USL Roundup: Steel FC Preseason, Louisville Retools and Republic Get Younger

Bethlehem Steel

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

USL teams are looking more and more complete as preseason schedules and player rosters fill out ahead of the 2016 season.

The major news seems to be focused on signings and games that will give coaches a chance to solidify a philosophy of play for the year. The upcoming season will be the longest in USL history and teams must be prepared for a grueling year that will test the younger rosters mentally and the older players physically.

Bethlehem Steel Will Play USL Competition Before the Season Starts

Bethlehem Steel have announced their preseason schedule ahead of the 2016 USL season and it includes some league competition. Head coach Brendan Burke will have a chance to lock in a formation and see just how his team flows with three of the five preseason games coming against college teams.

Steel FC will host 2015 NCAA College Cup winners Syracuse University on March 6, with the game open to fans at 11:30AM. The other two college games will see the Steel travel to Penn State and Georgetown University on March 19 and 20.

The remainder of the preseason schedule will see the team hosting USL competition. At first it will be New York Red Bull II on March 11 and then the Harrisburg City Islanders on March 15; the team’s first game at Goodman Stadium.

Louisville City Loses Fondy But Gains Defense

It was a shocking move last week when Matt Fondy, USL 2015 MVP, departed Louisville for the NASL Jacksonville Armada. However, the team isn’t looking back, fortifying the midfield with the signing of Korean national Jonghyun Son.

Son is a Holy Cross College alum earning 2015 NAIA Men’s All-Mideast Region first team honors. As a senior, he sparkled on defense but did provide a much needed connection between the backline and offense. While helping the team to nine clean sheets, he also nabbed a goal and a pair of assists.

His total career college stats included six goals and six assists.

“I am lucky and excited to join Louisville City FC,” said Son. “Louisville is one of the best teams in USL and I am thrilled to play in front of great fans.”

Republic Get a Bit Younger

Sacramento Republic FC have looked as strong as some D2 sides in their first two years in existence, focusing on a mix of veterans more than youth. That philosophy is changing as head coach Paul Buckle takes the team through their first full season together.

Only six players are holdovers from the 2015 season, with major names like Rodrigo Lopez and Justin Braun moving on this offseason. Veteran midfielder Ivan Mirkovic doesn’t expect a downturn in results from the major changes.

“New guys are coming in who are hungry,” Mirkovic told the Sacramento Bee. “It’s going to be a younger team this year, but maybe that’s good.”


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  • Mark

    Just to clarify on the Republic, there are only six players who were regularly starting at the end of the season returning. There are another six or so who had started many games and who received significant minutes at the end of the year. Then there are a couple of others. Fourteen return.

    • Anthony J. Merced

      I did make a mistake. I mean’t six holdovers from the 2014 season not 2015. Thanks for catching that.

  • Larry\’s A Simpleton

    Thank you for the article! I’m always interested in reading about Division 2 soccer in this country.

    • LARRY BUTTHOLE

      JUST BECAUSE YOU WISH DOESN’T MAKE IT TRUE


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