Penn FC will take the 2019 season off to work on a new-stadium solution before joining USL League One — the old USL DIII — in 2020.
Penn FC has played out of several facilities in recent years, with all 2018 matches taking place at FNB Field, home of the baseball Harrisburg Senators. The former Harrisburg City Islanders was rebranded before the start of the 2018 season.
“We’re incredibly disappointed not to take part in the 2019 season,” said Penn FC Owner Eric Pettis in a press release. “However, we remain wholly committed to finding a solution to our stadium situation and ensuring that we can continue to bring high-level professional soccer to our fans in the region. We look forward to launching a new era of Penn FC in 2020.”
The transitional period also has the team moving out of its present facility at the end of the year. The team has been a success on the field — it’s only one of three USL squads to have reached the USL Cup on two separate occasions in the league’s modern era and regularly found success in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, reaching the quarterfinals on four occasions. At the end of the day, the lack of a suitable soccer-only home was too much of a hardship for team ownership.
“The lack of a serviceable stadium solution has presented a tremendous challenge for Penn FC,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “Our league has grown and matured to a point where having a strong venue that allows for proper scheduling, a quality in-stadium experience and better opportunities on both the business and technical sides is absolutely essential. With that said, we have great faith in Eric and his team and look forward to welcoming them back in 2020.”
“Not competing in the USL in 2019 is in the best interest for the future of Penn FC,” said Penn FC Vice President of Business Operations Anthony Rios. “While we are disappointed that we will not be on the field, this is only the beginning of an exciting new era for the club. We are not bidding farewell to the league, but rather saying hello to USL League One in 2020.”
As noted, the new USL League One is the former USL DII, competing in the third division of the U.S. soccer pyramid. USL League One launches in 2019 with eight announced teams — South Georgia Tormenta FC (Statesboro, GA), FC Tucson (Tucson, AZ), Greenville Triumph SC (Greenville, SC), Madison Pro Soccer (Madison, WI), Toronto FC II (Toronto, Ontario), Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (Chattanooga, TN), Orlando City B (Orlando, FL) and the Richmond Kickers (Richmond, VA) — and two more on tap for 2020.