USLers hoping to get noticed in friendly with Union
Brian Ackley was frustrated with his situation at the Czech Republic club FK Pribram and decided he needed to return to the United States. J.T. Noone (pictured above) was upset when he was one of the last players to be waived by the Philadelphia Union shortly before the 2011 season began.
These days, Ackley and Noone have a new home with the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL Professional Division, one they hope will serve as a gateway to Major League Soccer.
And both will get a chance to impress at least one MLS team when the Philadelphia Union visit Skyline Sports Complex for an exhibition against their affiliate Islanders on Wednesday (7 pm ET).
“For me, I’m always trying to get to the next level,” Ackley told MLSsoccer.com. “I just enjoy the game so much.”
Ackley, a big target forward who played at Indiana University from 2005-08, trialed with a few different European clubs before inking a deal with Pribram in late 2010. But he said things quickly soured when a new coach came in and the president of the club was dealing with a health problem.
“It added up and I wasn’t ready to live there anymore,” he said.
So Ackley, a North Carolina native, returned to his home country, where he hooked up with another Union affiliate — Reading United AC of the USL Premier Development League — before joining Harrisburg earlier this month when Reading’s season ended.
While at Reading, the 24-year-old striker was called up for two Union Reserve League games but admitted they were “two of the worst games of his career.” He’s hoping to show a little better Wednesday night.
“I’m hoping to rewrite the past and get noticed,” Ackley said. “I’d love to get that opportunity.”
Philly coaches are already familiar with Noone, who was signed by the Union midway through their inaugural season last year. Noone, who played his college ball at Philly’s Temple University, never made his official MLS debut but still very much enjoyed his few months with the club.
“I really liked the team and the area because I went to school there,” said Noone, who remains in close contact with Union players Danny Mwanga and Stefani Miglioranzi. “I was really familiar with everything and liked the city a lot. I still have good friends on the team.”
Luckily for him, Noone is also quite familiar with the City Islanders. A Harrisburg native, the 23-year-old midfielder played for the USL Pro club all of this season and parts of last season, even while he was training with the Union.
Naturally, he’d love to return to the Union, or any other MLS team. But he’s also happy to be playing professional soccer in his hometown, especially during weeks like this one when the Islanders host the Union on Wednesday before taking on the Rochester Rhinos in the National Division Final on Friday.
“For now, I’m just concentrating on playing where I’m at it,” Noone said. “I’ll evaluate everything else at the end of the season.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.