Photo: Courtesy of Bethlehem Steel FC
With the first team squad continuing to struggle, slogging through a demoralizing draw while waiting to incorporate the team’s record signing as a reinforcement, it seems appropriate to look to Bethlehem Steel to find the most deserving candidate for PSP’s Player of the Week.
We need look no further than the young side’s veteran captain.
Ryan Richter, a one-time Union man brought back to the Delaware Valley to steady the expansion USL side, has been Bethlehem’s most consistent player — a rock at right back for Brendan Burke to build on every game.
Even as the team has struggled, Richter has performed. And he truly put the team on his back this weekend against Charlotte Independence, contributing in a big way to both goals in a 2-2 draw.
In the first half, Richter’s bombing runs from the back provided danger for the Steel, and his 22nd minute cross found Seku Conneh for the opening goal.
The second half was more of the same. PSP’s Dylan Gerstley observed in his match report that “the Steel’s attacking play was channeled mostly through Richter on the right hand side, and his drive and determination provided a few good opportunities.”
When Bethlehem found themselves trailing 2-1, Richter again rose to the occasion. His cross caused the collision between Corey Burke and the Charlotte goalkeeper which earned the Steel a penalty, and the captain himself strode up to take it. He made no mistake from the spot, putting it away in the 88th minute to salvage a late point for the Steel.
In a team built around youth, often incorporating Union reserves or Academy youngsters on short notice, veteran leadership is essential, and Richter has provided that all season long. His rock-solid performances on the field suggest that maybe another look at MLS is deserved. The Union appear set at right back for the foreseeable future with Keegan Rosenberry, but Richter would be an affordable and competent backup if Ray Gaddis is moved to new pastures after the season. Or perhaps a different fullback-starved MLS squad may come calling for the man with the magnificent Twitter handle “SHAQALDINHO.”
For now, though, we’re glad he’s at Bethlehem. And this week’s stellar performance earns Ryan Richter our Player of the Week award.
PSP Player of the Week Awards, 2016 Season
Ryan Richter (8/9)
Murphy Agnew (8/2)
Nathan Regis (7/26)
Chris Pontius (3/15, 7/19)
Chevaughn Walsh (7/6)
Roland Alberg (6/21, 6/28)
Brian Carroll (4/26, 6/1)
Richie Marquez (5/24)
Keegan Rosenberry (5/17)
Sebastien Le Toux (4/19)
Tranquillo Barnetta (4/11)
C.J. Sapong (3/22)
Andre Blake (3/8)