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Match Preview: Harrisburg City Islanders vs Saint Louis FC

After beating Ottawa, will Harrisburg torpedo another team’s playoff chances?

SAV Photography/Sarah Vogelsong

Match: Harrisburg City Islanders vs Saint Louis FC

Date: Saturday, September 30th

Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC

Venue: FNB Field (Harrisburg, PA)

Refs: REF: DANIEL GUTIERREZ AR1: Joseph Paolini AR2: Joshua Encarnacion 4TH: Matthew Vodzak

Stream:

How Saint Louis will look: Since losing to Harrisburg earlier in the month, Saint Louis defeated Orlando City B and drew with FC Cincinnati (although that was very nearly a win too). So they’re still sitting four points out of a playoff spot, with only four matches remaining. With that much ground to make up in such a short amount of time, Saturday’s match falls under “must win” territory for Saint Louis.

The key offensive duo for Saint Louis is Christian Volesky and Seth Rudolph. Volesky has scored in each of his last three matches for a total of eight on the season and Rudolph has scored seven times himself. Expect them to get several shots each during the match.

One person you won’t see at the match is Preki, the Saint Louis head coach. He was not pleased with the late penalty kick awarded to Cincy during their last match and he got himself a red card for his troubles. He’ll be serving his one match suspension on Saturday.

How Harrisburg will look: Don’t look now, but Harrisburg is unbeaten in four matches. That’s their longest such streak in 2017. If they get the win on Saturday night, they’ll have won three in a row for the first time since May… of 2015. So even though the playoffs might be out of reach at this point, that’s plenty of reason for the City Islanders to play hard on Saturday night.

The hot player for the City Islanders right now is Ghanaian Ropapa Mensah who has scored three goals in the last two matches. That’s easily pushed him into the team lead with six goals on the season. And don’t forget about Jonny Mendoza. He picked up an assist in their last match along with a nice goal of his own against Cincinnati.

Cardel Benbow won’t be available for Saturday’s match due to the red card he picked up against Ottawa. Abass Mohammed will be missing too, but that’s because he was called up to the Ghana National Team as they prepare for their World Cup qualifier.

What to expect: Not much time has passed since the last time these two teams met, and Harrisburg’s late victory must still sting for Saint Louis. Because they gave up the winning goal so late last time, they’ll probably be looking to attack early in this match in order to build up a solid lead to protect. Saint Louis has been dropping a lot of late points in September, and they should be sick of it by now.

Harrisburg’s defense should be up to the physical challenge of shutting down the Saint Louis attack, they just need to avoid making any mental mistakes. The Saint Louis goal from the last match came off of a quick restart, one the defense should never have allowed to happen. Beyond that, the City Islander’s new look three man back-line kept them from getting many good opportunities on goal.

Based on the recent results for both sides, it expect all of that planning and strategy to be thrown out of the window during the last few minutes of Saturday’s clash. These teams are both so evenly matched, that I expect that this game will come down to some wild plays in the final ten minutes or so. So even if you’re going to be busy for most of the match, try and tune in for the end.

PREDICTION: Harrisburg has won two in a row at home, and I think they make it three on Saturday night by a 2-1 scoreline.

Author’s Note: I’ll be combining the recaps of the Ottawa and Saint Louis matches this week. Look for that combined recap Monday morning.