Penn FC

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Penn FC
Penn FC logo.PNG
Full name Penn Football Club
Nickname(s) Penn
Founded September 24, 2003; 14 years ago (2003-09-24) (as Harrisburg City Islanders)
Stadium FNB Field
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Ground Capacity 6,187
Owner George Altirs
Eric Pettis
Head Coach Bill Becher
League USL
2017 11th, Eastern Conference
Playoffs: DNQ
Website Club website
Current season

Penn FC (formerly the Harrisburg City Islanders) is an American professional soccer team based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded in 2003, the team plays in the United Soccer League, the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid.[1]

The team had played its home games at Skyline Sports Complex, located on Harrisburg's City Island since 2004. Starting in 2016, the City Islanders began playing at neighboring FNB Field. The team's colors are blue and white. Their current head coach is Bill Becher who has been with the club since its formation.

Penn FC also fields a team in the USL’s Super-20 League, a league for players 17 to 20 years of age, operated by the United Soccer Leagues.

On November 15, 2017 the team rebranded as Penn FC. [2]

History[edit]

League[edit]

USL Pro Soccer League - Inaugural Season (2004)[edit]

The Harrisburg City Islanders were announced as a new professional soccer team on September 24, 2003 as a member USL Pro Soccer League’s Atlantic Division on the third tier of the American soccer pyramid. As the team prepared for its inaugural season, Bill Becher was named the first head coach of the club and forward, David Bascome, was signed as the first player. The City Islanders won their first match 5-2 on the road against the Northern Virginia Royals with Steve Fisher scoring the club’s first ever goal.[3]

The City Islanders were powerful contenders in the USL second division, finishing second the Atlantic Division and fifth overall in their inaugural season and qualifying for the playoffs. They were eliminated in the Atlantic Division Finals by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

USL Second Division (2005-2010)[edit]

The 2005 season saw the City Islanders continue to be contenders in the league, now organized in a single table as the USL Second Division (USL-2), finishing third in the table and qualifying for the playoffs. They were eliminated in the Atlantic Division Finals by the eventual champions, Charlotte Eagles. The season's success was recognized as Bill Becher was named USL-2 Coach of the Year, while Chad Severs was named Rookie of the Year who lead the scoring with 13 goals and 5 assists.[3]

In 2006, the club failed to reach the playoffs, but regained form in 2007. The City Islanders would win their first championship in USL Second Division Championship, defeating the Richmond Kickers on penalty kicks. Dustin Bixler was named the match’s Most Valuable Player.[3]

The City Islanders qualified for the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 but were unable to recapture the title. Danny Cepero played for Harrisburg on loan from the New York Red Bulls in 2008, and upon returning to New York, became the first goalkeeper in Major League Soccer history to score from open play.[4] In 2009, Ty Shipalane became the second City Islander to win Rookie of the Year and became the first City Islander to jump directly to Major League Soccer after signing with D.C. United at the conclusion of the season.[3]

The 2010 season would be the second time in the club's history missing the playoffs. On March 1, 2010, the City Islanders entered into an agreement to become the official USL affiliate of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union. The affiliation would soon have City Islanders defender, Sheanon Williams sign with the Union and become an immediate insertion in the first tier club's starting eleven.[5]

USL Pro (2011-2014)[edit]

The 2011 season saw the USL Second Division be reorganized into the USL Pro with Harrisburg competing in the National Division. The City Islanders won the USL Pro National Division title over the Rochester Rhinos advancing to the first USL Pro final against the newly formed, and regular-season champion, Orlando City. Similar to the last championship appearance, the City Islanders would play to a draw (2-2) in regulation time, only this time falling on penalty kicks 3-2.[3]

The City Islanders would have successful seasons in 2012 and 2013, but would earn a spot in the USL Pro final during the 2014 season after a dark horse run through the playoffs, having finished in the last remaining qualifier spot. The final was, again, played at a newly formed club, and regular-season champion, Sacramento Republic FC. Sacramento would win the title 2-0, with Harrisburg earning their second runner-up in four seasons.

