HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union went into the halftime break down 2-0 to the Harrisburg City Islanders on Wednesday, setting up five consecutive second half goals en route to a 5-3 Union victory at Skyline Sports Complex. The friendly was the second annual meeting between Philadelphia and their USL Pro affiliate.
Justin Mapp scored a goal and registered two assists, Roger Torres tallied a goal and an assist, and 16-year-old Zach Pfeffer netted his first non-preseason goal in the most prolific scoring half of Philadelphia's short history.
The game started off quickly when Harrisburg were awarded a free kick just outside Philadelphia's area, setting up Nelson Becerra for the first goal of the match. The midfielder struck the ball well, past Union goalkeeper MacMath and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.
The Islanders added to their lead in the 19th minute. A combination of quick passes found Becerra, who deftly chipped from the top of the box over the defense to Andrew Welker, who finished low and hard for a 2-0 advantage.
The second half began with an entirely new Philadelphia team, and the eleven substitutions immediately changed the dynamic of the game. Just three minutes into the half, Justin Mapp broke down the left flank and finished a tight-angled shot to cut the deficit in half.
Moments later, in the 49th minute, Mapp made his impact felt again, assisting on a goal from La Salle University graduate Ryan Richter to level the match at 2-2.
High pressure from Zach Pfeffer paid off in the 60th minute when the midfielder forced a turnover in Harrisburg's half. The 16-year-old broke free and slotted the ball into the right corner for an easy finish.
In the 76th minute, Harrisburg's hopes of a comeback were dashed, courtesy of an attack crafted by Mapp. The midfielder, who looked lively the entire half, brought the ball down the left side and swung it in to find an open Torres, who confidently re-directed the cross to make it 4-2.
The Union were not done yet. 21-year-old Englishman Joe Tait, on trial for Philadelphia, proved too big of a presence in the box when Torres’ corner found him in the 78th minute. The defender rose high to meet the service and headed it home for a 5-2 lead.
In the 85th minute, Harrisburg narrowed the lead to 5-3 when David Schofield fired from 30 yards out past recently reacquired goalkeeper Thorne Holder.
The win moves the Union to 1-0-1 all-time against the Islanders after the two sides played to a 1-1 draw last year.
HCI - Nelson Becerra (unassisted) 6'
HCI - Andrew Welker (Nelson Becerra) 19'
PHI - Justin Mapp (unassisted) 48'
PHI - Ryan Richter (Justin Mapp) 49'
PHI - Zach Pfeffer (unassisted) 60'
PHI - Roger Torres (Justin Mapp) 76'
PHI - Joe Tait (Roger Torres) 78'
HCI - Jose Angulo (David Schofield) 85'