Harrisburg City Islanders

Harrisburg Report: Two for two

Photo: Courtesy of Harrisburg City Islanders

That rough start to Harrisburg’s season? Well … it’s over.

Two big wins last week put the season’s unsteady beginnings in the rear view mirror. Here’s a look.

4-0 Win over Valley United Sonic

In their first US Open Cup outing this year, Harrisburg made a statement against the Leigh Valley United Sonic. Fresh off a win against GPS Portland Phoenix in the first round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, LVU were looking to take advantage of an out of form Islanders squad to play their way into the third round. After a goalless first half, Jose Barril would score his first for Harrisburg in the 48th minute. The Islanders would apply steady pressure for the rest of the half, being rewarded with goals by Garret Pettis, Clesio Bauque, and Danny DiPrima, ending the match 4-0.

With that victory, the Isles advance to the third round of the US Open Cup to face the Baltimore Bohemians. The winner of that match will go on to face the Philadelphia Union in the fourth round.

5-3 win over Dayton Dutch Lions

A wild game on the island saw the Islanders and the Dutch Lions combine for eight goals, with the Islanders earning their first home win this season.

It was an open game from the start. Columbus Crew loanee Aaron Schoenfeld outmuscled Matt Bahner in the box, winning a loose ball and putting Dayton up 1-0 in the first minute. Harrisburg responded well, slowing the pace down and controlling the ball in spite of the early deficit. After dispossessing Dayton, Morgan Langley found Bauque with a cutting ball over the top. Clesio took the keeper out of the play with one move and slid the ball into the empty net to tie the game. Bauque would put another past Dayton’s Matt Williams in the 23rd minute, this time off a free kick just outside the box.

The first 25 minutes of the second half would play out almost the exact opposite. This time it was Harrisburg scoring an early goal in the 47th minute, with Luan Silva’s free kick from the right wing settling to Neil Shaffer’s feet. This time it would be Dayton answering back with two quick goals in the 65th and 69th minute from Eli Garner and Schoenfeld, respectively.

Harrisburg would find a fourth goal in the 83rd minute. Late second half sub Jimmy McLaughlin’s cross settled at Langley’s feet just outside the six-yard box, and Langley’s outstretched right boot would put slip the box by Williams, giving the Islanders the lead late in the game. Morgan Langley would pick up his second of the day with an excellent heads-up play at midfield. Sloppy passing between Dutch Lion defenders would result in a turnover, and with the Dayton keeper pushed up the field after hitting a long ball over the top, Langley shot from about 75 yards out to seal the Islanders 5-3 victory.

A huge day for Harrisburg would see an end to their home losing streak. With two wins in two games this week, Harrisburg looks to be gaining momentum. Recent additions Luan Silva and Jose Barril have been helping to spark this Islanders attack, leading to a pair of explosive victories. It’s good to see an open, attacking team rewarded for their efforts. Bauque and Langley would both end up on this week’s Team of the Week, with Shaffer and Matt Bahner earning honorable mentions.

Of particular note for this game is the uniforms Harrisburg had on. The Islanders were sporting white and pink kits, advertising the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. They’re currently auctioning off the uniforms worn that day, with all proceeds going toward the PA BCC.

Current Record: 2-4-1, 12th place


Clesio Bauque scored his first regular season goal for Harrisburg on Saturday, and it wasn’t long after that he scored his second goal. Bauque has proved himself time and again to be the focal point of this offense, and it showed on Saturday. With two goals in the first half, it would be hard to outdo Clesio…

…but that’s exactly what Morgan Langley did against Dayton. Just to tally up his stats for Saturday, Langley had an assist on the first goal, he drew the foul to earn the free kick for the second goal, fought through defenders to score the fourth, and hit the net for the fifth goal from midfield. Langley was in rare form this weekend. While Clesio ended up in the USL’s Team of the Week, it would be Langley who earned the Player of the Week honors.

The man up top

The Islanders have gone through a number of central forwards this year, looking for the right piece for their offensive puzzle. In chronological order, the Islanders have started Edinho Junior, Bauque, Garret Pettis, and Barril at center forward in their front three. That’s four center forwards in eight games. Clearly, Harrisburg is still trying to work out kinks in their front six. Each has brought a bit of a stylistic difference to the position, with varying degrees of success.

