Philadelphia Union II

Union injury rehabs pose questions for shorthanded Bethlehem side

Photo courtesy of USL

Bethlehem Steel FC’s short-handed, come-from-behind draw with Richmond Kickers on Saturday illustrated the Steel’s medical rehabilitation role for the first team.

Fabian Herbers played very well for the first 20 minutes, although he was not wearing his shooting boots and thus, he came off after half an hour. Brian Carroll played well for nearly an hour, which should bring smiles to Union fans’ concerned about his troublesome back injuries.

But the game also raises a question for the Steel from a player development point-of-view.

Because the United Soccer League brought its substitution rule into line this season with other professional soccer leagues, the Steel had only one discretionary substitution available to them as neither Herbers nor Carroll were permitted to play a full 90 minutes for medical reasons.

Bethlehem needed two of them as red-carded center back Hugh Roberts had to be replaced by a defender, so Matt Mahoney came on for Anthony Fontana. Seku Conneh then pulled up lame apparently (though unconfirmed) with a cramp. The medical staff allowed him to continue to play since he did not have since he not have a pull that could evolve into a severe tear.

From a brutally selfish, short-sighted first-team perspective, not being able to replace the farm team’s leading scorer is just the breaks. But neither Earnie Stewart nor Jim Curtin are brutally selfish or short-sighted. Each can make tough command decisions a la Sebastian Le Toux or Conor Casey, but risking a 21-year-old striker is not in either’s long-term self-interest.

The question then becomes, “Are the risks inherent in two simultaneous medical rehabilitation assignments to the Steel worth it?” Stewart and Curtin will need to figure out that answer going forward.


  1. I get if we have 2 important players that need some rehab training. Brian Carroll does not fit that description and should not have been out there if he couldn’t go the full 90, and honestly shouldn’t be out there anyway.

    • I would argue that herbers was the bigger issue here. 30 minutes? If that’s the ceiling, bring him off the bench in that game, to better allow for the unforeseen subs needed.

      • Yeah, but Herbers has a role on the Union and Carroll doesn’t. And it’s a priority to get him minutes over unforeseen subs later.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    BC may be more important than we think.
    He went to KC, and is probably a better option to back up the double pivot than is Ken Tribbett, as well as Tribbett has been playing there for the Steel.

    • Yeah, but Creavalle will be back soon and he’s above Carroll. Carroll is 4th on the depth chart there.

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