Philadelphia Union II

7 added to Bethlehem Steel roster

Bethlehem Steel announced today the addition of seven players to its inaugural roster, several of whom have area connections, three of whom are internationals.

Joining the team are defenders Nick Bibbs, a Philadelphia native, and Raymond Lee, drafted by the Union in 2015; midfielders Ken Tribbett, who played for Drexel and Harrisburg City Islanders, James Chambers, and Josh Heard; and forwards Amoy Brown and Seku Conneh.

Bethlehem head coach Brendan Burke said in a statement, “We’re very happy with the group we’ve been able to assemble ahead of our first season. There’s really a strong mix of experience, both in USL and overseas, as well a promising blend of young players who we’re confident can take the next step in their professional careers. We’re looking forward to officially getting everyone together for preseason and begin to prepare for our first match on March 26.”

Here’s some info on the new additions:

Nick Bibbs, 24, is a Philadelphia native who comes to the team from USL side St. Louis FC. A Reading United alum, Bibbs played professionally in Sweden for IFK Lammhult after graduating from Syracuse.

Raymond Lee, 22, was drafted by the Union in the fourth round of the 2015 SuperDraft before being waived by the club on August 28.

Irish midfielder James Chambers, 28, joins the club from Irish Premier Division side St. Patrick’s Athletic, where he was the team’s Player of the Year for 2015. He has also played in Ireland for Shamrock Rovers, Drogheda United and Shelbourne FC, in Scotland for Hamilton Academical, and in England for Solihull Moors FC.

Josh Heard, 21, was selected by Vancouver Whitecaps in the fourth round of the 2016 SuperDraft, but decided instead to join Bethlehem. He had 50 starts over 74 appearance for University of Washington.

Ken Tribbett, 23, was a four-year starter at Drexel before signing with Harrisburg City Islanders in 2015, starting all 28 matches and scoring 3 goals.

Amoy Brown, 19, is a Jamaican youth international who last played for St. Georges College. He trialed with Portland Timbers in 2015.

Seku Conneh, 20, is a Liberian who comes to the Union after playing for Dutch second division sides FC Oss and Fortuna Sittard, having spent time in the Ajax youth system.

Brown, Chambers, and Conneh wjoin the club after receipt of their International Transfer Certificated and P-1 Visas.

The Bethlehem roster now looks like this:

Goalkeeper (1): Samir Badr
Defenders (4): Nick Bibbs, Michael Daly, Raymond Lee, Ryan Richter
Midfielders (5): Boluwatife Akinyode, James Chambers, Josh Heard, Derrick Jones, Ken Tribbett
Forwards (3): Amoy Brown, Seku Conneh, Gabe Gissie

The team’s home opener at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem is Sunday, April 3, following the season opener on the road against FC Montreal on March 25.


  1. What about Cory Burke. When the article came up on Unions website at first, I swear it said they also signed him.

  2. Two things:
    (1) How does this work? “Josh Heard, 21, was selected by Vancouver Whitecaps in the fourth round of the 2016 SuperDraft, but decided instead to join Bethlehem.”
    (2) Am I the only one that, at first glance, thought Seku Conneh was a Libriarian?

    • Yeah I was scratching my head at #1 too – Pretty sure Heard is free to sign with any club outside MLS, which BSFC is despite being a Union affiliate, but wouldn’t Vancouver still own his MLS rights by virtue of drafting him?

      • Interesting. There must be other examples of this. I just can’t think of any at the moment.

      • That situation sounds ripe for shenanigans. I can’t imagine he’d be allowed to play for the Union, unless VWFC already released him.

      • I kinda remember reading somewhere that a MLS club only has the rights to an unsigned draft pick for one year and then they essentially become a free agent.

      • From what I can gather on twitter:

        Heard was already in discussions with BSFC prior to the draft.

        4th Round picks usually don’t make team out of camp.

        He’s a BC native, so fact that he wanted to be here rather than try to catch on with Whitecaps II means he feels his PT and development will be greater here.

        As far as his MLS rights, Whitecaps hold them for 2 years. So basically if he breaks out to the point that the Union want him on the MLS roster at any point in the next two years they’ll have to give Vancouver something (late round pick, inconsequential amount of Allocation money)but more than likely if he does well at the end of the two year period he would join the mother club as a depth player.

      • Very helpful, thank you!

  3. Ken Tribbett is a good pick up for Steel FC; was solid in defense for Harrisburg last year. On the flip side, Harrisburg has basically lost any talent they had the last season, so it should be interesting where this all ends up.

    • Agreed on both counts, Tribbett is a good signing and the City Islanders have been gutted. They have some serious rebuilding to do to stay competitive in this league, and without a MLS affiliation, I gotta wonder how they’re gonna attract talent?

      • They tend to pull a lot of players year after year from the local area, but it seems like they’ll have to get a lot more this year. In the past, it’s worked well, but they’ve also always had some international players and mainstays who stuck around. It’ll be interesting to see how this year goes or if they have anything up their sleeves with new players from elsewhere. Central PA is deep, but it’s not THAT deep.