Edinho Junior was the first to get a run in the center and hasn’t really seemed to click with the offense yet. Being a bit of a smaller forward, he struggled to contribute outside of cutting runs into space behind the back line. It’s created some scoring chances, but Edinho has been an inconsistent option at best.

There are a few reasons Clesio Bauque should not be Harrisburg’s center forward. Probably the best reason is his success at right wing. With time and space out wide, Bauque has been phenomenal, tearing up defenses and haunting the dreams of every left back in the league. He’s shown an ability to take defenders on one on one, cut inside to shoot, deliver excellent service, and make cutting runs into the box, all from the winger position. Using him in the middle seems like too much of a waste.

Garret Pettis has shown a lot of poise thus far. Coming off a season ending injury last year, Pettis has shown himself to be the most all-around forward on the roster, proving his proficiency in the air and showing good hold up play in his appearances to date. Getting the midfielders involved seems to be a step in the right direction for this offense. If Pettis is going to trend closer to a target man than our other forward options, I would like to see him win more crosses. At this point the Islanders have a handful of players capable of creating service, there’s just no one to get on the end of those crosses.

Jose Barril has made an immediate impact on the Islanders. Currently, they’re 2-0-0 with him in the starting eleven. The Real Madrid product has been active in the games he’s played so far, showing an uncanny ability to appear exactly where he’s needed to support the attack. He’s put a few decent chances on net so far, but the main contributions Barril has made have come in the form of his hold up play, distribution, and supportive strength. He fills a very specific niche, but he does it well.

The Islanders have had scoring issues all year, and it seems odd that a false 9 in a distribution-oriented role would solve that issue. But it does make a lot of sense for the type of team this is. The Islanders main strength has come through their wing play, with Langley, Bauque, and McLaughlin all given the freedom to take on defenders, cross inside, get into the box, or shoot. So much of the offense is built around their wingers. The next time you see an Islanders game, pay special attention to how the midfield shifts when Bauque is on the ball. Zizzi will push farther up the field to act as an outlet. Silva will slide over toward the right wing, and Shaffer will put himself right on the edge of the box. Langley cuts way inside, ending up around the penalty kick spot. The Islanders build up play relies on well spaced passing options and good ball movement, but once they’re inside the final third, they absolutely overload one side. Having a forward who can alternate between making an overlapping run, holding the ball up with his back to goal, and moving to the back post behind the opposite side winger is exactly the sort of forward Harrisburg needs. It plays perfectly into their strengths.

I expect we will be seeing a lot of Jose Barril this year.

Union on Loan

Richie Marquez had a mixed performance. While Bahner was moved off the ball somewhat easily, it was Marquez’s pass that began the attack for Dayton. Outside of that, however, he played very well. A handful of goal-saving slide tackles showed how well he kept his poise, despite the defensive troubles.

Jimmy McLaughlin came off the bench again against Dayton and proved to be an effective spark. The change of pace he offered is what lead to the Islanders’ 4th goal; though the cross took a lucky bounce off a Dutch Lions defender’s foot, McLaughlin had been getting into dangerous areas consistently before then. Sometimes it just takes a bit of luck to make your persistence pay off.

Pedro Ribeiro and Cristhian Hernandez did not feature in either game this week. Ethan White was recalled to Philadelphia ahead of their Wednesday night game against Sporting Kansas City.

Upcoming Games
  • US Open Cup: The Islanders are set to play the  PDL side Baltimore Bohemians on May 28th at Calvert Hall College High School; Towson, MD, at 5:30 pm, barring any last minute announcements from US Soccer. The winner of this match will go on to play the Philadelphia Union. If the Islanders win, that match would take place on June 17th, at PPL Park in Chester, PA, at 7pm.
  • Saturday, May 31 vs Richmond (7pm, tickets)
  • Sunday, June 1 at Pittsburgh (6pm, NSCAA TV, Youtube)


  1. Please tell me there is a GIF of Clesio Bauque’s quadruple back-flip celebration after his second goal?!?!??

  2. joao Abreu says:

    I like to know more about Clesio Bauque,because I sow him growing as a player at machava stadium in maputo,in the time he was playing for is formatiom time Ferroviario de Maputo;I whish him a good season and return very soon to the Portuguese time SLBenfica and to represent Mozambique National Time.Abreu

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