Spring is finally kicking in, and Hartford Athletic has made a variety of new signings and announced the dates of the opening matches for the new season in addition to partnerships with other soccer clubs over the past couple of months. Start getting the Brass Bonanza ready ahead of the Connecticut capital’s third season in the USL Championship!
Among the biggest news to come out from the club since my first update on Jan. 20 was the announcement of the season and home openers for the 2021 campaign. On March 23, Hartford announced its season opener, which is set to be played April 30 on the road against the New York Red Bulls II. Fans will have to wait until May 15 to see the Boys in Green at Dillon Stadium when they face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Hartford also announced a preseason schedule that starts on March 31, but it is only available to season pass holders.
The 2021 season will also be formatted differently compared to last year. This time around, the league has been divided into four divisions with seven or eight teams in each: the Atlantic (where Hartford will be), Central, Pacific and Mountain. Hartford will see old rivals like Pittsburgh, Loudoun United and Red Bulls II, but it will also face teams like the Charleston Battery and the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
As for signings, Hartford added eight more players to their roster since my Jan. 20 update. Two were signed at the end January: defender Thomas Janjigian from Reno 1868 and goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell, who spent a year with New England Revolution. Other notable signees include Puerto Rican international Nicolás Cardona, Red Bulls II’s Sebastian Elney (who faced Hartford three times in the 2020 season and scored once) and forward Bradford Jamieson IV, an LA Galaxy homegrown player.
The club is expected to announce a couple more players before the start of the season.
Amid the new signing of players to the club, Hartford Athletic announced a partnership with Leyton Orient, a team from across the pond playing in England’s League Two, a fourth-division league. The club isn’t a stranger to professional English sides as the current head coach, Harry Watling, worked in West Ham’s academy system prior to his Athletic job while former coach Radhi Jaïdi and midfielder Tyreke Johnson came from Southampton’s U-23 squad.
Hartford Athletic also announced a partnership with AC Connecticut, a team from the USL League Two. In a club statement, Hartford said this partnership’s focus is to construct a pathway for the beautiful game on a professional level in the state.
Given the quality of players the club brought this time around, it will be interesting to see Hartford’s push for some silverware after crashing out early in the postseason playoff tournament last year against St. Louis. While Hartford will know their rivals’ play style from last season well, they will have to find ways to overcome teams they haven’t seen since the inaugural season and those who they will be facing for the first time.