The City Islanders will kick off their 2014 season this Saturday, April 5th at Legion Stadium against the Wilmington Hammerheads (7:30 pm: YouTube, NSCAATV.com). A win in this first match could skyrocket them up in the early standings, and build momentum for the rest of the season. The only team with more than three points currently is LA Galaxy II, who sits in first place with four points off of two matches. Harrisburg might enter the season struggling with fitness and form however, as they have only played two of their scheduled five preseason matches. Two of the games were canceled due to weather, and a third was canceled because the opponent did not have enough players to travel. The team has also added a large amount of players very late into preseason training camp and it may take some more time for the team to gel after such a large shakeup of the roster from the previous season.
The City Islanders recently announced that a new stadium is in the works. The new facility is scheduled to open in 2016 and will contain 4,500 seats. The project also includes plans to build all new infrastructure, including a press box, locker rooms, and concessions. The project is estimated to cost the team $14 million and will be privately financed, with no money from the City of Harrisburg being spent on the project. In-state rival the Pittsburgh Riverhounds opened a similar privately financed stadium last season and recently filled for bankruptcy to restructure their debt.
March 22, 3-1 victory over Penn State
In the first preseason match of 2014, the Islanders managed to put together a solid win. New signings Edinho Júnior and Clesio Bauque scored for Harrisburg. Both attackers are putting in strong arguments to be included in the starting lineups for the 2014 season.
March 23, 1-1 draw with Navy
The Islanders’ goal came through new Portuguese signing Edinho Júnior, who has scored in both preseason matches for the Islanders. Morgan Langley provided the assist. This match ended up being the last preseason game for Harrisburg, as the final preseason match against Maryland was canceled due to rain.
Current record: 1-0-1 in preseason play
While announcing a few more new player signings, Harrisburg also announced that starting defender Stephen Basso will not be returning for 2014. Basso was a key figure in the defense in recent years. The Islanders did add left back Raphael Cox, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, to add defensive depth to the team. Homegrown player Danny DiPrima was also signed to the team. The local midfielder formerly played in Harrisburg’s youth academy and graduated from Northern York High School. He played most recently for North Carolina State University. Robbie Derschang, who was recently cut by the Union after being selected in this year’s draft, has signed with the Islanders. The 22 year old out of Englewood, Colorado played college ball at both SMU and Akron.
Union on loan
The Philadelphia Union have completed the loan transfers of four players to the Islanders for the 2014 season. This will allow them to gain extra playing time in Harrisburg, while also moving back to the Union for important games, or when the team needs more depth due to injuries. Expect to see these players in both team’s colors at different parts of the season.
Cristian Hernandez: Hernandez will return to the Islanders for a second season. While loaned out to Harrisburg last year, the 20 year old scored four goals while appearing in 20 matches. Hernandez is most well known for scoring the winning goal for the Union against Everton FC.
Jimmy McLaughlin: McLaughlin will also be returning for a second season loan. The 20 year old Bryn Mawr, PA native tallied 5 goals in 30 matches for the Islanders.
Richie Marquez: Marquez, a 21 year old from California, was selected with the 44th overall pick by the Union in the 2014 draft. Then he unexpectedly beat out multiple other defenders in Philadelphia’s training camp to earn himself a contract with the MLS club.
Pedro Ribeiro: Ribeiro has played for the Union’s PDL affiliate club, Reading United. The 23 year old Brazilian midfielder also played for Coastal Carolina in college. The Union selected Ribeiro 15th overall.
Saturday April 5th, at Wilmington
Saturday April 19th, vs Dayton