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2017 Season Preview: Harrisburg City Islanders

After a tumultuous 2016, stability seems on the horizon for Harrisburg.

Harrisburg City Islanders

Harrisburg City Islanders

Year Founded: 2003

Affiliation: Independent

2016 record (W-D-L): Harrisburg went 8-7-15, good enough for tenth in the Eastern Conference

2016 playoffs: Did not qualify

Key additions: Manolo Sanchez, Rasheed Olabiyi, Brandon Miller

Key departures: Bobby Warshaw, Dante Leverock, Jose Barril

Projected/ideal starting XI: Brandon Miller; James Thomas, Lee Nishinian, Chris Hill, Shawn McLaws; Manolo Sanchez, Rasheed Olabiyi, Mouhamed Dabo, Paul Wilson; Cardel Benbow, Aaron Wheeler

2016 in review: 2016 was a turning point in the history of the Harrisburg City Islanders. The club found itself barnstorming after leaving the decrepit Skyline Sports Complex on City Island, splitting time between FNB Stadium in Harrisburg and Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster. The club also started a re-brand effort that stopped soon after it began.

With all of that going on, Harrisburg still managed to just miss out on the playoffs and made some solid personnel moves both on and off of the field. The City Islanders brought in players such as Bobby Warshaw, Keasel Broome, and Aaron Wheeler during the year, as well as bringing in Tiago Lopes as club president in December.

Why you should watch Harrisburg in 2017: This is a team that seems to be getting its act together. A stable home at FNB Field in Harrisburg means the club will have a home of its own (even if they’re sharing it with the Harrisburg Senators baseball team). While there has been significant churn in the roster, the club has also retained some of the more solid players such as Wheeler, Nick Noble, Cardel Benbow, and Danny DiPrima

3 players to watch:

  1. Paul Wilson - The Jamaican right winger had six assists last season and will look to continue to provide an offensive spark.
  2. Brandon Miller - The 2015 USL Goalkeeper of the Year comes to Harrisburg from the Orange County Blues and should push Nick Noble for the starting job. Harrisburg will need whoever wins the job to step up, as they gave up a staggering 54 goals in 2016.
  3. Rasheed Olabiyi - The former Houston Dynamo defensive midfielder will bring some experience and a defensive presence to help shore up Harrisburg’s defense.

The 2017 season will be a success if... Everything comes together for Harrisburg - but there’s a lot of ifs. If they can truly make FNB Field a home and get local interest back into the team. If the new signings pan out and the team can gel quickly. If the stars align and the team gets a few lucky breaks here and there, it could be a good season to be a City Islanders fan.