2016 Keystone Derby will be sponsored by PA Lottery, exclude Bethlehem Steel

USL - United Soccer League News
At the Steel Army Annual General Meeting on February 20, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds announced that the 2016 Keystone Derby Cup would be sponsored by the Pennsylvania Lottery and would exclude Bethlehem Steel FC.

The meeting was held on Saturday at Highmark Stadium and featured appearances from players and members of the Riverhounds front office.

The Keystone Derby Cup was created in 2015 as a competition held between the two USL clubs in Pennsylvania, the Harrisburg City Islanders and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The Cup would be awarded to the club with the best head-to-head record over the USL regular season. The Riverhounds won the inaugural Keystone Derby with a record of 3-1.

When the Philadelphia Union announced their intention to create a club in the Lehigh Valley, supporters thought that the new club would be included in the Keystone Derby Cup. In the offseason, the Harrisburg City Islanders and Pittsburgh Riverhounds told PENN97 that there had been discussions to include Bethlehem, but one source admitted that it wasn’t a high priority for either club.

Since their creation last Fall, Bethlehem Steel FC have been barred from competing in the US Open Cup and now excluded from the Keystone Derby Cup.

The omission of Bethlehem Steel FC is a big disappointment to soccer fans who wanted to see a true competition between all of the clubs in the Keystone State. Some members of the East End Army, Bethlehem’s supporters group, were stoic when they heard the news.

“[I] think Harrisburg City Islanders and Bethlehem are going to have enough hate between the two of them without Pittsburgh. We’ll see,” said Evan Villella, a Steel FC supporter. “It’ll be fun to see how it plays out.”

Others were more frank. “That’s stupid,” said Heather Reppert.

The silver lining in the announcement is that the Keystone Derby Cup would be sponsored by the Pennsylvania Lottery. A sponsorship deal of any size can provide valuable resources for independent clubs at the USL level.

The 2016 Keystone Derby Cup will be contested between the Harrisburg City Islanders and Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The club with the best head-to-head record will be awarded the cup, with goal difference serving as a tiebreaker.

2016 Keystone Derby Cup Fixtures:

April 9, 7:00pm: HCI at PGH
July 4, 7:00pm: HCI at PGH
Aug 28, 7:00pm: PGH at HCI (FNB Park)


USL announces 2016 schedule, Keystone Derby fixtures

Yesterday, USL announced the 2016 schedule for the third division of American soccer. Expansion side Bethlehem Steel FC have the honor of playing in the inaugural match against FC Montreal in Canada on Friday, March 25.
The Harrisburg City Islanders will open their season away against the Richmond Kickers on Saturday, March 26. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds will wait until the following Saturday, April 2, when they host the defending USL Champions, Rochester Rhinos.
USL clubs will play each team in their conference two to three times. All Pennsylvania teams in the Eastern Conference would be guaranteed to play each other twice. Fortunately, the league elected for three games against each Pennsylvania state rival.
That means there are nine fixtures in the 2016 Keystone Derby Cup, beginning with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds hosting the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday, April 9 at 7:00pm.
(Editors Note: PENN97.com is operating under the assumption that Bethlehem Steel FC will be included in the 2016 Keystone Derby. As of last week, one club mentioned that they have “had some discussions,” but that the Keystone Derby was “not the most pressing issue.” We hope that this will become a more pressing issue as the clubs are contacted by their fans.)
If the Keystone Derby uses the same system from last season, the Cup will be award to the team with the best head-to-head record. In 2015, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds won the Keystone Derby Cup with a record of 3-1 against the Harrisburg City Islanders.
There are alternative ways to determine the champion, however. In the Cascadia Cup, a yearly competition held between the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, and Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS, teams are awarded three points for a victory and one point for a draw against their fellow Cup challengers. The team with the highest head-to-head point total wins the Cascadia Cup.
In both contests, the first tie-breaker is goal difference, which rewards teams for scoring as many goals as possible.
Whatever the format, the Keystone Derby Cup and USL season fixtures are set for the 2016 season.
Keystone Derby Fixture List:
  • Sat. 4/9 7pm – Pittsburgh host Harrisburg
  • Sun. 5/22 TBD – Harrisburg host Bethlehem
  • Mon. 7/4 7pm – Pittsburgh host Harrisburg
  • Sun. 7/10 TBD – Bethlehem host Pittsburgh
  • Thu. 7/21 TBD – Bethlehem host Harrisburg
  • Sat. 8/13 7pm – Pittsburgh host Bethlehem
  • Sat. 8/27 TBD – Harrisburg host Pittsburgh
  • Tue. 8/30 TBD – Harrisburg host Bethlehem
  • Sun. 9/18 TBD – Bethlehem host Pittsburgh

Harrisburg, Pittsburgh: Currently no plans to add Bethlehem to Keystone Derby

Bethlehem Steel FC may not compete with the Harrisburg City Islanders and Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the second annual Keystone Derby.

While some fans may have assumed that newly-announced Steel FC would be included in the state Derby, representatives from the City Islanders and Riverhounds told PENN97.com that there are no plans to include Bethlehem at this time.

The Keystone Derby was created as a joint venture between the Islanders and Riverhounds to promote competition between the two clubs. Pittsburgh won the 2015 Keystone Derby Cup, winning three of their four matches with Harrisburg.

The second match of the 2015 Keystone Derby, which saw the Hounds score three goals in stoppage to beat the Islanders 6-5, was selected by USLsoccer.com as one of “USL’s Best Moments of 2015.”

Considering the success of the 2015 Keystone Derby, the name of the cup, and the nature of the competition, it would be reasonable to include Bethlehem Steel FC in the Keystone Derby moving forward.

Harrisburg noted that while “There have not been any discussions” about the 2016 Keystone Derby format, the idea of adding Bethlehem was “not a bad idea” considering Steel FC are a new instate rival for both established Pennsylvania clubs.

Fortunately for Pennsylvania soccer supporters, there is still plenty of time for Pittsburgh and Harrisburg to discuss the addition of Bethlehem before the start of the 2016 season. The Keystone Derby was originally announced on March 25, 2015.