The newest minor-league professional sports team to debut in the Greater Lehigh Valley finally has a name:
Bethlehem Steel Football Club, or Bethlehem Steel FC.
The soccer team, which will play at Lehigh University, unveiled its name, logo and colors this morning at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. The team name was decided by a fan vote.
“This is the most exciting time,” said Jim Curtin, coach of the Philadelphia Union, the Major League Soccer team that owns Bethlehem Steel FC. “This is going to be a huge step for our club, and the city of Bethlehem deserves this.”
The Bethlehem Steel FC logo and colors pull elements from the Union’s identity and complement the rich history and soccer success in the Bethlehem area. The color scheme will sport Philadelphia Union blue and gold, along with red to reflect the original Bethlehem team from the early 1900s.
The team logo consists of an elongated version of the original Bethlehem Steel Football Club crest, a historic ball to reflect the storied history of soccer in the area and rivets to symbolize the joining of the two clubs. The focal point of the logo consists of a snake coiled around the iconic Bethlehem Steel I-beam to demonstrate the blending of the Union and Bethlehem Steel FC. Bethlehem Steel, of course, is the now-defunct steel giant that for more than a century helped to shape the economy of the region.
Bethlehem Steel FC will be in the United Soccer League and be an affiliate of the Union. Major League Soccer is the nation’s highest level of professional soccer, with games frequently broadcast on the ESPN networks.
Bethlehem Steel FC, which will play its home games at Goodman Stadium on Lehigh’s Mountaintop campus, is one of 27 teams in the United Soccer League. It will debut in March, along with new teams from Cincinnati and Rio Grande, Texas.
The 16,000-seat Goodman Stadium is home to Lehigh’s college football team.
Philadelphia is the ninth MLS team to independently own and operate a USL club; 11 other MLS clubs have affiliates with teams in the United Soccer League.
Dating to 1907, the original Bethlehem Steel Football Club was a team that many considered the first American soccer team. Despite ending in 1930, Bethlehem Steel is still tied for the most U.S. Open Cup titles in the tournament´s 102-year history, winning in 1915, 1916, 1918, 1919 and 1926.
Soon, there will be an open tryout for Bethlehem Steel FC. Details will be announced.