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 Philadelphia Union II

Bethlehem Steel FC Continues USL Cup Playoffs Run at Defending Champions

October 26, 2018 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Philadelphia Union II News Release

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Fresh off the club's first postseason win in its modern history, Bethlehem Steel FC's postseason path makes a stop against Louisville City FC. After facing off last season in the opening round, the two sides will square off in the USL Eastern Conference Semifinals on Saturday, October 27. Kick off from Louisville Slugger Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN+.

Steel FC enters the match after knocking off in-state rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC last weekend in penalty kicks. The boys in blue overcame one-goal deficits in the second half and the final extra time period to force overtime thanks to timely goals from Michee Ngalina and team captain James Chambers. In the penalty shootout, Steel FC went a perfect 8-for-8 from the spot to secure the organization's first postseason win.

"I think it built in a belief in the group," Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. "That's the first time that this club has won a playoff game, I know it's at a lower level but that's an important milestone. It's definitely left us excited for more now that we've had a taste of it. We know that these young guys can show the grit to get through those moments."

While Saturday's contest will be Steel FC's third postseason match, it will be it's second against Louisville City FC. The two sides met in 2017 in the conference quarterfinals with the eventual champions claiming a home victory by a 4-0 margin. That match has been the fuel for Steel FC's 2018 postseason run and has the team prepared for the atmosphere says Chambers.

"They have players from last year's squad and we were sore last year. It was our first experience in the playoffs as a team and as individuals so that was a new experience. This year, we'll be a little savvier and be better prepared knowing what we are going into. We'll take the confidence from the [Pittsburgh] win."

In 2018, the two sides haven't squared off since June 9th and will see the first match between Burke and new Louisville head coach John Hackworth. Louisville claimed the opening match in this season's series with three goals in nine minutes to claim a 3-1 victory at home back in April while Steel FC battled back with a scoreless draw at Goodman Stadium in June.

Louisville entered the postseason after finishing second in the conference, racking up a team-record 19 victories. LouCity began its title defense with a strong 4-1 victory over rival Indy Eleven last weekend with Niall McCabe bagging a brace while Ilija Ilic and Cameron Lancaster added goals. Lancaster has had a historic 2018 season, with the USL Golden Boot winner setting a league record with 25 goals in the regular season. Overall he has contributed to nearly 35% of LouCity's scoring. Louisville also returns playmakers Oscar Jimenez, Pablo DelPiccolo and Ilic from last season's postseason run, all of whom cause issues for Steel FC in 2017. LouCity also comes in having won each of its last seven matches, outscoring its opponents by a 21-4 margin.

"They are experienced all over the field, they won the league last year and are playing home games where they are comfortable," Burke said. "It's a difficult environment to play in and they are very well adjusted to it. They've been good on set pieces all year, they have the hottest goal scorer in the league. I would say all the pressure is squarely on them in this game."


2018 USL Eastern Conference Semifinal

Date: October 27, 2018

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Louisville Slugger Stadium, Louisville, KY.

Bethlehem Steel FC: 14-12-8

Louisville City FC: 19-6-9

Watch: ESPN+

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