Prior to Wednesday night, the City Islanders had captured two of their last three with wins against Tampa Bay and Dayton. Shaking off a mid-season slump, the Islanders found themselves third in the USL table with less than three weeks to go in the USL Pro regular season. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs and the Islanders look a strong bet to be making some noise in the postseason.
Western road trip
The Islanders topped Phoenix FC 3-1 on Wednesday night with goals from Matt Bahner, Lucky Mkosana, and Jamiel Hardware. It was the first goal of the season for both Bahner and Hardware.
Bahner struck early in the first half giving the Islanders the lead heading into the break. Phoenix struck back at the start of the second half through Danny Toia and threatened on the counter attack throughout the match.
Lucky Mkosana headed the Islanders into the lead in the 67th as the Islanders controlled possession and created multiple chances. The goal was Mkosana’s 6th in his last 4 games.
A late diving save from Islanders keeper Nick Noble and an insurance goal in stoppage time from Jamiel Hardware would see the Islanders claim all 3 points and improve to 13-8-1 on the season.
Union loanees Jimmy McLaughlin (71′) and Cristhian Hernandez (87′) made substitute appearances but saw limited action with the game having become very direct as Phoenix searched for a late equalizer.
City Islanders head coach Bill Becher said after the game, “It was a good win against what I think is a pretty good team. We had a tough time both times we played them. But it was a good win on the road again. We’re 7-3 on the road and that’s pretty impressive.”
The Islanders continue their road trip on Saturday with a stop in Los Angeles (10:30 pm, USL Live). The Islanders dropped their last contest against LA Blues, 4-2, in a hard fought battle. LA is currently in playoff position and may very well match up with the Islanders in an early round playoff battle. The Islanders will then return home for a match up on Wednesday, August 7, with Charlotte at Skyline Sports Complex.
A new home for the Islanders?
Talk has once again commenced about a new home for the Islanders.
Representatives of the City Islanders and MLS affiliate Philadelphia Union have voiced their hope to see a stadium project completed in the next few years to replace or significantly upgrade Skyline Sports Complex, citing concerns about the rising level of competition and financial capability in the league. The whole project could cost as much as $8 million, with a portion of the funding hoped to come from public sources.
An economic and community impact study for the new stadium is being funded by a $25,000 grant from the Dauphin County Commissioners.
City Islander’s CEO Eric Pettis said Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ Highmark Stadium is what the club has in mind, “Something relatively modest but an upgrade.”
“The league is getting better,” Pettis explained. “It’s the thing we need to do to attract players, to attract sponsors to compete from a financial standpoint.”
While that may seem impossible from a nearly bankrupt City of Harrisburg, the Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals AA affiliate), playing next door at the recently renovated Metro Bank Park, were the beneficiaries of both state funding and a City of Harrisburg bond issue for renovations between 2008 and 2010.
Union’s CEO Nick Sakiewicz said in March, “We’ve got to get a proper stadium and playing field done here. We are very committed to helping Eric and his people do that.”