  4. So the Irish Premier League is on par with the US third division? I would not have guessed that.

    • Yes, in a lot ways the Irish League is comparable to USL. Smallish crowds, most of the top talent goes to England, etc. Former Union and City Islander winger Morgan Langley played at St. Patrick’s Athletic last season, mostly as a reserve, appearing in 18 games and scoring 3 goals, but he was not retained for the upcoming season. James Chambers is a pretty intriguing signing and one that signals an intent to be competitive. He was St. Pat’s player-of-the-year just last season and will presumably mentor younger guys while playing a leadership position alongside Michael Daly and Ryan Richter as BSFC’s elder statesmen. How do these contracts work anyway? Either he’s being compensated well or thinks he might have a chance to move up to MLS, otherwise why does a 28-year-old make this move? I wonder if Brendan Burke retained some connections from his time at Sligo Rovers?

      • I can’t speak for Chambers obviously, but you never know how someone views the chance to live in a particular country. Maybe he wants to see America. I know when I was 28, if someone offered to pay me money (just about any amount) to work in Ireland I would have been on first flight out of Philly.

      • I know, many factors ranging from a partner to a desire to live in America could have influenced his decision. I was asking the questioning sorta rhetorically from a sporting angle, to move to a third division side seems curious unless the compensation makes sense and/or he feels like his career in soccer won’t suffer too much. Without knowing much about Chambers as a player, I like the USL signing guys like him. I think it bodes well for the growth of the league and BSFC’s ambitions.

      • I support Dundalk FC and follow the Irish League closely. Chambers is quality, and likely sees this as a try out for MLS.

        His opportunity to go to England has passed. Plus, and likely most important, the Irish League is generally part time professional, where players are on one year contracts, and the facilities are very poor. Most players need some other form of income to make ends meet. So signing a multi-year deal (as reported in Ireland) for something like $30K annually and train regularly with/beside a MLS team is a great opportunity to live in and see America.

        Don’t be surprised if you see Chambers in Union Blue before the end of the season as a depth player.

      • Thanks for clarifying the setup in Ireland. I sorta paid attention to how Langley was doing over there but I didn’t know how the league operates. Makes more sense, and I hope you’re right that Chambers performs well enough to make the Union. There are worse things than following in the footsteps of someone like Lewis Neal, who turned his USL experience into a MLS contract, or Ryan Guy who left St. Pat’s for the Revs.

  5. ALERT!!!!!
    Pulisic is on for his senior team debut with Borussia Dortmund!!!

    • From the web, before the game:
      “Zorc has until Monday to draw a new signing out of the hat, but for Saturday it might be Christian Pulisic to profit of Dortmund’s possible shortness of options for the attacking midfield. The 17-year-old player from the United States has received high praise from his coach and is a considerable choice to make his debut in the Westfalenstadion if the run of play allows it. If a prolific winter transfer won’t materialize, it would be the best case scenario for Dortmund to nurse a top talent like Pulisic into the senior team. FC Ingolstadt might not be the only ones to play the first time in the Westfalenstadion on Saturday after all.”

    • From the web DURING the game:
      “Pulisic has impressed since coming on and is finding plenty of joy down the left wing…”

    • From the web AFTER the game:
      “Dortmund’s three substitutes changed the game just as much as Aubameyang’s two goals did.
      Dortmund made a double change after 55 minutes, with Moritz Leitner and Gonzalo Castro replacing Julian Weigl and Shinji Kagawa, both of whom disappointed on the day.
      The team immediately looked more lively and started to at least create something.
      Incredibly, the game was blown open later on, when 17-year-old Christian Pulisic made his senior debut in the 70th minute. The U.S. youth international hardly put a foot wrong, looked quicker than almost every other player on the pitch and seemed to ignite his team-mates with his smooth touches of the ball.
      It’s not at all a coincidence that both of Dortmund’s goals came after these three had entered the pitch.
      Leitner, who made his first appearance in the Bundesliga all season, passed to Castro, who brilliantly found Aubameyang with a cutting pass through a tiny window, but he wouldn’t even have had that window if Pulisic hadn’t made an intelligent run to tie up two players.
      Going forward, it’s going to be difficult to put the brakes on the hype surrounding the 17-year-old, who genuinely looked like a difference-maker in his first outing at the senior level. As’s Liviu Bird tweeted, Pulisic has the potential to be the U.S.’ first “truly world-class player.”

    • Highlights:
      Pulisic’s “intelligent run” referenced above is at the 4:24 mark. Yes, indeed.
      I know it’s his first appearance, but he does not look at all overwhelmed or out of place. Correction in the affirmative: He looks like he belongs.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        This is all really cool.
        Pulisic… he captures my imagination… he has all the tools to be our first truly world class player…BVB appears to be an excellent fit for him and I cannot wait to watch the game after rising tomorrow.

      • Of course this is another instance where patience is difficult yet required considering he is only 17 but his debut is very, very exciting.
        Also we have to remind ourselves that he performance is also a product of playing on a quality team.
        That “intelligent run” is only intelligent because those around him knew what to do with the space he created.

      • I’m with you. Got a little excited last night. 🙂

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Rightly so I feel… Christian Pulisic has a lot of growing to do for sure but he is an exciting player has been since he was 8… I think it is okay then to be excited. Time is always the telling factor.
        He’s the real deal though.

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