Legendary Bethlehem Steel Name Resurrected In USL

Bethlehem Steel

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

The rumors have swirled since the announcement of a USL team in Lehigh Valley but now it is confirmed. The Philadelphia Union’s reserve team within the USL will be named Bethlehem Steel.

The name was announced at an event at Artsquest at SteelStacks where the team’s logo and colors were also unveiled. While little doubt was ever in question about the name of the team, there was an open vote for fans which opened on August 19th. At that point supporters voted on a few options as well as having the ability to enter their own original ideas.

Bethlehem Steel FC won by a landslide with over eighty percent of the vote.

The name has significant history in Pennsylvania soccer history. From 1907 to 1930, Bethlehem Steel Football Club dominated the game in North America with nine league championships, six American Cups and five National Challenge Cups. The ownership imported players from Scotland and England, making them one of the earliest “super clubs” in American soccer.

Despite their success, the team was disbanded in the early 1920’s and moved to Philadelphia where financial hardships plagued the team. American soccer politics and national economics eventually brought down the club and they disappeared in 1930.

The name Bethlehem Steel FC came from the club’s corporate sponsor having adopted the name in 1915. In an era where corporate ownership and branding of teams has been quite a contentious topic, especially in places like New York, the fan base in Pennsylvania had no problems adopting one of the first versions of this in American football.

“The history expressed in the crest and colors come as a result of thoughtful deliberation and planning,” said Executive Vice President Dave Rowan. “We believe that the logo, colors and name respectfully pay tribute to the Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club, while also reflecting the influence that the Union provide.”

The team will begin play in 2016 at Goodman Stadium in Lehigh University.

  • BleedingRed

    That’s an awesome nod to history. Well done.

    • BleedingRed

      But maybe instead of the I-beam they should have incorporated the original “B” with the Union snake.

  • Cosmo

    All MLS teams who want to rebrand Or redo their logo or future MLS teams should contact unions people.
    They did a perfect job with unions and Bethlehems logo and name.
    Even sounders logo is cheesy but half MLS teams need help in their logo.
    In no particular order, red bull, rapids, dynamo, revolution, DC, Dallas, all those teams need a new logo and probably a name too.

  • Kevin

    I think its an awesome tribute to history. Actually just finished reading a book comparing the history of Bethlehem Steel and the original NY Cosmos. Good read. Well done Union fans, i think they got this one spot one. Logo as well

    • Book name, please?

  • HydraHamster

    I’m not a fan of such a historic name being used for a reserve team. I get that this is to honor the Steels, but I rather see them as a independent club along side the Union. Its like having the Cosmos being a reserve team for the NYCFC or RedBulls. I know people are going to disagree, but that’s just my opinion.

    • slowleftarm

      This is a reserve team, that’s the whole point of it. They could have just called it Union 2 but decided to resurrect the old name.

  • jimmy j

    I hear what you are saying Hydra, but I think it is a good addition, lots of history, but they have not been around since 1930, and in Bethlehem doubt it would ever be top flight soccer in the modern era, don’t you think?

    Plus, the way cosmos are going with only a couple thousand attendance at a college lacrosse field, they would probably be lucky to be picked up as a reserve team for either of the 2 NY MLS teams – it would help their appeal.

  • Kevin

    I think its a nice gesture to a very important time in the history of soccer. Name of book Jordy is Corner Offices and Corner Kicks by Roger Allaway