Press conference notes

Notes from Brendan Burke’s weekly Bethlehem Steel press conference

Bethlehem Steel are away on Saturday to Richmond for their third game in a stretch of five consecutive away games. On Thursday, head coach Brendan Burke spoke to reporters about the game. Below are some highlights from his comments:

Roster for Richmond Kickers game

Burke said he did not yet know the specifics of his roster for the Steel’s game away to Richmond Kickers Saturday night because first team decisions for the Union’s home game on Saturday against Vancouver have not yet been reached. Burke said he expects few game day roster additions from either the first team or the academy (who are at the US Soccer Development Academy Playoffs in Frisco, Texas). Auston Trusty will be with the Steel. Burke said it is likely they will have to play this game with their USL roster.

Eric Ayuk is back from international duty. While he trained with the first team on Thursday, he will go back on international duty with the Cameroon U-21 team soon. Burke indicated Ayuk’s game status is more appropriately addressed by the first team.

On the training routine

The first team and the Steel train on the same field at the practice complex, the first team earlier, the Steel immediately after. The “training manual” for practice is exactly the same for each squad from First Team to Steel to Academy U-18s to Academy U-16s and so forth. All teams in the organization follow the first team’s pattern, making it easy for players to flow without restriction from level to level. On Thursday, three Steel players trained with the first team and two first teamers were with the Steel. Since the rhythms of the two teams’ schedules are different, levels of intensity on any given day are different, of course.

On what Earnie Stewart brings to the team

When asked, Coach Burke instantly, decisively characterized Earnie Stewart’s presence as “Constant!” He said the Sporting Director attends every Steel game, and every training session, that the man is “tireless.” He gives clear direction and feedback at training. He asks his coaches for input, and for their responses to his. Burke stated that his own development as a coach has benefited from the Sporting Director’s feedback, and he gave his opinion that Jim Curtin would agree with him. Sounds like Earnie is teaching.

Praise for Seku Conneh

Burke complimented Seku Conneh on his play at Wilmington last Friday evening. He said the assignment was hard for Conneh as he had to play constantly on both sides of the ball. The requirement stressed his “tank,” [conditioning level]. The game plan was to get a goal in the first twenty minutes, and the goal mirrored training exercises from the week prior to the game. He complimented Conneh on separating from the Hammerhead’s left back before splitting the pair of Wilmington backs to run onto and chip home Derrick Jones’s excellent service.

How BSFC benefits the Union Academy

Burke said he believes the Academy players in Frisco who have seen minutes for the Steel are showing a level of comfort that reflects their having played against “men” for the Steel. He asserted that only a few other organizations have had as many academy players get USL field time as has Philadelphia.

Looking ahead

Burke noted that something like nine of the Steel’s final fourteen games are at home, and mentioned that while making the playoffs is “not our primary purpose,” making a run “would go a long way” with the team, himself included.

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