The Harrisburg City Islanders continue on the road for the first leg of the new Capelli Sport Hero Cup against the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday, July 8 at 6:05 p.m.
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This is the first matchup of the season between these two old-time USL foes. Last season, the two met twice with Rochester coming away undefeated in the season series. Harrisburg managed two goals in those two matches but only grabbed one point in a draw at FNB Field late in the season.
This year the Rhinos and City Islanders created the Capelli Sport Hero Cup, which will benefit military personnel and first responders. The Hero Cup will be awarded to the team who wins the rivalry season-series between the two clubs. The two teams will wear special Capelli Sport camouflage jerseys for each match that will be auctioned off to the public from July 8th to August 15th via Bidr online platform.
Harrisburg has found recent success with two straight wins and a four-goal offensive explosion in their last match against Toronto FC II. The offense, which had been a problem, got rolling with Pedro Ribeiro’s efforts in the match against now, league-leading Louisville City FC.
Ribeiro also made an impact on the game with heavy shots on goal and skill through the midfield and attacking third.
Against Toronto last Saturday, Ribeiro notched a beautiful laser of a shot off of a free kick that had the perfect placement to sail right by the outstretched goalie. He also tallied an assist on the second goal of the game and again was a force in the offensive end.
While Harrisburg has been known this season for their defense, they took a step back in the last match in giving up three goals to a team who had only six goals until that point.
The team has used many different combinations in their backline and have seen a lot of success in front of Brandon Miller. If Harrisburg is going to continue a run towards a playoff spot, the defense needs to step up to help keep the Islanders in the matches.
Rochester is currently occupying the final spot in the playoffs with 21 points on the season. They only have one win in their last five matches, which includes two losses and two draws. Rochester has put up big numbers on offense this season with ten different players tallying goals all led by Wal Fall who has four goals on the season.
While Harrisburg is coming into the match with a good bit of rest under their belt, the Rhinos have a quick three-day turnaround from their draw against St. Louis FC on Wednesday.
A win would give Harrisburg three in a row and put them right on the cusp of the top-half of the table and a playoff spot for the first time this season.
The City Islanders will return home on Tuesday, July 12 to take on the New York Red Bulls II at FNB Field (7 p.m.) Harrisburg stays at home for two more matches on Saturday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 18 both matches at 7 p.m.