photo Ted Brooks, Philadelphia Union
Tomorrow, Bethlehem Steel FC open their second United Soccer League season against the Rochester Rhinos at Goodman Stadium at 4:00 PM.
The league intends to stream the game live on YouTube for those watching from elsewhere. The Steel’s website provides details in its match previews at http://www.bethlehemsteelfc.com as well as at its twitter account @bsteelfc.
How this scorecard works
The three numbered, boldfaced subheads below are the sources that provide players for each Steel game-day roster and each separate paragraph’s topic sentence provides the goals for the players. The bullet lists the player, his position, his 2017 number if known, and his expected game-day role.
The unpredictable element is unexpected first-teamers sitting on the bench due to the regular first team player always starting. For example, were centerbacks Jack Elliott and Auston Trusty both loaned down for the same game, PSP expects that Hugh Roberts would sit.
In addition, USL now mandates each team must submit a list of 24 players 48 hours in advance, from which the game-day 18 must be drawn. Head coach Brendan Burke will have more time and fewer variables as he plans game management.
1. The Philadelphia Union
There will be individual first-teamers needing game fitness and “sharpening up,” which is the unpredictable element mentioned above. For example, before starting a Union game in goal, John McCarthy will get game fit by playing a game for the Steel, and Jake McGuire will sit.
In keeping with usual practice the Union have made no personnel announcements. What follows is inferred from direct observation of various scrimmages and practices throughout preseason, and what can be found on the MLS website.
There are season-long, “unrecallable” – save for the MLS “extreme hardship” GK exception – loans to the Steel by the Union. The two guesses below follow information discovered on the MLS website and organization behavior in 2016.
- #29, Jake McGuire, GK – will start
- #19, Aaron Jones, RB – will start
And there are game-by-game “recallable” loans to the Steel that is a case of either rehabilitation or growth-and-development opportunities. Likely examples are:
- #8, Maurice Edu, CM – will start, when medically cleared, until he is first-team ready
- #15, Josh Yaro, RCB – will start, when medically cleared, until he is first-team ready
- #26, Auston Trusty, LCB – will start, when not with USMNT U-20s
- #24, Adam Najem, ACM – will start when made available
- #20, Marcus Epps, RM – will start when made available
2. Bethlehem Steel FC
There are six players new for the Steel this season.
- #42, Hugh Roberts, RCB – expected to start
- #47, Matt Real, LB – seems to be depth
- #38, Santi Moar, LFM, ACM – expected to start
- #44, Charlie Reymann, LB – expected to start
- #48, Matt Mahoney, FB – seems to be depth
- #37, Chris Nanco, FM – seems to be depth
One unsigned trialist who joined camp just before March 1 and has survived the entire month is Chris Wingate, a defensive central midfielder who would provide depth behind 30-year-old James Chambers. The six returning Steel veterans put the team at the league-required minimum of twelve professionals, Jake McGuire’s exact roster status being somewhat unclear.
- #45, James Chambers, DCM – expected to start as captain
- #40, Josh Heard, RFM, LFM, ACM,CM, RFB – versatile, seems to be depth
- #49, Yosef Samuel, FM – seems to be depth
- #41, Cory Burke, S, RFM – expected to start
- #36, Seku Conneh, S – expected to start
- #39, Amoy Brown, S, FM, ACM – seems to be depth
3. YSC Academy
Although not seen by PSP since the Temple scrimmage, central midfielder Anthony Fontana is a YSC Academy student who will be training with the Steel in the future and will perhaps start for them at some point, as he did last year.
These Academy students are probably training with the Steel and are expected to dress and play, some more frequently and some less.
- Mark McKenzie, Senior, CB — depth, closely behind Trusty and Roberts
- Issa Rayyan, Junior, FM – seems to be depth
- Justin McMaster, senior, LFM – depth behind Moar and Samuel
- Josue Monge, Senior, CM – role uncertain, may well start
- Tomas Romero, Sophomore, GK — depth, when not with the El Salvador youth program
And Matt Freese, who plays with the Academy’s team but is enrolled at Episcopal Academy, would provide goalkeeper depth along with Romero.
GK=goalkeeper; RB=right back, RCB=right center back, LCB=left center back, LB=left back; DCM= defensive center midfielder, CM=center midfielder; RFM= right flank midfielder, ACM= attacking center midfielder, LFM=left flank midfielder; S= striker