USL (2015-present)[edit]

Undergoing massive expansion and vying for second division status in the American soccer pyramid, the USL Pro was rebranded as simply "USL." The re-branding and additional teams intended to increase the quality of play and infrastructure throughout the league, as well as provide better player development in cooperation with Major League Soccer. Since the league restructured, the City Islanders have struggled to keep pace, missing out on the playoffs for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

On January 5, 2017, the United States Soccer Federation granted USL provisional Division II status; making the 2017 season the first time the City Islanders would compete as a Division II team.[6] Shortly before the 2017 season, George Altirs was announced as new majority owner of the club so as to "stay in Harrisburg and build an international developmental base that is unique and exciting." As majority owner, Altirs "will oversee the technical side of the club, including player and staff selections, transfers, and outside, non-local partnerships for the Harrisburg City Islanders." The ownership addition was intended to allow the City Islanders to keep pace with the growth of the USL.[7]

U.S. Open Cup[edit]

Penn FC also competes in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, where they developed a reputation as "giant killers" for defeating several teams from Major League Soccer. Harrisburg boasts an overall record of 12–5–3 in the competition, including a perfect 5–0 mark against teams from the Premier Development League and 5-6 record against MLS clubs. The City Islanders first competed in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2007, defeating two amateur squads before upsetting D.C. United 1–0 to reach the quarterfinals. They subsequently lost to the New England Revolution 1–2, but in 2009 exacted revenge by beating the Revolution 2–1 before losing to D.C. United 1–2 in the quarterfinals. The City Islanders repeated the feat in 2010, knocking off Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls 1–0 in the round of 16 and claiming a cash prize for advancing furthest of any USL-PRO team in the tournament. The City Islanders again dispatched the New England Revolution in the 2012 edition of the U.S. Open Cup, prevailing on penalty kicks after a 3–3 draw in the round of 32. Harrisburg next defeated the Red Bulls 3–1 to advance to the quarterfinals, where they lost to the Philadelphia Union by a 5–2 scoreline. In 2012, the City Islanders again won the cash prize for advancing further than any USL-PRO team in the tournament by virtue of a tie-breaker.

Friendlies[edit]

The City Islanders hosted several exhibition matches, or friendlies, against international and top-flight competition. A partnership with D.C. United of Major League Soccer created the "Clash of the Capitals," annual matches between the two capital cities held in 2005–06. In the inaugural edition of the competition in 2005, D.C. United won 1–0 in front of over 4,000 fans at the Skyline Sports Complex. The following year's matchup was staged at Cumberland Valley High School, where 5,133 fans turned out to witness Freddy Adu and United prevail 2–1. That same year included the City Islanders' first international exhibition, as the club defeated Jamaica's Village United F.C. 5–1 at Hersheypark Stadium.

In 2009, the City Islanders played Crystal Palace F.C. of the Football League Championship, England's second division, at Lancaster's Clipper Magazine Stadium. A crowd of 5,099 witnessed the match, a 3–1 Crystal Palace win that included goals by Palace stars Darren Ambrose, Neil Danns, and Freddie Sears. Brandon Swartzendruber scored the lone goal for the City Islanders.

Affiliation with Philadelphia Union[edit]

On March 1, 2010, the City Islanders entered into an agreement to become the official USL affiliate of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union. As part of their affiliation, the City Islanders host annual friendly matches against the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. As of the 2014 season, the Islanders have only won one match against their top flight affiliate.

In 2010, the teams played to a 1–1 draw, with Danny Mwanga giving the Union a lead in the 30th minute before an own goal allowed Harrisburg to equalize a minute later. J.T. Noone appeared for both clubs in the match, playing the first half for the City Islanders before switching jerseys and completing the second half for Philadelphia.

The Union prevailed in the 2011 edition by a 5–3 scoreline.[8] The City Islanders carried a 2–0 lead into halftime behind goals by Nelson Becerra and Andrew Welker, but heavy substitutions allowed the Union to demonstrate their superior depth, and they scored five times in thirty minutes before Jose Angulo pegged one back.

With both teams fielding numerous reserves, the City Islanders won the 2012 rematch, which was played at Hersheypark Stadium. Jorge Perlaza and Kai Herdling scored for the Union, while a brace by Garret Pettis and goal by Yann Ekra carried the USL-PRO outfit to the 3–2 victory.[9]

After five years of cooperation, it was announced on August 19, 2015 that the affiliation would dissolve at the conclusion of the 2015 season as the Union would develop their own USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC, in the Lehigh Valley starting in 2016.[10] The final friendly between the two teams as affiliates took place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in front of a record crowd of 6,546 attendees. The Union won the match 3–1.

The table below summarizes the results of the annual contests between the Islanders and Union.

