Photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel FC
BETHELEHEM, Pa. – As Bethlehem Steel FC prepared for Saturday’s clash with in-state rival the Harrisburg City Islanders, Canadian forward Chris Nanco was ready to make a difference knowing his chance was likely to come.
“The coaching staff told me last week that it had put forward my best week of training and that I could be given a chance to play on Saturday,” Nanco said. “When I finally heard my number being called, I just wanted to make the most of the opportunity.”
Less than five minutes after coming on an hour into the contest at FNB Field, Nanco had his first professional goal under his belt. While the equalizer on the night would give way to a late City Islanders winner by Cardel Benbow, denying Steel FC its fourth point of the young season, the manner in which Nanco performed lived up to the expectations Steel FC’s coaching staff had after his strong progression early in his rookie season.
“Based on Nanco’s training habits and his understanding of how we want to press and the intensity we want to play at, he’s been doing everything right,” said Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke. “Much in the same way that Seku [Conneh] has progressed in preseason, Nanco had a much shorter preseason with us but he’s progressed in a very similar way now to the point where we were looking forward to seeing him in a game, and he reaffirmed what we were hoping we were going to see.”
A former Syracuse University standout, and Third Round selection the Philadelphia Union in January’s MLS SuperDraft, Nanco had certainly hoped to make an impact in his professional debut. That the goal arrived so quickly was a surprise even to him, though.
“I didn’t know my first goal would come so quickly into the match,” Nanco said. “I just wanted to come onto the field and somehow make an impact and raise the intensity with my speed. I’m really glad that everything worked out the way it did and getting that first goal was something special for me.”
With Steel FC getting set to take on Orlando City B this Sunday at Goodman Stadium, Nanco may be on the verge of more minutes as Bethlehem takes stock of its attacking options.
“I think we would be crazy not to feature him more and more until we see a sign of regression, but that was a great introduction,” said Burke. “He should have had a goal and an assist, most likely, walking away from that one.”