Philadelphia Union announced today that the club has loaned two players to the team’s official USL PRO affiliate, Harrisburg City Islanders, for the 2014 USL PRO season. Midfielders Cristhian Hernandez and Jimmy McLaughlin will join the City Islanders ahead of their USL PRO season-opening match on April 5 against the Wilmington Hammerheads. Philadelphia Union will have the option to recall any of the two players during the loan period.
“Jimmy and Cristhian are still young professionals who need to play in meaningful matches," team manager John Hackworth said. “We think that going to our USL affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders gives them an opportunity to continue their development under coach Becher while playing in real games and helping the team this season.”
The Harrisburg City Islanders, led by former USL-2 Coach of the Year Bill Becher, will compete in a 28-game regular season in USL PRO from April-August. Becher, who coached the squad to a first place finish in the USL PRO National Division in 2011, also spent time in Florida with the Union team and technical staff during preseason training.
Officially signed in March of 2010, the original partnership with Harrisburg provided the Union with an option to loan players to the Islanders for increased playing time, as well as scout up and coming talent, such as Union right back Sheanon Williams, who suited up for the City Islanders in 2010.
Philadelphia Union and the Harrisburg City Islanders announced on March 6, 2013 that the clubs expanded their original partnership, allowing players to stay, practice and play vital games with their USL counterparts for an extended period of time. The Union no longer field a Reserve League team, instead incorporating reserve players into the City Islanders to help the team compete for a USL championship.
“We are pleased to have both Hernandez and McLaughlin with the Islanders for the 2014 season. This is an important year for both players who we hope will have big results,” said Harrisburg City Islander majority owner Eric Pettis. “It’s a benefit that Coach Bill had both players last year and was able to spend the Union preseason working with the Union coaches and players. This strengthening relationship should provide to make the City Islanders a more valuable developmental team for the future Philadelphia Union players.”
McLaughlin, 20, spent 2013 on loan to Harrisburg, playing in 23 games and scoring five goals. He was signed by the Union on December 11, 2011 as the club’s second Homegrown Player. A Union Academy graduate, McLaughlin has previously seen action in various Reserve League matches and with the First Team in exhibition matches against Reading United, Everton, Real Madrid, Schalke 04, Aston Villa and Pumas UNAM. He made his professional debut in May of 2012 during a 3-0 victory over the Rochester Rhinos in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and his MLS debut October 2012, coming on as a 73rd-minute sub against Sporting KC. McLaughlin also spent a portion of the 2012 season on loan with Harrisburg.
Hernandez, 20, signed with the Union on March 5, 2012 as the club’s third-ever Homegrown Player. The Mexico native suited up for the Islanders during the 2013 season, as well, where he played in 20 games, scoring four goals and adding four assists. In 2011, he was named the U-17-18 Development Academy Player of the Year by U.S. Soccer and honored as a NJ Star Ledger First Team All-Prep player, scoring 16 goals for St. Benedicts Prep and leading the school to its seventh national championship. As a Union Academy player in 2011, Hernandez scored the game winner in a 1-0 friendly victory over Everton during his first unofficial appearance for the team.