A few weeks after our last feature, SmallWorld is back with another one!
If you missed the story of Bright Stars SC, you’ll definitely want to check it out here!
Now that you’re all caught up, though, there’s another great club to bring your attention to. They’re out of Pittsburgh, PA, and in my opinion, they’re seriously on the rise.
Brian Luchini is the manager of Steel, and he was kind enough to shed some light on Steel and what they’re up to.
First, he gave me a bit of background on his path to starting Steel:
I played soccer since a young age and all through college until I graduated in 2014. Like many others, after college I was looking to keep playing. I gathered friends from around the area and we started playing in different leagues. Through this, I met new players and recruited them to my team.Brian Luchini, Steel FC manager
Brian didn’t just form a team quickly, though. He formed a good team quickly.
My team became competitive to a point where we wanted to try our skills in the best league in Pittsburgh, the GPSL. In 2015 we did just that and moved up 3 divisions in 4 years. We now play in the top division, the Premier Division.Brian “Veni, Vidi, Vici” Luchini
I’ve tried my skills at a lot of things in my life, and I’m pretty sure none of those attempts have been anywhere near as successful as this. I think I need Brian to counsel me on my dating life.
Nonetheless, they’ve proven themselves not just by reaching the top of the GPSL, but also in the way they’ve accomplished it.
I have been very pleased with the way my team has been playing. 2020 is our third year competing in the Premier Division. [In] our first year, we took fourth in the standings with an 8-6 record but made it to the final. This past year, we again came runner up in the final.Brian Luchini (pls tell me how to be this successful with a woman)
They’ve even had a taste of playoff soccer in their short history as well!
In 2019, we competed in the USASA Amateur Cup and for our first time competing, we got to the Region One final by beating Christos FC and Philadelphia Lone Star, losing to eventual overall champion, Newtown Pride.Brian (DANG IT BRYAN WHY DOES EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH TURN TO GOLD)
Okay, I lied. Two tastes.
We also participated in the Open Cup this past year and made it to the third qualifying round, beating Germantown City FC and Tartan Devils FC. One more win and we would’ve been in the tournament proper, but we lost 3-2 down in Maryland to Christos FC.Brian (I guess double dipping is fine in this context)
Steady growth on the pitch and an opportunity for local players to keep playing? That’s a pretty strong start already. Also, they almost made the US Open Cup proper in their first go at it. That’s pretty incredible.
But if there’s anything SmallWorld has discovered from all our content-gathering over the years, it’s that there’s always something even more special about lower-league soccer clubs than meets the eye.
Steel FC, as it happens, is no exception.
To find what’s so special about Steel, you need only look within their name.
Our name is exactly what it stands for, Steel. Pittsburgh is a hardworking, blue-collar, town with a rich history of Steel Mills. That’s where Steel FC comes from. It’s a simple name that clearly shows our roots.Brian
So then, Steel is really out to do more than be successful on the field (because that’s apparently too easy for them); they’re really out to represent their town.
Pittsburgh is a pretty large metro area, though, and a major sports hub. Haven’t other lower-league clubs already done something like this on a larger scale, you ask? Well, you might be surprised (as I was myself) to hear that this hasn’t really happened in Pittsburgh before.
In Pittsburgh there is barely a lower league following. While this does hinder us, it also is an opportunity for us to show what we are made of and hopefully attract fans along the way.Brian Luchini, always full of surprises
Once I thought about it, I began to realize how few names of clubs I could come up with in the Pittsburgh area.
On the one hand, it’s unfortunate that such a small club is the closest thing Pittsburgh has to a lower-league juggernaut it deserves. But in reality, it’s an almost perfect scenario.
It feels so Pittsburgh for a smal club like Steel to have a dream, take the initiative to make it happen, succeed instantly, grow like crazy, and hustle until it makes a name for itself, representing the city the entire time.
Steel doesn’t have the fan base of a Detroit City or a Providence City or a Minneapolis City or any other City. Brian is quick to admit that.
To be honest, because we are a new team in the Premier Division, our fan base is small.Brian
But he’ll just as readily tell you that he doesn’t plan to keep it that way for long.
We are growing online and have started to get a few fans in the crowd. We hope to build more of that in 2020 if we have a season.Brian
There almost certainly won’t be a season at this point, but that’s no matter. Brian hasn’t let any obstacle stop Steel’s growth yet, and there’s no indication that’ll change any time soon.
When, and not if, Steel FC becomes the next lower-league club with a cult following, it’ll be a club that’s true to Pittsburgh. It’ll be a club that remembers its roots and calls upon a successful past to usher in a successful future.
Brian probably puts it best:
The main inspiration we have to keep on going and to become elite is because we want to win.Brian
It’s that simple. Steel is true to its name, true to its city, and will be true to its word: they’re going to be elite, and they’re going to win.
In order to do it, though, they’ll need support. If you live in the area, that’s a pretty easy task. When things do pick back up again on the pitch, Brian invites you to come out to a match and meet the squad.
He’s also been hard at work creating great merchandise to offer, though, so if you’d like to support from afar, you’ll want to check out their merch on offer. They’ve got a great new kit designed by Icarus FC, and a new scarf should be coming out soon, too!
In case you were on the fence about why you should go and support Steel, this is where all that support goes.
All money helps go towards funding. Because we are not sponsored, my players pay for everything out of pocket. Your purchases help us pay for our 2020 GPSL season along with the costs of competing in regional and national tournaments.Brian
This should go without saying, but Steel definitely deserves all the support it can get. It’s really going somewhere special, and you can help that happen sooner rather than later.
Thanks to Brian Luchini for all he’s doing to make Steel FC great, and special thanks to him for his time in sharing what he’s up to.
Support local soccer, unify those around you, and seek out diversity!