On a sunny seventy-four degree afternoon on City Island in the middle of the Susquehanna River the Harrisburg City Islanders were set to play the second leg of their interleague matches with the Colorado Rapids Reserves. Due to a partnership between USL PRO and MLS each USL PRO team will play two matches against an MLS Reserve League team. Harrisburg won their first leg against Colorado in April.
Harrisburg City Islanders Starting XI: GK- Nick Noble, Stephen Basso, Greg Jordan, Coady Andrews, Collin Zizzi, Jason Pelletier, Andrew Ribeiro, Yann Ekra, Tom Mellor, Morgan Lagnley, Sainey Touray
Colorado Rapids Reserves Starting XI: GK- Andrew Epstein, Davy Armstrong, Brenton Griffiths, German Mera, Kory Kindle, Tony Cascio, Nick LaBrocca, Anthony Wallace, Kevin Harbottle, Kamani Hill, Danny Mwanga
Note: 2010 first overall MLS draft pick of the Philadelphia Union, Mwanga, started for the Rapids’ Reserves. Also, seventeen year old Andrew Epstein who started in goal for Colorado is an academy product and made his reserve team debut in this game.
Colorado Rapids took the opening tap at 7:01 PM. Kamani Hill had a shot ripped on frame in the fifth minute that Nick Noble deflected into the air then swatted away. Danny Mwanga put his first shot on frame in the tenth minute with a headed attempt off a cross from one of his teammates. Harrisburg was pressing with multiple corner kicks near the thirty minute mark but nothing connect with a solid attempt on frame.
Yann Ekra played a ball over the top the bounced in front of Sainey Touray with backspin. The Gambian settled the ball and turned wide to pass the ball to Tom Mellor. After a few stutter steps, Mellor dribbled towards the end line and crossed a ball into the six yard box. Morgan Langley ran near post and buried a ball past seventeen year old Andrew Epstein in his debut with the Rapids Reserve Team. Langley’s goal came two days after the death of a close friend, he said it was the most meaningful goal of his career.
The Second 45
Harrisburg subbed Lucky Mkosana at halftime for Tom Mellor. Lucky Mkosana came into the game with lots of energy after multiple crosses to create opportunities Lucky buried a shot into the back of the net but was whistled offsides. In the seventy-third minute, City Islanders subbed Jamiel Hardware in for Yann Ekra. Two minutes later Kevin Harbottle from about twenty-five yards away scored a goal for the Rapids’ Reserves. Lucky Mkosana just a few moments later ripped a shot that just bent away from the far post.
In the eighty-second minute a pair of substitutions were made, for Harrisburg McLaughlin for Langley and for the Rapids Braman in for Armstrong. In the last five minutes, Harbottle scored twice for the Rapids. The first came in the 85th minute off a corner kick and the second in the 89th after a turnover in the back which led to a one on one with Noble that he slotted past the charging keeper to complete his hat rick and cap off a 3-1 victory for the Colorado Reserves.
Post Game Remarks
On his team’s performance, Islanders’ boss Bill Becher said “I thought we were sloppy in the first half, were fortunate to be in the lead, we gave the ball away to easily, and it’s funny because we were better in the second half but ended up giving up goals and losing the game.” After I asked if Colorado’s speed were causing problems by pressuring the ball quickly, he said, “That’s possible but to me it looked they weren’t pressuring a whole lot and it seemed like we were just trying to force a lot of balls; it’s possible but I don’t think so because teams in this are pretty high pressed and they (Colorado) kept a lot of guys up.”