HERSHEY, Pa. - The Harrisburg City Islanders got the better of the Philadelphia Union with a 3-2 victory in a friendly at Hersheypark Stadium Tuesday. Two goals from Garret Pettis and another tally from Yann Ekra propelled the Islanders. Jorge Perlaza and Kai Herdling scored for the Union, but the MLS side couldn't manage to level the game in the late minutes.
Playing in an offensive-minded 4-3-3, the Union were firmly in control of possession in the opening minutes. An early buildup led to a Brian Carroll strike from 20 yards out, but Harrisburg goalie Bryan Holt dove quickly and was able to get a hand on Carroll's effort.
Momentum soon shifted to the home side, as Harrisburg strung together a series of chances that culminated in the first goal of the night. Jimmy McLaughlin slid over to block a powerful shot from Islanders midfielder Tom Mellor, but only minutes later Mellor beat McLaughlin down the left side and swung a cross into the middle. A sliding Pettis buried Mellor's cross into the back of the net, putting Harrisburg up 1-0 in the 17th minute.
The Islanders saw much of the ball in the moments after taking the lead, creating a handful of chances to increase the margin. The best opportunity came in the 30th minute when former Union midfielder Morgan Langley beat Amobi Okugo into the right side of the box with an inside-out move, but the ensuing shot skittered by the far post.
Philadelphia managed to answer before the halftime whistle when newcomers Michael Lahoud and Perlaza connected for the first Union goal. Perlaza took a Lahoud pass and drilled the ball into the top of the net, sending the teams into the locker rooms all knotted at 1-1.
Harrisburg took the lead for good in the 55th minute when Ekra collected a loose ball in the box and fired it into the upper corner of Chris Konopka's goal. The Islanders added to their lead when Pettis tallied his second goal of the match with a strong volley coming at the end of a Lucky Mkosana cross.
Philadelphia cut the deficit to one in the 81st minute after some impressive dribbling from McLaughlin drew a free kick just outside the box. Herdling, who had seen an earlier free kick saved by Holt, shot this one low and hard into the corner of the net.
Philadelphia had a good chance late when a string of quick one-touch passes helped them advance into Harrisburg's penalty area, but Lahoud's cross was blocked by a sliding defender.
The clubs will meet again in just two weeks with a semifinal birth in the U.S. Open Cup at stake.