12TH HOME OPENER AT SKYLINE SPORTS COMPLEX
Tonight the Harrisburg City Islanders will be hosting their twelfth ever home opener on City Island, along the banks of Susquehanna River across from the downtown of the capital city of Pennsylvania. This year they face a new opponent, FC Montreal (owned and operated by Montreal Impact of MLS), one of numerous new franchises added for the 2015 USL season. The City Islanders are now the sixth oldest franchise in the current 24 team USL. They began in 2004 with a home opener win against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds who would become their main rival from the moment on. After winning a Championship in 2007, reaching USL PRO finals in 2011 and 2014, and only missing the playoffs twice over eleven seasons, they now find themselves at the bottom of the table in 2015 after two games on the road.
HOW HAVE HCI FARED SO FAR?
Many fans knew this season would be a struggle due to losing important players over the off season but they were not sure how difficult it would be. Well the City Islanders were thrashed 5-2 at Highmark Stadium by the Riverhounds in one of the worst defeats in club history. The next week they followed up with an improved performance against the Eastern Conference leading Charleston Battery but were defeated 2-0. With a bye week and a friendly 1-1 draw against University of Maryland, the boys in blue are ready to take on their new opponents and earn their first points of the season but will they? FC Montreal will have something to say about that.
WHO ARE LE BLEU?
FC Montreal are made up of Montreal Impact academy players mostly from the province of Quebec. This will be the Canadian outfit’s first away match this season after suffering two defeats at home. In their home opener they lost to Toronto FC 2-0 at Olympic Stadium and last weekend they lost 3-0 on their outdoor turf field to rivals Rochester Rhinos. Despite losing three-nil, the score line does not show the effort of the Impact academy products who were reduced to 10 men in the second half.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Harrisburg City Islanders: Goalkeeper Nick Noble is back on the island of his fourth season, one of the most important players to Harrisburg’s playoff push last year. His performance will be vital for HCI to earn victory because of an inexperienced backline in front of him. Left back Neil Schaffer earned the captain’s band for 2015 due to their retirement of long time midfielder Jason Pelletier; his leadership on and off the pitch will be crucial during tough times.
FC Montreal: Forwards Victor N’Diaye and Lajoie-Gravelle were linking up very well throughout the match against Rochester and could break through for the team’s first goal of the season against a weakened Harrisburg backline. Goalkeeper David Paulmin was outstanding versus the Rhinos and kept the match from getting very ugly after his side were reduced ten men and kept a first half clean sheet.
This is not the first season Bill Becher has dealt with a big roster turnover from the previous season, he will work with his team and make them better as the season progresses. A win at home against a very youthful FC Montreal will be a great way to start that and give his side some confidence. The visitors are hungry to get their first goal of the season and have a lot of young talent in attack.
Harrisburg 2-1 Montreal