The Philadelphia Union became the latest MLS club to take advantage of the league's agreement with the third-division USL Pro, announcing on Monday that they have loaned three young players to their USL Pro affiliate, the Harrisburg City Islanders, for the 2013 season.
Forward Cristhian Hernandez and midfielders Greg Jordan and Jimmy McLaughlin (above) will join the City Islanders on Monday ahead of their USL Pro season-opening match on April 27. The Union will have the option to recall any of the three players during the loan period.
“Cristhian, Greg and Jimmy are young players with a lot of potential, but the reality is that they need game experience at this point in their careers,” Union manager John Hackworth said in a statement. “This opportunity allows them to develop that game experience at a professional level while contributing to the success of our USL Pro affiliate, Harrisburg City Islanders.”
The Harrisburg City Islanders, led by former USL-2 Coach of the Year Bill Becher, are one of 13 USL Pro teams competing in a 26-game regular season from April through August. Winners of the 2011 USL Pro National Division, the Islanders start their quest for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on May 21 in the second round of the tournament.
The Union and the Harrisburg City Islanders announced on March 6 that the clubs expanded their partnership, allowing players to stay, practice and play vital games with their USL counterparts for an extended period of time. Philadelphia will no longer field a Reserve League team, instead incorporating reserve players into the City Islanders to help the team compete for a USL championship.
Hernandez, 19, signed with the Union on March 5, 2012, as the club’s third-ever Homegrown Player. In 2011, he was named the U-17/18 Development Academy Player of the Year by U.S. Soccer and honored as a NJ Star Ledger First Team All-Prep player, scoring 16 goals for St. Benedicts Prep and leading the school to its seventh national championship.
As a Union Academy player in 2011, Hernandez scored the game winner in a 1-0 friendly victory over Everton during his first unofficial appearance for the team. The Mexico native made his MLS debut last year, appearing in two games for a total of 26 minutes.
Jordan, 22, was selected 32nd overall by the Union last year in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. The former NSCAA All-American starred at Creighton University from 2008 to 2011, helping the Blue Jays to a NCAA semifinal appearance in his last year with the team.
After suffering a torn ACL in his sophomore season, the 6-foot Illinois native started in 42 matches over the following two seasons. Since joining the Union, Jordan has played in multiple Reserve League matches as well as a friendly against Aston Villa last July. Last year, he also spent time with Harrisburg on loan.
McLaughlin, 19, was signed by the Union on December 11, 2011, as the club’s second Homegrown Player. In his first and only season with Colgate University, he started all 22 games, a school record for a first-year player. A Union Academy graduate, McLaughlin has seen action in various Reserve League matches and with the first team in exhibition matches against Reading United, Everton, Real Madrid, Schalke 04 and Aston Villa.
He made his professional debut last May during a 3-0 victory over the Rochester Rhinos in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and his MLS debut last October, coming on as a 73rd-minute sub against Sporting KC. McLaughlin also spent a portion of the 2012 season on loan with Harrisburg.
Officially signed in March of 2010, the original partnership with Harrisburg provided the Union with an option to loan players to the Islanders for increased playing time, as well as scout up and coming talent, such as Union starting right back Sheanon Williams, who suited up for the City Islanders in 2010.