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Harrisburg City Islanders 2016 USL Season Preview

It's a new season for the Harrisburg City Islanders, with two new homes and another chance to make it back to the postseason.

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Year founded: 2003

Affiliation: Independent (former affiliate of Philadelphia Union)

2015 record, standing in conference: 11-11-6; 8th in Eastern Conference

2015 playoffs: Did not qualify

Key additions: Bobby Warshaw, Darvin Ebanks, Aaron Wheeler

Key departures: Yann Ekra, Neil Schaffer, Jason Plumhoff

Overview of team heading into season: The 2015 season for the Harrisburg City Islanders should be one to forget for the faithful.

Aside from a five-game unbeaten streak at the early part of the season, there wasn’t very much to smile about. A third round exit in the US Open Cup really did not help matters either. Harrisburg was also a part of the legendary Miracle on the Mon against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium, but was on the receiving end of the 6-5 final.

One shining bright spot was midfielder Jason Plumhoff, who netted 10 league goals for Harrisburg.

Why you should watch Harrisburg City Islanders in 2016: If playing at a new field gets you excited, Harrisburg is giving you two options this year. The City Islanders will be splitting their time between FNB Field in Harrisburg and Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster. This is a result of Harrisburg keeping up with USL stadium regulations and the fact that Harrisburg’s previous home at Skyline Sports Complex is not where it needs to be.

Harrisburg will also be without the Philadelphia Union as a MLS affiliate, and will go as an independent club this season. This will provide the club wider options and more flexibility for roster building and certain other aspects for the club as a whole.

If the City Islanders don’t have make the playoffs this year, there is always the Keystone Cup. The rivalry between Harrisburg and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds was magnified last year for the inaugural cup. The Riverhounds may have won the first year, but it wasn’t without some excitement, as two of the three matchups ended with seven or more goals scored between the two teams.

3 Players to watch:

Nick Noble will be defending the Harrisburg goalmouth for his fourth season. Noble notched nine shutouts in his 26 starts for the City Islanders and had a 1.89 goals against average. He will also provide the always much-needed veteran leadership for this club.

Jose Barril makes 2016 his third season wearing the City Islanders jersey. The former Real Madrid product (yes, that Real Madrid) has played in 48 games. Look for Barril to have a strong season anchoring the Harrisburg midfield.

Danny DiPrima is returning from a season-ending knee injury and looks to make a dent in the 2016 season. DiPrima was a part of the 2014 roster that made the championship final, providing a goal and assist in 15 games that campaign.

The 2016 season will be a success if… They remember their history. Last year, Harrisburg did not make the playoffs for only the third time in club history, but looking back in the club's history, that might bode as a good omen. After not making the playoffs in the 2007 season, HCI won the USL second division championship and made the 2011 USL PRO finals after a forgettable 2010 season

Relevant links

Official site: cityislanders.com

Twitter: @City_Islanders