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March to the Match: City Islanders

WHO: Harrisburg City Islanders, 7th in the Eastern Conference, 28 points, 8-7-4

WHAT: Louisville City’s first trip to Harrisburg, PA, a bustling metropolis if ever there was one.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 12, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: City Stadium on the City Island in Harrisburg, which is also a city.

WATCH: With us at Against the Grain, just like you always do! But if the man’s holding you down and you have to be at work at your very important job which is just about the only excuse NOT to be at Against the Grain, then watch it here:

WHO, AGAIN? Harrisburg City Islanders actually made the USL Championship game last year. Not many people remember that! I know I didn’t, until I was googling for funny pictures of some City Islanders and saw a bunch of promotion materials for it.

While Harrisburg made a magical run through the playoffs last season, not many expect that to happen for them this year. HCI is about as close to a .500 team as you can get, something St. Louis fans can only dream about. Interestingly enough, Harrisburg has been jockeying with Keystone State rivals Pittsburgh all season for that last playoff spot, and with a game in hand have a chance to do it on Wednesday night at home.

Harrisburg is pretty good at home, 5-2-2, though they don’t seem to score or defend any better there than they do on the road. HCI has given up only five more goals than they’ve scored on the season, their goals scored per game figure is pretty close to goals conceded, and their shot statistics are equal in terms of those taken and given up. As such, their stats pretty much mirror their record. The City Islanders have also alternated winning and losing each of their last eight games, which was preceded by a three game streak of draws.

While the City Islanders’ results are in a constant state of flux, their starting eleven is not. Seven of their players have started at least fifteen games. The defense is pretty leaky, having given up eleven goals in their last five matches. Offensively, their leading scorer is No. 10 Jason Plumhoff, with 5 goals and five assists on the season. Cardel Benbow leads the team in shots, though he only has two goals on the season to show for it, while Enric Valles leads the team with six assists. Ken Tribbett is another player to watch for.  Nick Noble, their goalkeeper, has started all but one game for HCI.

I’ll be honest, I’m grasping at straws here. There’s almost nothing remarkable about Harrisburg, which isn’t even a real city, or its island. Sorry.

SUPPORTERS: Sons of the Susquehanna, the river in which the City Island squats. I mean, okay, I guess. It’s alliterative. It’s hard for the average American to spell. It’s very Revolutionary War, and that’s not a bad thing. But are they real?

Well, about seven of them are. Their Facebook page leads to a link which returns an Error 404: Page Not Found on Harrisburg City Islanders’ website. Here’s a video of them, offered without any snarky comment whatsoever, watching HCI play in a USOC match back in 2012:

What I’m trying to say is I guess seven dudes make a supporters group. Good for them.

GAME PREDICTIONS: Well, Aodhan Quinn will be back in the pivot with Juan Guzman thank goodness, but now we have a question mark about whether Conor Shanosky is healthy. The worst part about that is that there’s no clear replacement for him at center back. Adam West could fill in but, like Batman, no one has seen him for what seems like months now. This could be Sean Reynolds’s big chance. Charlie Adams, who had been playing attacking midfield on the left, may or may not play, but attacking midfielders is the one thing Louisville City has plenty of. Hoping for an Ilija Ilic breakthrough, myself.

Anyway, I’m hoping for a clean sheet but am not altogether optimistic about it. The Bourbons have to be smarting from that loss last week and will likely be taking the initiative in this game, so I like them to continue their winning ways on the road. 1-2, Louisville City.