Photo courtesy Harrisburg City Islanders
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Honors ended even between the Harrisburg City Islanders and Charlotte Independence on Tuesday night as they played to a 1-1 draw at FNB Field, ending the Independence’s six-game winning streak. Both teams looked to set a high tempo early, but the first good chance didn’t arrive until a corner kick for the City Islanders in the 23rd minute that saw Rasheed Olabiyi’s header tipped over by Independence goalkeeper Cody Mizell. The Independence went close two minutes before the halftime break when a half-cleared corner kick came to Alex Martinez, but his fierce shot from the left side of the penalty area was parried by City Islanders goalkeeper Brandon Miller. Harrisburg took the lead in first half stoppage time, however, as Ropapa Mensah headed home from John Grosh’s cross from the right side of the penalty area. Charlotte leveled six minutes into the second half as Enzo Martinez centered toward Jorge Herrera from the right, and the Colombian put home from close range after initially being denied by the City Islanders’ defense for his 11th goal of the season. The Independence almost took the lead in the 63rd minute when Martinez took a knockdown from Herrera 14 yards from goal, but Miller made a strong save to keep the game level. Harrisburg almost regained the lead with 13 minutes to go as Paul Wilson’s shot flashed just wide of the right post, but then the game went into a lightning delay with 10 minutes to go. When the teams emerged 30 minutes later both pressed for a winner, and the City Islanders almost grabbed victory when Rasheed Olabiyi’s shot after a good cutback from Danny DiPrima was blocked on the line by Callum Ross, but neither side found the decisive goal to earn all three points.
45+’ – HAR – Ropapa Mensah (John Grosh)
51’ – CLT – Jorge Herrera
#HARvCLT: Full Match and Opta Box Score
Three Things That Matter:
1. After Charlotte had held the upper hand for most of the second half, the lightning delay played into the hands of the City Islanders, who after looking heavy-legged came out rejuvenated after the half-hour delay. Harrisburg had the biggest chance to claim victory with two minutes to go as a cutback found Rasheed Olabiyi eight yards from goal, but Callum Ross was on the goal-line to make a crucial block for the Independence. The game ending all square was probably a fair result, however, as both teams put in positive performances indicative of their recent form.
2. The Independence didn’t register a shot for the opening 40 minutes of the game, but when the Independence hit their stride at the start of the second half the visitors took control of the game as their precision in the attacking half paid off regularly. At the forefront remained the combination of Jorge Herrera and Enzo Martinez, whose understanding as they played off each other resulted in the equalizer, and could have brought more. With his 11th goal of the season, Herrera has now set a new individual single-season high, and gives the Colombian seven goals in his past four games. As Charlotte returns home, it does so still within range of the Charleston Battery at the top of the Eastern Conference, three points back with a game in hand.
3. As in the City Islanders’ past two outings, one of their best players on the field was forward Ropapa Mensah, who not only scored his second goal in as many games, but also provided invaluable hold-up play that allowed Harrisburg to look the more dangerous side in the first half. Mensah’s play was best illustrated in his goal, which saw the 19-year-old Ghanaian hold off his defender and flick a pass wide to John Grosh before making his move to meet a great floated cross by Grosh to head home. Mensah’s potential is there to see, and he could be a very bright prospect by the end of the season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Rasheed Olabiyi, Harrisburg City Islanders – Olabiyi was a strong presence at both ends of the field, recording four tackles and five interceptions while also connecting well in attack.
Harrisburg City Islanders at FC Cincinnati – July 22, 7 p.m. ET, Nippert Stadium
Charlotte Independence vs. Richmond Kickers – July 26, 7 p.m. ET, Sportsplex at Matthews