CHESTER, Pa. – If Morgan Langley needed a reminder he’s no longer in Major League Soccer, he got one over the weekend when the Harrisburg City Islanders team he plays for took an 18-hour bus trip to Orlando for a Friday night game, a seven-hour bus ride to Charleston for a Saturday night game and then a 10-hour bus ride back home.
That’s the way of life these days for Langley, who was on the Philadelphia Union for the final month of the 2011 season before the club declined his option in the offseason and he returned to Harrisburg, the USL-Pro side where he got his professional start in 2011.
“The glamor is not there,” Langley told MLSsoccer.com by phone Monday. “We don’t have a locker room after practice. At the Union, there was a cooler filled with every type of Gatorade and protein shake I could ever imagine. We don’t have any of that. We don’t have anyone doing our own laundry. We’re taking buses everywhere. There’s no glamor.”
But for a player that was once cut from his high school team in Hawaii (because his coach told him he was “vertically challenged”) and later rode the bench at Division III Swarthmore, Langley doesn’t need any glamor. All that he’s looking for right now is consistent playing time and a platform to prove that he has the talent and drive to return to MLS.
On Tuesday evening at PPL Park, he’ll get his best chance yet to do that as the City Islanders take on their MLS affiliate, the Philadelphia Union, in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup (7:30 pm ET, streamed live on philadelphiaunion.com). Langley is one of three ex-Union players to take on his former team; the others are midfielder J.T. Noone, who played for Philly during their 2010 expansion season, and Tom Brandt, who was drafted in the 2012 Supplemental Draft by the Union before being released in the preseason.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to be able to go back and play against my old club,” Langley said. “One reporter asked if I want vengeance. No, I don’t want vengeance. But I do want to show them that, ‘Hey, maybe they made a little bit of a mistake.’”
Langley remains thankful the Union signed him at the end of the 2011 season, and even more thankful that, two days later, he was inserted into the game for the final 10 minutes of Philly’s 1-0 win over Columbus on Sept. 17.
But the 23-year-old midfielder didn’t play again the rest of the season and was released just a few months after his MLS debut. He said it was “difficult to see” that his option wasn’t picked up but also noted that it “wasn’t the first time” he was cut.
And so instead of sulking, he decided right away to return to Harrisburg, the team that took on a chance on him when he came out of Swarthmore as a little-known pro prospect in 2011. And now he finds himself as a key cog on a talented squad of MLS hopefuls that already shocked two MLS sides en route to the Open Cup quarterfinals.
“I had reached part of my goal, which is to play in [an MLS] game,” Langley said. “But when I looked at it as a kid, my dream wasn’t to step on the field for 10 minutes. It was a dream come true. But it was only part of the dream. I’ve still got more to do. I’m still searching for the dream.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.