Philadelphia Union announced Monday a partnership with the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL Second Division, further extending the Major League Soccer club's player development model.
The City Islanders will be Philadelphia Union's Exclusive USL-2 Affiliate Club.
"Player development is a key component to building the quality club and organization we will be," explained Nick Sakiewicz, CEO & Operating Partner of Philadelphia Union. "With the Harrisburg City Islanders and our previously announced relationship with Reading United AC, Philadelphia Union Team Manager Peter Nowak will instill 'first team' principles in training and playing attacking, attractive football throughout Pennsylvania that our supporters will truly enjoy. We're eager to get going."
The City Islanders will become a key part of Philadelphia's player development strategy, as the club will have the option to loan players to Harrisburg for increased playing time. As partners, both clubs will also work to help identify City Islander players who have the potential to make the leap to MLS. The relationship continues the growth of Philadelphia Union's player development strategy, building off of previously established relationships with PDL squad Reading United AC, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association (EPYSA), Delaware Youth Soccer Association (DYSA) and YSC Sports.
"We're proud and excited to make this announcement today," said City Islanders President Eric Pettis. "Before they've even played a game, Philadelphia Union have proven themselves to be a truly first-class organization. Both clubs will see numerous benefits, on and off the field, as a result of this partnership. It's a natural fit."
An annual friendly match in Harrisburg between the clubs (date to be announced) is another highlight of the partnership. Other components will include cross promotional opportunities, clinics and Philadelphia Union player appearances in Harrisburg during the summer and off-season.
"We've worked with MLS clubs frequently over the years, but to formalize a relationship like this is ideal," said City Islanders Head Coach Bill Becher. "I think players and staff from both clubs will see real benefits as a result."
Philadelphia Union's first-ever First Kick will take place March 25, 2010 vs. Seattle Sounders FC at Seattle's Qwest Field. The club's home opener will be April 10, 2010 vs. D.C. United at Lincoln Financial Field. On June 27, 2010, Philadelphia Union will open PPL Park vs. Seattle Sounders FC.