Colors and badge[edit]

The team's colors are blue and white. The logo can also be adorned with a gold star above it, representing the USL Championship the team won in 2007. The team has since issued two anniversary crests for their 10th and 12th seasons.[11][12]

In 2016, the City Islanders alternatively dropped "Harrisburg" from the team's title in an attempt to increase the club's footprint in central Pennsylvania.[13]

Stadium[edit]

For the first 12-season, the City Islanders competed at the Skyline Sports Complex. Since the 2016 season at FNB Field on City Island in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The stadium has a capacity of 6,187 spectators. The City Islanders also compete at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, Pennsylvania which serves as an alternate home ground during the 2016 season.[14]

Stadium Expansion/Upgrade[edit]

Recognizing the need to modernize the facilities with the growth of the USL, in 2015 the parent company of the Harrisburg City Islanders, the Harrisburg Capital Soccer, Inc. have begun applying for grant funding to facilitate upgrades to the existing complex. The proposed upgrades are anticipated to include increasing capacity to 5,000 seats, dedicated VIP areas, entrance plaza, upgraded concessions, restrooms, indoor locker rooms, state-of-the-art broadcasting booth, and a new scoreboard. New seating is intended to be an upgrade from existing bleachers with a mix of individual bucket seats, ten luxury suites, a VIP deck with seating, and bleacher seats with back supports.[15] This expansion is intended to meet the minimum capacity required by the USSF for a league to compete as Division 2 in the American soccer pyramid.[16]

Relocation to FNB Field[edit]

The 2016 season marked the City Islanders transition from Skyline Sports Complex to FNB Field on City Island in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The transition was a result of the collaboration with the current tenants, the Harrisburg Senators, and to keep pace with the stadium standards being implemented by the USL.[14] The team will also share home matches with Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as an effort to expand the Islanders fanbase throughout south central Pennsylvania.[14] From the 2017 season, the Penn FC plays all of their home matches at FNB Field to focus on the Harrisburg area.[17]

Period Stadium Location Capacity
2004–2015 Skyline Sports Complex City Island, Harrisburg, PA 4,000
2016 Clipper Magazine Stadium Lancaster, PA 6,000
FNB Field City Island, Harrisburg, PA 6,187
2017 FNB Field

Supporter Groups[edit]

Penn FC has two of its own supporters groups, the City Island Hecklers (CI Hecklers) founded by "Them Hecklerz", and the Sons of the Susquehanna (SOS) founded by Tyler Knupp, Kris Ortega, Ian Goldinger, and Raymond Stellhorn former Cedar Cliff High School Students. The CI Hecklers often position themselves behind one goal, while the Sons of the Susquehanna position themselves behind the other goal.[18][19][20] In addition to these two, members of the Sons of Ben (supporters of the Philadelphia Union) also provide support.

The "SOS" attend the City Islanders vs Union friendly at Hersheypark Stadium

Ahead of the 2017 season, the newly formed Capital City Crew became the third recognized supporters group of the City Islanders.[21]

Broadcasting and Media Coverage[edit]

Most Penn FC home matches are broadcast live on Invica, with tape delay feeds on ABC 27 Weather Channel, Comcast channel 245 and Verizon Fios channel 462. Additionally, many road games are broadcast through USLLive. Michael Bullock covers the team for the Patriot-News, while Derek Meluzio provides commentary and videos from his Upper 90 blog. The column Confessions of a Soccer Nobody appears regularly in the Sports 'Burger, offering additional coverage and insight.

As of the 2014 season, USL began regularly broadcasting all league matches on the USL YouTube channel. Home match broadcasting is provided live by Inivca where Play-by-play announcing covered by Chad Edwards with color commentary by Larry Julius.

Sponsorship[edit]

Period Kit Manufacturer Shirt Sponsor
2007–2014 Adidas Capital Blue Cross
Snickers
2015–2016 Capital Blue Cross
Select Physical Therapy
2017–present Capelli Sport Capelli Sport
Select Physical Therapy

Players and staff[edit]

Current roster[edit]

