Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Zach Zandi

Maybe you haven’t heard of Zach Zandi before, but the Bethlehem Steel midfielder seems intent on changing that.

This weekend, Zandi created one goal and scored another in his professional debut to lead Bethlehem to an opening day road win over a Birmingham Legion side comprised mostly of former MLS players. He also completed 37 of 42 passes and was generally solid throughout.

Zandi, 22, hails from West Chester, Pa. He played his college ball at Villanova and in PDL for Reading United, and he’s a product of the Philadelphia Union Academy as well.

Check out the game’s highlights, which include Zandi’s goal and a pinpoint cross that created the first goal.

Honorable mention
  • C.J. Sapong. Until noticing Zandi’s big debut, we were ready to break our occasionally malleable unwritten rule that we only give this award to players currently with Philly-area teams or who originally hail from the area. That’s the kind of moment C.J. Sapong had when he scored a last minute equalizer for Chicago. Sapong may have struggled last year for the Union and needed a change of scenery, but there should be few Union fans not rooting for him.
  • James Chambers and Anthony Fontana. OK, so maybe it’s just because of one sequence, but the highlight reel below from Steel is absolutely ridiculous and leaves us wondering when we’re going to see Fontana back with the Union and if it’s remotely possible that the 32-year-old Chambers ever gets a shot at MLS too. Here’s to hoping.

5 Comments

  1. OneManWolfpack says:

    As long as Jim still runs the team… We’ll never see Chambers and we MIGHT see Fontana. Frustrating as hell…

  2. Fontana is under-studying Ale Bedoya, from my perspective.
    .
    They believe he might learn to be a dominating player, in my guess of what they may be thinking. This is his year to do that at the USLC level.
    .
    Recall, or let me remind you, that until the last third — roughly — of the season last year he was playing as a 10, the Marco Fabian / Brenden Aaronson position. Had been playing there primarily when with Bethlehem since he was 16, although not exclusively.
    .
    When Aaronson recovered from his broken collarbone, Fontana shifted to the 8 in the old system and was noticeably better immediately in terms of the effect he had on games. Go back and look at the tape of the playoff match against Pittsburgh last year.
    .
    Referring to Coach Burke’s general comments that players will get 12-24 months or so with Bethlehem to make the jump to the first team (except for Miscic and possibly Aaronson), Fontana is now getting his shot at being an Ale Bedoya rather than a Marco Fabian/Borek Dockal.
    .
    IMO he did well with it against an expansion side’s first game ever. Let’s see how he does against Noreth Carolina next week, presuming that he will be in Steel FC’s lineup at the same spot.

  3. In re Chambers, his commitment, and the organization’s for him, is to the player development squad.
    .
    Reports last year suggest he was good working with the U11s in the Academy setup.
    .
    It is possible that sometime in the next decade if he ever decides to hang up his boots, he may transition into coaching for the academy.
    .
    The last time he was absent from Bethlehem to train with the first team was three preseasons ago for the first two weeks in FL in 2017. He stayed north in 2018 from the beginning, and arrived in FL because that’s where Bethlehem were.
    .
    It is my firm opinion that one of the reasons Burke is not playing the diamond in the midfield is that it allows him to better utilize Chambers strengths and mitigate some what his major weakness, pace.
    .
    He will do for Ben Ofeimu, 18, and Jamoi Topey, 19, Bethlehem’s center backs what we wish were happening for Trusty and Elliott on the first team, protect them.
    .

    The organization seems to be judging that he does a greater service at the development level than he would with the first club.
    .

    It reminds me of the way the Atlanta Braves used Johnny Sain as a roving pitching instructor in the minors rather than as pitching coach for the first team.

  4. That sequence is the stuff of street ball and summer dusk dreams as a child.
    .
    Not that I had any of that skill… key word: dreams.

  5. Bring Steel Back to Bethlehem says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has thought about Chambers getting a shot with the Union. There’s no question he lacks pace, but Harris isn’t exactly Kante out there. Chambers always gives everything he’s got and he has experience managing most of these kids on the field. He could help organize the team – especially the backline.

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