Tuesday night at 7:00pm, the Harrisburg City Islanders will be lining up for their fourth annual friendly with the Union at Skyline Sports Complex. This is a fantastic event and a great opportunity for fans of both teams to come out and support local professional soccer. Previous installments of the game have been pretty competitive but both teams have generally given time to the majority of their rosters.
While the game itself will likely have little impact on either teams’ season, something to watch for will be for which team players line up.
Six Union players have seen time for the Harrisburg City Islanders this season, including fringe first team players Leo Fernandes, Don Anding, and Aaron Wheeler. Jimmy McLaughlin, Greg Jordan, and Cristhian Hernandez have spent much of the season with the Islanders and Jordan and Hernandez are consistent starters for the secondplace USL PRO team.
While who plays on which team in a friendly may seem trivial, and for players already under contract with the Union it might be, what if at halftime, one of the Islanders changed jerseys and played the second half for the Union? What if, that player wasn’t on the Union roster but was about to be signed from the Islanders instead? It may sound strange, but it’s already happened.
In 2010, at the first installment of the Islanders and Union friendly, Harrisburg City Islanders midfielder J.T. Noone changed jerseys at halftime and played the second half with the Union, and before long was announced as a Union signing.
Noone had gone undrafted in the 2010 Superdraft but found his way into Union preseason camp having played his college soccer at local Temple University. After not being signed by the Union, Noone caught on with the City Islanders and went on to be a major force in the midfield that year. After signing for the Union, Noone didn’t see a minute of action for the Union in MLS play before being released, but his signing was evidence of things to come. Sheanon Williams, who also played on the 2010 City Islanders team, would be signed by the Union from the Islanders approximately a month later and is the current all-time Union leader in minutes played and appearances. Of course, Union fans who had watched the preseason in 2010 had notions of this signing as Noone had been around the team for a considerable amount of time. Are any Islanders players likely to make a similar jersey change this year?
It’s hard to guess what Union coach John Hackworth has planned for the summer transfer window but current City Islanders Luckymore Mkosana, Morgan Langley, and Tom Brandt all have previous ties to the Union. Mkosana, a forward/winger has trialed with the Union in the past year; Brandt, a central defender was a supplemental draft selection of the Union in 2012; and Langley, an outside midfielder, actually signed for the Union after the 2011 USL season but was later released.
Islanders fans may not look kindly on having a fantastic team broken up by a mid-season departure but the Union coaches may be watching more than their own players in Tuesday night’s match.