Empire Signs Ex-MLS Prospect Harold Hanson

by Gunnar Berndt

Ontario native adds wealth of experience in professional outdoor soccer

Ontario, Calif. — The Empire Strykers today announced they have signed Ontario native Harold Hanson through the 2024-25 Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) season. The 24-year-old is a former top prospect of the outdoor game, having represented the United States at various youth levels and having racked up numerous appearances over the course of four seasons with the Portland Timbers organization. As per league and team policies, financial terms of Hanson’s contract with the Strykers were not disclosed.

Growing up, Empire’s latest addition impressed with local elite youth club FC Golden State, where he played under the Strykers’ long-time head coach and current executive vice president, Jimmy Nordberg.

“In (offseason arrival) Bryce Watson and Harold Hanson, we’ve attracted two of the absolute best talents I had the pleasure of working with when they first came onto the scene,” said Nordberg. “While Harold is both fast and an intimidating physical presence, he also has a powerful shot and a great touch that should lend themselves very well to the indoor game. His ability to learn and adapt quickly makes me think we won’t have to wait long before we reap the benefits of Harold’s decision to return to the Inland Empire.”

Hanson’s performances with FC Golden State drew the attention of Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Portland Timbers, which recruited the then 17-year-old for its reserve squad, Portland Timbers 2, in 2017. The Ghanaian-American would spend four seasons with the club, playing several different positions and accumulating nearly 80 appearances for “T2,” which competed at the highest tier of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) and thus the second-highest level of professional outdoor soccer in the country. During his time in Oregon, Hanson also saw the field for the Timbers first team in both MLS and the U.S. Open Cup.

When Portland’s reserve squad went on hiatus following the 2020 USL Championship season, Hanson, 21 by that point, moved back to California. He would spend 2021 surveying his options before eventually lacing up for NISA side Albion San Diego in 2022 and Fresno-based Central Valley Fuego of USL League One earlier this year. Following the 2023 outdoor season, the Inland Empire native spoke to his former agent and the Strykers’ current general manager, Oliver King, who invited him to training. Having accepted, Hanson immediately took to the turf and earned himself a spot on the roster as a forward.

“It’s a great opportunity and a good decision for me” said Hanson, who has represented his country at the U-15, U-16, and U-18 levels. “I like the guys and it’s very competitive, so it’s a lot of fun playing pro indoor soccer for the first time. It feels like I’m showing the coaches what I bring to the table and that my skill set can be of help. I haven’t really set any individual goals for myself, but I do hope to score in my first game. I’m also thinking about how we can make the playoffs and win a championship. I know the team hasn’t had the best results so far, but we have a lot of talented players and the potential to go far.”

Harold Hanson and the Empire Strykers take on the visiting Tacoma Stars at Ontario’s Toyota Arena on Thursday, December 28, at 7:05 p.m. PT. Tickets to the crucial contest are $10 regardless of seat and are available here.