BETHLEHEM, PA (Aug. 4, 2016) — The Charlotte Independence (9-6-5) on Sunday afternoon conclude their four-match road trip with a rematch against Bethlehem Steel FC (6-8-7) at Goodman Stadium. Both clubs are very much alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, as Charlotte currently ranks sixth in the table with 32 points and Bethlehem ninth with 25 points. The top eight teams qualify for the postseason.
These teams first met in Charlotte back on June 10. The Steel scored an early goal and despite several opportunities created by the Independence, the Jacks were unable to find an equalizer. It was Cory Burke who scored in the 11th minute for Bethlehem. Following a series of corner kicks, Burke got behind a ball that was served of the Independence defense and beat goalkeeper John Berner.
The Independence now enter Bethlehem on a streak of five matches unbeaten on the road. Their last road loss was 2-1 at Orlando City B on May 28. While the Independence did lose back-to-back home games on July 9 and 16, they have earned seven total points in the three road games since, most recently coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw at the Charleston Battery on Wednesday, Aug. 3.
Forward Caleb Calvert scored the equalizer on Wednesday, and he now leads the Independence with six goals on the season. Charlotte is the only team in the USL with more than two players who have score five or more goals this season. In addition to Calvert’s six, Enzo Martinez and Jorge Herrera have each notched five goals of their own.
“I think the group’s got some confidence,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “We won two and then tied with Charleston on the road so we’ll go in with confidence. Bethlehem is a different group to play against in terms of how they play and what they do and their athleticism, so it will certainly be a difficult game in that respect. But I think we’ll be up for it and ready. (Friday) and Saturday are key days for us just to kind of get physically ready and also get maybe the mental preparation of fighting the fourth game on the road in the last two weeks.”
The Steel, meanwhile, are concluding a six-match home stand in which they have gone 2-2-1 in the previous five. Bethlehem most recently lost 3-2 to Toronto FC II at Goodman Stadium on July 31 after a 1-1 draw with the Rochester Rhinos on July 24.
Bethlehem captain Ryan Richter scored one goal against Toronto and assisted on the other. He now ranks second in points on the Steel roster with 10 (4g, 2a) , just behind Derrick Jones with 11 (4g, 3a).
The three goals allowed on July 31 matched a season high for goalkeeper Samir Badr, as the Steel also fell 3-2 to TFCII on July 6. In eight starts this season, Badr has posted a 71.8 save percentage and 1.38 goals against average. He also has recorded two shutouts, including the 1-0 victory over the Independence back on June 10.
The rematch between Charlotte and Bethlehem is scheduled for 4:00pm ET on Sunday, Aug. 7. The match will be available live on youtube.com/USL