The City Islanders currently sit in 5th place at 17 points with a minus 8 goal differential. With three games remaining this season (two versus the Riverhounds) they are grasping for breath. A win or tie by the Hounds this Wednesday will eliminate Harrisburg from playoff contention. So where did it all go wrong in a season that should have seen the City Islanders competing for the championship? First off, Hounds' gaffer Justin Evans was able to convince scoring sensation Chad Severs to leave Harrisburg and sign for Pittsburgh. This left a big hole in their lineup that's been tough to fill. Second, the Philadelphia Union hasn't lived up to their end of the bargain in my estimations. Sure, some high-level talent has played a few games in Harrisburg this season, but rotating players into and out of the lineup on a weekly basis keeps a team from gelling into a contender. Also, the timing of a recent friendly between the two sides came at a terrible junction in the season for Harrisburg.
They had just completed a four game unbeaten streak, winning three times for 10 points. On the 21st they traveled down to DC to take on United in the US Open Cup and came away empty. Then, after losing 3-2 at home to Charleston on the 24th, the Islanders hosted the Union on the 27th. Playing their starting XI was a mistake as they dropped their next game at Richmond on the 31st, 2-0. They're a tired and battered squad who could have used an extra few days off instead of worrying about a meaningless game.
Perhaps something good will come of their partnership in the future, and maybe they'll learn from these mistakes for next season, but I for one am glad that the Hounds haven't bent over for an overrated and under-talented MLS club.
Have fun propping up the table with Maryland.