For the second straight season, LouCity and Bethlehem Steel FC meet in the USL Playoffs at Slugger Field. Following City’s crushing 4-1 blow to Indy Eleven in one of last weekend’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Los Morados host Steel FC in the EC Semifinal after the visitors prevailed in a penalty shootout against Riverhounds SC on the same night.
Last Time against Bethlehem Steel FC
You’d have to turn the calendar a few months as a 0-0 draw all the way back on June 9 in Bethlehem was the last time the pair met in all competitions. City got the better of Steel FC in their lone visit to Louisville, a 3-1 win on April 28, but a frustrating stalemate four months back is the last occasion the two have crossed paths.
Scouting Steel FC
Though months have gone by since the last encounter between the two sides, Steel FC had largely remained in playoff contention right the way through to the end of the regular season. Getting a pair of results to help their cause, coach Brendan Burke’s side stole the No. 6-seed by getting a win of their own on that decisive Sunday, beating the Tampa Bay Rowdies at home to secure their playoff position.
Last weekend, they faced arguably one of the toughest sides in the whole of the Eastern Conference in Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and managed to prevail. Originally facing a 1-0 deficit thanks to a goal by Riverhounds SC midfielder Ben Zemanski, an equalizer from Michee Ngalina in the 70th minute would eventually force the two sides into extra time. Pittsburgh found the lead again through Hugh Roberts in the 105th minute only to have Steel FC’s James Chambers tie things up again in the 109th minute.
Going down to the 8th penalty taker for each side, Pittsburgh’s Raymond Lee could not convert while Steel FC’s Olivier Mbaizo did and sealed his team’s place in the EC Semifinal.
City got their playoff output in the attacking end off a strong start last Saturday by putting up four goals on Indy Eleven in the team’s first-round matchup. It marks the second straight season City scored four goals to begin their playoff run, starting last year’s USL Cup-winning campaign with a resounding 4-0 win over Steel FC at Slugger Field.
Time will tell if coach Hackworth & co., are able to keep up the scoring, though. City fans will remember a 1-0 win over Rochester Rhinos at this stage last year coming as one of the tightest encounters of the season, and Steel FC will have similar plans when they come to town on Saturday.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Slugger Field.