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Catching up on Penn FC’s preseason so far

The team has gone 2-2 in preseason friendlies and they’ve announced 11 new player signings

MLS: Philadelphia Union at New England Revolution Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The last time we checked in with Penn FC, they were gearing up for their first preseason match with an announced roster of only eight players. It was still very much up in the air as to which of the team’s trialists would end up with a contract as the preseason went on. Fortunately Penn FC began announcing contracts at a pretty steady rate once the preseason matches started, and over the last two weeks they’ve officially announced eleven additional players for 2018.

The first new player announced was Aaron Dennis, who played his college soccer at Villanova and was most recently with Miami FC. Dennis has made a big splash on offense during the preseason by scoring goals against LIU-Brooklyn and Bethlehem Steel. He appears poised to be a big part of the Penn FC offense going forward as well as he’s the only forward that has been officially signed by the team so far.

The next announced signings were former FC Edmonton teammates Pedro Galvao and Mauro Eustaquio. Galvao has been playing at left back during the preseason and he scored a beautiful goal during the first preseason match against LIU-Brooklyn. Eustaquio has four years of NASL experience between the Ottawa Fury and FC Edmonton, and he could be the front runner to join Dan Metzger in the midfield.

Next came a trio of signings including one returning player. Chris Hill has been re-signed for 2018, which makes him the longest tenured member of the Penn FC roster. He first signed for the City Islanders back in 2016 and he’s the only remaining player from that season. He joins veteran defenders Kyle Venter, who spent last season with Ottawa, and Marco Franco, who spent the last three seasons with Indy Eleven in the NASL. Franco appears to be the front runner for starting right back, but it appears that Venter won’t be available for the first few matches of 2018. He will still have a residual red card suspension from the end of last season.

Penn FC followed up these veteran signings with a few younger players. Midfielder Salvatore Barone and defender Harri Hawkins both come to Harrisburg after playing with the New York Cosmos last season. Both players seem to be getting looks with the first team during the preseason and Barone was even able to score a goal against Binghamton University. Signed that same day was Miguel Jaime who was the second Penn FC signing with previous Rush Soccer experience. He also spent some time in the PDL with the Ocean City Nor’easters.

After these signings, Penn FC boosted their defense with a familiar face, former City Islander Ken Tribbett. Tribbett had spent all of 2015 with Harrisburg, making 28 total appearances on the way to a USL Rookie of the Year nomination. His 2015 performance was enough to get him invited to preseason camp with the Philadelphia Union in 2016 where he earned his way onto the roster. After making multiple starts in Philly in 2016, he spent most of 2017 in Bethlehem and the Union didn’t renew his contract after the season. The return to Harrisburg is a natural fit for Tribbett, as he had also spent time playing with Rush Soccer during his youth. Check out the video below for some classic Skyline Sports Complex action.

Moving into the final week of the preseason, Penn FC added a veteran presence at goalkeeper by signing Romuald Peiser, who spent last season with the San Franciso Deltas. Peiser originally spent some time in the Paris Saint-Germain youth academy, but he’s been playing in North America since 2014. He won the NASL Golden Glove in 2015, and he kept a clean sheet in the Soccer Bowl last season with San Francisco. Peiser is the most experienced goalkeeper on the roster by far, and he’s likely to be the starter once opening day rolls around.

These signings appear to represent a majority of the players that have been taking the field for Penn FC during the first few weeks of the preseason. Penn FC never made any full lineup announcements during the preseason (that’s how it goes with a trialist heavy roster) but Bethlehem Steel did tweet out a few pictures when the teams met on February 21st. However, since Penn FC gave up five goals in the second half of that match, I would expect a lot of changes to that lineup before opening day. The first 11 is what appears to contain most of the front runners.

Penn FC has compiled a 2-2 record so far in the preseason with wins over LIU-Brooklyn and Binghamton University and losses against Bethlehem Steel and New York Red Bulls II. Evan covered the Penn-Steel friendly back when it happened and there aren’t many details about the NYRBII friendly as it wasn’t open to the public (Penn FC fell 2-1 with Jorge Rivera scoring the only goal off of a penalty).

Based on the information available, it appears that new head Coach Raoul Voss has been experimenting with his lineups so far. He has been getting the most out of these friendlies by fielding almost completely different lineups between the first and second halves. This makes sense since he’s a new coach who’s dealing with players who are largely unfamiliar to him, but it does make it difficult to determine who’s poised to start on opening day. However, this may change as Penn FC prepares for their final preseason friendly against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, March 10th. With the current roster at 19 players, expect to see at least a couple players playing a full 90 minutes as they prepare for the season opener in just a few short weeks.