Official release from Harrisburg City Islanders
Philadelphia Union and the Harrisburg City Islanders today announced that the clubs have expanded their partnership, allowing players to stay, practice and play vital games along their USL counterparts for an extended period of time, possibly the entire length of the USL campaign.
"Having meaningful competitions at levels below MLS is absolutely critical to the development of aspiring players in North America," said Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. "This partnership sets the stage toward building robust and successful levels below MLS to not only develop players but also, referees and soccer executives."
Similar to Major League Baseball 's farm system, the Union can send First Team players down to Harrisburg for development, to gain extra playing time or to regain fitness following an injury. The player would still be a member of the Union's roster and the club would hold all rights to the player, as well as be responsible for the players' salaries.
"This is a great opportunity to create a system to develop better players and organizations at all levels," states Eric Pettis, CEO Harrisburg City Islanders. "Our partnership is a tremendous example of seeing a bigger vision of what the total development of soccer can be. Creating a system to strengthen the sport much like baseball is imperative to the continued growth in this country. The City Islanders are extremely proud to be a partner with the Philadelphia Union at the inception of this agreement between the MLS and USL PRO."