embraced head coach Bob Lilley’s stringent defensive style, the club has allowed only 10 goals this season and is well on its way to cementing itself as one of the best defensive teams in USL history.