Philadelphia Union to play friendly match against USL Pro affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders

Posted: June 13, 2012

While off the pitch is a much different story, on the pitch, the Union has had a successful respite from MLS action. The Union is 3-0 since a dismal 1-0 loss to Toronto FC just before the league break for the first round of FIFA World Cup qualifying. The victories have not only resulted in a spot in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, but also generated much-needed confidence.

In its last game before resuming MLS play Saturday at PPL Park against D.C. United (7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet), the Union travels to Hershey to play USL Pro affiliate Harrisburg City. This friendly serves as a precursor to the club's Open Cup match on June 26 in which the Islanders will battle its big brothers from Chester for a trip to the final four of the USOC.

But with newfound confidence, courtesy of some unlikely players who have stepped up, the question is whether manager Peter Nowak will play many members of the supporting cast that led the Union over USL's Rochester Rhinos (3-0) and battled to a 2-1 win in extra time over United. On Saturday, the Union utilized a reserve-heavy crew to defeat Reading United, 3-2.

"These [wins] are big for our confidence," goalkeeper Zac MacMath said. "It just goes to show that we are better than our [2-7-2] record shows and we have to bring that into [league play]. This break has been very good for us and we are hoping to continue that. We just hate losing and are tired of it. It's come down to working on the little things and avoiding mental lapses?…?we are going to fight."

Harrisburg City will show some fight in this one, a game in which every player is looking to prove he deserves a chance with the big club, including some players out to prove hey shouldn't have been sent down. Midfielders Morgan Langley, J.T. Noone and Thomas Brandt were all members of the Union at one time, with Brandt a supplemental draft pick before getting sent to the state capital. Harrisburg City, in many ways, mimics the Union, starting off slow in league play (3-2-4, 13 points), but being a dominant presence in Open Cup matches, including a 2-1 overtime upset of Union rival Red Bull New York that booked its place in the quarters. Forward Yann Ekra has leads the team in goals with four in USL Pro play this season.

The Union is 1-0-1 all-time against Harrisburg, with each occasion nothing less than a standoff. The last time these two met, the Union needed to score five second-half goals to bypass the City Islanders, 5-3, after trailing, 3-0, at the half.

Expect the same type of battle royale Tuesday night.

"I am not sure who we plan on playing and who they plan on playing, but all I know is, no matter what, it's going to be a tough-fought game, both in the friendly and when we play them in the Open Cup," said Union co-captain Brian Carroll. "Bottom line is we have to be ready."


Agenda

Who: Union vs. Harrisburg City

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: HersheyPark Stadium, Hershey, Pa.

TV/Radio: None.

Tickets/Parking: Parking is free. Advance tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for kids ($25 adults, $20 kids at the gate). For tickets or more info, call the City Islanders front office, 717-441-4625.

Injury report (as of June 8)

 Out for the Union: Krystian Witkowski, FW (concussion symptoms); Chris Albright, D (right foot sprain/contusion)

Doubtful: Sheanon Williams, D (right big toe sprain); Chase Harrison, GK (left ankle sprain); Michael Lahoud, MF (right hip flexor strain)

Questionable: Keon Daniel, MF (left ankle sprain)

Probable: Roger Torres, MF (left knee surgery recovery)

Contact Kerith Gabriel at gabrielk@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @sprtswtr.

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