There’s two types of kids in this world, those that lived in the same place their entire childhood and those that moved repeatedly like American nomads. I fall into the second category. Originally born in Aransas Pass, Texas, my family moved all over the Lone Star State before heading to the Midwest and spending years in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. When someone asks me where I’m from, I typically have an aneurysm and twitch on the ground.
During my stay in Pennsylvania, I lived in a tiny town called Sunbury, which is charming in an upstate Pennsylvania sort of way. There’s a lot of land between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and my family lived in that beautiful middle ground. Our town was right on the Susquehanna River, fucking gorgeous. Right down that river is the capital of the state, Harrisburg. Also the home of the Harrisburg City Islanders.
When I first heard of the City Islanders, I thought, what the fuck? there’s no island near Harrisburg. But I was wrong. Tucked neatly in the heart of the city, surrounded by the mighty Susquehanna River, lies City Island, a one-mile long island dominated by sports fields and parks.
Within this tiny bit of Pennsylvania heaven, in 2003, the Harrisburg City Islanders were formed. The club has had the same head coach since inception, which is a little crazy until you consider the amount of success the club has had. Bill Becher (a former NPSL player in late 80s and early 90s) has a record of 120-81-74, making the playoffs 9 times. While they can claim a star by winning the USL Championship in 2007, their real success is rooted in the US Open Cup. The Islanders have a 12-5-3 record in the competition, with winning records against PDL and USL clubs. But what is most striking is their 4-4-1 record against MLS clubs. Numerous times, they are the last USL club standing in the USOC tourney.
So what is this powerhouse doing this year? In USL play, the club is mid table with a 4-5-1 record and a -1 goal differential. In USOC, as you may have guessed, they have advanced to third round and will be facing NPSL club Chattanooga FC (June 1). No surprise there.
It’s nice to know in the heart of upstate Pennsylvania there’s a soccer club that continues to churn out winning season after winning season. They succeed in the tournaments they shouldn’t and they sustain excellence in league play. Cheers to the City Islanders!