Union fans who head to Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday will have a rare opportunity to watch two games for the price of one. Bethlehem Steel, the Union’s USL affiliate, will play Indy Eleven at 4 p.m. after the Union face the Montreal Impact at 1 p.m. The single-ticket doubleheader is the first in the organization’s history.
“I’d say that there’s going to be at least two or three guys that play in this game for us that you’re going to see playing in a Union jersey at some point in the near future," Steel coach Brendan Burke said.
That includes some of the Union academy’s top prospects. Names to watch include 6-foot-3, 18-year-old centerback Ben Ofeimu, who is well on the way toward reaching MLS; and forward Shanyder Borgelin, a 17-year-old forward who turned pro earlier this month.
“Shanyder has made a really good adjustment to this level," Burke said "His instincts are good, he’s arriving in the right places, he is a handful physically.”
Fans might also see a few academy players who play for Steel as amateurs. That group is headlined by forward Jack de Vries, who turned 17 last month and has gotten looks from the U.S. under-17 national team.
“There’s a lot of really positive signs for where [de Vries] is going to end up," Burke said.
Two notable academy products will be absent: midfielder Selmir Miscic (16) and winger/outside back Issa Rayyan (18) are injured. Both players carry high expectations — especially Miscic, who turned pro last September amid interest from Bayern Munich and other European clubs.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind that he’s going to be a really good pro about this, and fight his way back into the group, and hopefully get his pro debut soon,” Burke said. “It’s overdue at this point, because he does have a technical quality that’s just different.”
Also absent will be Patrick Bohui, a 15-year-old forward who is one of the academy’s most intriguing young prospects. He has played two games for Bethlehem this year, and is currently with a Union youth team at the prestigious Generation Adidas Cup.
“A really bright kid who has adapted well,” Burke said. “This is the youngest we’ve ever introduced a field player and had them look very competent.”
Saturday won’t be the only chance to see these players in Chester. Bethlehem is playing all 17 of its home games this year at Talen Energy Stadium, after having to move out of Lehigh University’s football stadium due to the venue’s lack of floodlights. The Union hope to get Steel back to Bethlehem in the future if the right venue can be found.
Looking to expand outreach to Hispanics in the area, the Union announced Thursday that four games will be televised in Spanish on the region’s UniMás affiliate, WFPA. It is Channel 28 over the air, and is carried by Comcast (Channel 797), Verizon (26) and DirecTV (408).
The games are Saturday vs. Montreal, June 2 at Minnesota United, Sept. 29 at the Columbus Crew and the regular-season finale Oct. 6 vs. New York City FC. The last two contests could be flexed to national television.
"As we look to expand our fan base and our footprint within the Delaware Valley, it was important for us to have a Spanish-language broadcast,” Union chief business officer Tim McDermott said in a statement. “Philadelphia’s Spanish-speaking population is an important and growing demographic and it’s vital for us to continue to reach out to them.”