No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Noble, NickNick Noble  United States
2 Defender Libhart, GriffinGriffin Libhart  United States
4 Defender Brent, TravisTravis Brent  United States
5 Defender Calvano, TiagoTiago Calvano  Brazil
7 Midfielder Sanchez, ManoloManolo Sanchez  Puerto Rico
8 Midfielder Dabo, MouhamedMouhamed Dabo  Senegal
9 Midfielder Mendoza, JonnyJonny Mendoza  Colombia
10 Midfielder Wilson, PaulPaul Wilson  Jamaica
11 Forward Wheeler, AaronAaron Wheeler  United States
12 Midfielder Olabiyi, RasheedRasheed Olabiyi  Nigeria
13 Forward Olla, MikeMike Olla  United States
14 Midfielder DiPrima, DannyDanny DiPrima  United States
15 Defender Nishanian, LeeLee Nishanian  United States
16 Defender Bond, JakeJake Bond  United States
17 Defender Thomas, JamieJamie Thomas  United States
18 Defender Mohamed, AbassAbass Mohamed (on loan from Inter Allies)  Ghana
19 Forward Benbow, CardelCardel Benbow  Jamaica
20 Defender Hill, ChrisChris Hill  United States
21 Goalkeeper Lewis, SeanSean Lewis  United States
22 Midfielder Grosh, JohnJohn Grosh  United States
23 Defender McLaws, ShawnShawn McLaws  United States
25 Forward Mensah, RopapaRopapa Mensah (on loan from Inter Allies)  Ghana
30 Forward Ribeiro, PedroPedro Ribeiro  Brazil
33 Goalkeeper Miller, BrandonBrandon Miller  United States
60 Forward Opoku, FredrickFredrick Opoku (on loan from Inter Allies)  Ghana

Updated as of July 21, 2017.[22]

Current staff[edit]

Position Staff Nation
Head Coach & General Manager1 Bill Becher United States United States
Assistant Coach Rodolfo Correia Portugal Portugal
Goalkeeping Coach Steve Widdowson United States United States
Strength and Conditioning Coach Denis Clarke Republic of Ireland Ireland
Club President[23] Tiago Lopes Portugal Portugal
Academy Coordinator Dave Kern United States United States

Referenced from HCI coaching staff[22] and front office.[24]
1Bill Becher appointed General Manager in February 2016.[25]

Notable former players[edit]

Head coaches[edit]

Head coach Bill Becher has managed the club since its founding in 2003. Games played include all League, Cup, and playoff contests, and the win percentage is calculated from the total of games.

  • Figures correct as of September 20, 2015. Includes all competitive matches
Coach From To Record
G W D L Win %
United States Bill Becher 2004 present 308 130 81 97 042.21
Total 308 130 81 97 042.21

Honors[edit]

United Soccer Leagues Champions
Winners: 2007[3]
Finalists: 2011, 2014[3]

Individual Achievements[edit]

The following detail individual achievements earn by Penn FC players over the club's history.[3]

United Soccer Leagues Coach of the Year
2005: Bill Becher
USL Rookie of the Year
2005: Chad Severs
2009: Ty Shipalane
USL Championship MVP
2007: Dustin Bixler
USL All-League First Team
2005: Shane Crawford, Sumed Ibrahim
2007: Matt Nelson, Mike Lookingland, Mo Oduor, Brian Ombiji
2009: Dustin Bixler, Ty Shipalane
2010: Dustin Bixler
2013: Sainey Touray
USL All-League Second Team
2005: David Schofield, Chad Severs
2008: Dustin Bixler
2009: Chase Harrison, Chad Severs
2010: Anthony Calvano, Jason Pelletier
2011: José Angulo
2012: Luckymore Mkosana
2013: Luckymore Mkosana, Nick Noble
2014: Matt Bahner
2016: Jose Barril

Record[edit]

Year-by-year[edit]

