The Union Dues visit a City Islanders Practice
On a unseasonably cold windy day in the countryside of Central Pennsylvania the Harrisburg City Islanders were hard at work.
Last night, a team of trialist played at Millersville University against St. Francis University, the Red Flash handed them a 2-1 defeat. More importantly, the match was an opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate their players in a live game against a real opponent. Today, the players were being evaluated at practice in a scrimmage on the outdoor turf field at In The Net sports complex in Palmyra, Pennsylvania.
Harrisburg has lost some key players from last year’s roster and is hoping these tryout can bring in new talent to replace the old. Important players that will not be returning to the City Islanders this year include defenders Bilal Duckett, Andrew Marshall, and Dustin Bixler and most recently, today midfielder JT Noone signed with VSI Tamp Bay FC. JT will be missed for his contribution of talent in the midfield and memorable goals including the game tying goal in stoppage time of the second overtime against New England in the US Open Cup last year.
Players from all different backgrounds were on trial for the Harrisburg City Islanders, including former academy players, players just out of college, international players, and players formerly from other pro clubs and even from MLS. Not only trial players were displaying their skill today but some of last year’s City Islanders were on hand getting their legs loose and ready for the season. Yann Ekra, the 22-year-old Ivory Coast native appeared to be in mid-season form today scoring a few dazzling goals as the snowflakes were falling allover the field. Other Harrisburg City Islanders from last year’s roster present today included: Collin Zizzi, Tom Mellor, Stephen Basso, Jason Pelletier, and former Philadelphia Union member Morgan Langley.
After practice, Coach Bill Belcher spoke with each of the trial players individually then following, Belcher answered a few questions. I asked him “with the partnership with the Philadelphia Union now “official,” what is he looking forward to the most?” he stated that he is looking forward to helping develop Union players and by having them get more playing time in meaningful matches at a competitive level. Following I asked if he knew who Harrisburg was going to be loaned from Philadelphia, Belcher said he has spoken with the Union, looked at some of their players, and knows who he will be getting but won’t share that until it is official. I asked about the upcoming schedule for his preseason training, he said the Islanders will likely sign 2 or 3 players this weekend and play mixed squad on Sunday in their next preseason friendly. He is still evaluating players and will begin tactical training when the roster size decreases. Lastly I asked “Do you have a timeframe of when the final roster will be announced?” Becher said “We will have our final roster sometime around the weekend of April 5th”.
Harrisburg’s next preseason match is this Sunday at 3PM at Cumberland Valley High School against the United States Naval Academy soccer team.