Philadelphia Union defeated USL PRO affiliate partner Harrisburg City Islanders, 4-2 Tuesday night at the Skyline Sports Complex on the strength of four goals split evenly between the two halves from Brian Carroll, Sebastien Le Toux, Antoine Hoppenot and Roger Torres.
“I was happy with the work ethic in both halves, the mentality was correct on our part and there were some good moments of soccer, as well,” said Team Manager John Hackworth after the match. “In these kinds of games, you want to make sure you get out of it what you go into it trying to accomplish, and we did that tonight.”
The Union started a predominantly first-choice lineup, with Chris Konopka spelling Zac MacMath in goal. Harrisburg, meanwhile, started Union loanees Jimmy McLaughlin and Christhian Hernandez, who are furthering their development by playing with the USL PRO side.
The match opened with blistering end-to-end action, and the Union jumped onto the scoreboard in the fourth minute through Carroll. The captain intercepted a pass and calmly finished past Harrisburg keeper Brian Sylvestre. Philadelphia was not shy about getting forward early, as several chances either narrowly missed or were saved by Sylvestre.
Harrisburg, however, would prove that they were up to the task of facing an MLS side. Bits of sustained possession were rewarded, as Sheanon Williams conceded a penalty to the City Islanders in the 13th minute. Stephen Basso finished low and left, beating an outstretched Chris Konopka, who dove the right way, but could not put a hand on the ball.
Philadelphia responded to the equalizer just six minutes later. Keon Daniel’s free kick from a dangerous position took a deflection right to the foot of Le Toux, who made no mistake. The goal finished off an opening 20 minutes of wide open, attacking soccer. The Union stabilized after Le Toux’s goal, and through sustained possession, were able to safely control play until halftime, up 2-1.
“It’s preparation. On a midweek, where we have a very important game coming up against New York, this was an opportunity to run our guys out for 45 minutes at game speed against some very motivated players, who have a lot of potential,” said Hackworth. “It’s the right kind of environment against this opponent, so you get a little better test than if it were just a training session.”
The second half opened with a flurry of changes by John Hackworth, including a change of jersey for both McLaughlin and Hernandez, who would suit up for the Union for the final 45 minutes. Overall, nine changes were made, as only Chris Konopka and Antoine Hoppenot would remain on the pitch for Philadelphia.
Harrisburg made an assortment of changes at the break as well, and substitute Sainey Touray would immediately make his mark on the match, striking the crossbar moments into the second half. Continued chances for Touray resulted in an equalizer in the 60th minute, as he finished on a close-proximity shot after receiving a pass from Luckymore Mkosana.
The match was largely even for the balance of the second half, but Hoppenot would break the deadlock for good in the 69th minute. Leo Fernandes tiptoed the right goaline and slotted nicely to the former Princeton Tiger. Torres added an insurance tally on the counter attack in the 90th minute, as Michael Farfan earned an assist, but Hoppenot’s tap-in goal would hold up as the game winner.
“This is always an important game for our club and our affiliate, Harrisburg,” said Hackworth. “Our relationship is strong and we depend on them to be one of our developmental arms for our players, so to play them at their home field in front of a good crowd is always good.”
The Union are back in action Sunday, June 23 as they host the New York Red Bulls in MLS regular season play at PPL Park, broadcast at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Philadelphia Union 4, Harrisburg City Islanders 2
Tuesday, June 18; 7:00 p.m. ET
Skyline Sports Complex; Harrisburg, PA
PHI: Carroll 4’
HCI: Basso 13’ (penalty)
PHI: Le Toux 19’ (Daniel)
HCI: Touray 60’ (Mkosana)
PHI: Hoppenot 69’ (Fernandes)
PHI: Torres 90’ (Farfan)
UNION STARTING 11
Konopka, Gaddis (Anding 45’), Okugo (McLaughlin 45’), Parke (Albright 45’), Williams (Kassel 45’), Carroll (Hernandez 45’), Daniel (Fernandes 45’), Cruz (Farfan 45’) Le Toux (Torres 45’), McInerney (Wheeler 45’), Hoppenot
HARRISBURG STARTING 11
Sylvestre, Basso (Zizzi 45’), Ribeiro, Bahner, Pelletier (Fakou 67’), Hernandez (Mendoza 45’), Hardware (Ekra 64’), Mellor (Bua 64’), Andrews, McLaughlin (Touray 45’), Mkosana