Year Division League Regular Season Playoffs U.S. Open Cup Avg. Attendance Leading Goal Scorer
2004 3 USL Pro Soccer League 2nd, Atlantic Quarterfinals Did not qualify 1,510 United States Matt Tanzini (6)
2005 3 USL Second Division 3rd Semifinals Did not qualify 1,604 United States Chad Severs (13)
2006 3 USL Second Division 7th Did not qualify Did not qualify 1,781 United States Jamel Mitchell (6)
2007 3 USL Second Division 3rd Champions Quarterfinals 1,724 Kenya Mo Oduor (6)
2008 3 USL Second Division 5th Quarterfinals 2nd Round 1,684 United States Ryan Heins (7)
2009 3 USL Second Division 3rd Semifinals Quarterfinals 1,857 United States Chad Severs (9)
2010 3 USL Second Division 5th Did not qualify Quarterfinals 1,666 United States Jason Hotchkin (5)
2011 3 USL Pro 2nd, National Finals 2nd Round 1,404 Colombia Jose Angulo (9)
2012 3 USL Pro 6th Quarterfinals Quarterfinals 1,452 Zimbabwe Luckymore Mkosana (7)
2013 3 USL Pro 4th Quarterfinals 2nd Round 1,456 Zimbabwe Luckymore Mkosana (13)
2014 3 USL Pro 8th Finals 4th Round 1,941 United States Morgan Langley (6)
United States Jimmy McLaughlin (6)
United States Robbie Derschang (6)
2015 3 USL 8th, Eastern Did not qualify 3rd Round 2,430 United States Jason Plumhoff (10)
2016 3 USL 10th, Eastern Did not qualify 4th Round 1,622 Jamaica Craig Foster (10)
2017 2 USL 11th, Eastern Did not qualify 4th Round 2,429 Ghana Ropapa Mensah (7)

Referenced from Harrisburg City Islanders club history.[3]

Keystone Derby[edit]

Although they had been rivals and competed against each other in previous seasons, the inaugural Keystone Derby was officially contested between Penn FC and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2015. Pittsburgh went on to win the cup in the first edition of the tournament in a series that saw 28 goals through 4 matches. The City Islanders would claim their first derby title in 2016.

Logo for the Keystone Derby Cup between Penn FC and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Year GP Win Loss Draw GF GA +/- Result Ref.
2015
4
1
3
0
12
16
-4
Symbol delete vote.svg
2016
3
1
0
2
3
2
+1
Symbol keep vote.svg
[26]
2017
3
0
1
2
0
4
-4
Symbol delete vote.svg
[27]
Key
  • Symbol keep vote.svg Won
  • Symbol delete vote.svg Lost

References[edit]

  1. ^ "City Islanders Football Club". 
  2. ^ "Penn FC to Make USL Debut in 2018". Retrieved November 15, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "History". Harrisburg City Islanders. Retrieved December 31, 2016. 
  4. ^ Michael Lewis (2008-10-19). "Red Bulls' Danny Cepero becomes first goalie to score a goal in MLS". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2017-01-02. 
  5. ^ "Union Acquire D/M Williams". Philadelphia Union. August 31, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2016. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Soccer Board of Directors Grants Provisional Division II Stauts to NASL and USL". U.S. Soccer. January 6, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Harrisburg City Islanders Announce George Altirs as Majority Owner". Harrisburg City Islanders. March 24, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Recap: Union net five in second half, top Islanders 5–3". Philadelphia Union. 
  9. ^ "Recap: Islanders edge Union 3–2 in annual friendly". Philadelphia Union. 
  10. ^ "Harrisburg City Islanders and Philadelphia Union Agree to Dissolve Five-Year Exclusive Partnership". 
  11. ^ "City Islanders unveil 10th Anniversary logo". Philly Soccer News. November 30, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Harrisburg City Islanders Unveil 12th Anniversary Logo". Harrisburg City Islanders. February 9, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  13. ^ "City Islanders embrace Central PA, drop 'Harrisburg' from club name". Brotherly Game. May 12, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c "City Islanders Relocated to First National Bank Field". Harrisburg City Islanders. January 26, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Harrisburg City Islanders Take Next Step In New Stadium Project". Harrisburg City Islanders. May 26, 2015. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  16. ^ "USSF Professional Standards". kenn.com blog. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Harrisburg to play at FNB field for 2017". Harrisburg City Islanders. December 21, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  18. ^ CI Hecklers
  19. ^ Sons of the Susquehanna
  20. ^ "Q&A With the Sons of the Susquehanna". PennLive.com. July 11, 2010. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Capital City Crew". Retrieved March 8, 2017. 
  22. ^ a b "City Islanders Roster". Harrisburg City Islanders. July 4, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2017. 
  23. ^ "Tiago Lopes Named Club President". City Islanders Football Club. December 15, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Front Office". Harrisburg City Islanders. Retrieved August 6, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Bill Becher Adds GM Title to Head Coaching Duties". Harrisburg City Islanders. February 9, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  26. ^ "City Islanders Claim 2016 Keystone Derby Cup with Draw Against Pittsburgh". Harrisburg City Islanders. Retrieved 28 August 2016. 
  27. ^ "Islanders Fall in Keystone Derby Cup Final". Harrisburg City Islanders. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 

External links[edit]