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Bethlehem’s 2018 USL home opener and conference alignment

Map courtesy USL

The Steel will remain in the eastern conference and will host the Richmond Kickers on Sunday March 18 at 2:00 PM.

The United Soccer League will again align into two conferences  for 2018.

The alignment news includess two very recent developments.

  • Former NASL side Indy Eleven has joined USL for the 2018 season.
  • Orlando City B will not compete in USL this year.  Orlando is choosing “not to participate in the USL at the Division II level in 2018 while it evaluates its future options.”

Those two decisions mean Bethlehem’s conference will have 16 teams and the west will have 17 since St. Louis’s returns west.

Six points

Orlando City B‘s news suggests two things.

  • It explains why coach Anthony Pulis left for St. Louis.
  • The announcement’s wording suggests the young lions might compete at a lower level in the future.  Readers may recall that USL is creating a Division Three league for 2019.

A competitive triangle now exists in the USL east among Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Louisville that has league-leading turnstile support.

The I-4 rivalry in central Florida is gone.

Eastern conference travel budgets will be glad to gain  Indianapolis  and lose  St. Louis and Orlando, since one shorter trip replaces two longer ones.

Geographically, USL’s presence west of the Appalachians and east of the Mississippi is now quite strong in a populous sports hotbed since expansion sides Nashville and Atlanta 2 will begin play in addition the squad from Indiana. (See map above south of Lake Michigan.)

Bar trivia

Indianapolis’s team name honors  the 11th Indiana Volunteers, a Civil War regiment that saw action under Grant at Fts. Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, and Vicksburg . Subsequently they came east with Sheridan to Washington and then the Shenandoah Valley.

The statute on Indy’s shield is the one atop the soldiers and sailors monument in the center of the city, Victory.

At last

Concerning the rest of Bethlehem’s schedule, 30 of each team’s 34 games with be provided by their home-and-away series with the other fifteen conference opponents. The Steel, and every other eastern team, will then need four additional games to make 2018’s new total. In the past that has meant four additional “rivalry” games, two home and two away.

Candidates for the Steel’s extra four might be NY Red Bulls 2, Penn FC (old City Islanders) and Pittsburgh, but geography will not necessarily govern.

8 Comments

  1. WeAreSteel2K18 says:

    Great to see more big cities in the conference. I just love that Indy, Cincy, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Nashville, Tampa, Charlotte, and Atlanta [albeit their 2 team] have to travel to little old Bethlehem and play BSFC. I think the club would be a great investment for one of the wealthy people in the Lehigh Valley – obviously then breaking away from the Union and being a full independent club. Pro/Rel will happen eventually.

    • “Little old Bethlehem”?
      Too little might be issue…stadium size and team salary. Eventually Usl will limit roster of mls based teams in Usl 2.0 to prevent what union does now.
      Then Usl splits off steel to d3.
      And union start off like last year they will prove they are Usl d2 level team. They proved they can beat Orlando Usl team last game and how many of their 2017 wins were against mls 2ND string players as opponents rested their stars?
      Attendance is Usl level already.
      El P will be happy for relegation to usl and rest of fanbase will be happy union finally meet fan expectations.
      Hope I’m wrong and Union perform this year but for 2018 faith is lacking…need to see the proof.
      UnionGoal

  2. What happened with Rochester???? It’s a shame…..they had a nice little club there……one of the most organized sides I’ve seen in terms of shape and what they try to execute…..at any level, including MLS. Anyone know where their players went? Including our local guys Darius and Joey?

    • Yeah, I was bummed to hear they were in trouble. They have made Open Cup waves in the past, here’s hoping they can rebound and get back on the field again.

    • The oversimplified answer to the Rochester question is money. .
      .
      Attendance late last season was dropping, and the soccer club does not get the same stadium support from local government that the other sports in the town do.
      .
      Their coach left for Pittsburgh. He has brought in some of his old players. Several others are still in the league with other clubs.
      .
      I have not noticed Darius Madison being picked up in USL so far.
      .
      I apologize for not recognizing the “Joey” reference.
      .
      If you go on the USL website homepage in the upper right under the menu bar there is a box called transfer tracker. It lists clubs and their players and the player’s former club is in parenthesis.

      • Thanks Tim. I appreciate it. I was referencing Joe Farrel, another local kid who was with Rochester.

      • Joe Farrell is now with Phoenix Rising.
        .
        You are most welcome, Alicat215.

      • There are nine former Rochester Rhinos listed with other clubs on the transfer tracker on the league website.
        .
        The greatest concentration is with their old coach at Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
        .
        The tracker disclaimer states that it is not a complete record of everything.

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