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Steel FC’s Romero Breaks New Ground

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 04/08/17, 11:19AM EDT


16-year-old became youngest goalkeeper in USL history last Saturday

Photo courtesy Patrick Jacoby / Bethelehem Steel FC

BETHELEHEM, Pa. – In a starting lineup that included former U.S. international Charlie Davies, MLS veteran Brian Carroll, and current U.S. U20 international Auston Trusty, there were certainly some notable names that took to the field for Bethlehem Steel FC last Saturday in its opening game of the season.

Maybe at the top of the list, though, was goalkeeper Tomas Romero, who became the youngest goalkeeper to appear in a USL regular season contest at the age of just 16 years old.

“I was a little nervous and it took a while for it to hit me that I would actually be starting in a professional match,” Romero said this week. “My first thought was that I would be going up against men that nearly double my age, bigger and maybe stronger than me, but my path had prepared me for the opportunity.”

On the face of it, Romero’s path to starting for Steel FC began late last season, when he was named in the game day squad for the side’s game with the Charleston Battery on Sept. 10. From there, he spent time with the Philadelphia Union’s squad this preseason as they trained in Florida.

But in reality, it was a moment that had been coming since Romero first enrolled as an eighth-grader at the Union’s Academy.

“When I first arrived at the facilities, it felt like I was already a professional soccer player at that moment,” Romero said. “That moment has stuck with me and to now be training with professionals daily is something special.”

Romero’s prowess has also seen him called up to El Salvador’s U17 National Team, where his experience with Steel FC could prove invaluable at the end of this month. With the side drawn against both Mexico and the United States, as well as Jamaica, for CONCACAF U17 World Cup Qualifying, getting out of the group later this month could be a tall order, but it’s one Romero is looking forward to taking on.

“Playing for El Salvador is once again a completely different challenge,” he said. “The level of play on the international stage is obviously quite different and the style of play is also a challenge. However, it’s great experience for me because I get to see the different aspects of soccer and compete against some of the best players in my age group.”

Photo courtesy Patrick Jacoby / Bethelehem Steel FC

In rare company alongside the likes of current Vancouver Whitecaps FC Homegrown Alphonso Davies – who was just 15 when he became the youngest player and goal-scorer in USL history for WFC2 – and New York Red Bulls’ Tyler Adams – also 16 when he made his professional debut as the Red Bulls II’s first signing – Romero is now facing a new reality, and opportunity, head-on.

“I remember at the start of last year, it started to hit me all the normal teenage things that I would be giving up to focus on soccer,” he said. “But as the weeks and months moved along, I began to realize that this is something that I want to do because all the hard work has paid off as I’ve progressed in my youth career.”

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