A shake-up in the front office of the North American Soccer League (NASL) is currently taking place, with at least three full-time staffers and a contract employee leaving the league by the end of this month.
According to an internal league memorandum from NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson obtained by INDY Week, Chief Operating Officer Darren McCartney, Communications Director Kartik Krishnaiyer and graphic artist Derek Reese are leaving their positions with the league. The three departing staffers are being replaced by Brian Melekian, Michael Preston and Steve Torres.
According to sources close to the situation, McCartney and Krishnaiyer were relieved of their positions, while Reese submitted his resignation. The departures will become effective at various times over the next two weeks. The NASL front office currently has a total of at most nine full-time personnel, including Peterson.
Peterson, who began his tenure as NASL commissioner last November, confirmed both the impending departures and new hirings when reached for comment late this afternoon.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Back again with the Carolina Mudcats, who are desperately needing to mix in a win.
The Carolina League’s last-place team will take a five-game overall losing streak and eight-game overall losing streak into tonight’s contest with the Salem Red Sox.
Salem, incidentally, has been in the CL since 1955 and is the league’s most-renamed team. The franchise has been the Avalanche, Buccaneers and Redbirds during my time covering the league and the Pirates and Rebels before that.
Salem’s pitching coach is Nelson Paulino, whose local claim to fame is that he played for the 1994 Durham Bulls, the last Bulls club to call Durham Athletic Park home.
Jacob Lee (0-3, 5.91) will take on the Sox’ William Cuevas (1-4, 6.66).
This loss is painful, as the Red Sox rally for four runs in the seventh against a tired Lee and escape with a 5-4 win to clinch the series.
A visit from the defending Major League Soccer champion awaits the winner of the Carolina RailHawks and Carolina Dynamo match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup next Tuesday, May 21 in Cary.
This is but one of the potential U.S. Open Cup third round pairings and venues announced Wednesday by U.S. Soccer. Should the RailHawks defeat the Dynamo next Tuesday, they will host the L.A Galaxy the following Wednesday, May 29 at WakeMed Soccer Park. It would be the second consecutive year the RailHawks and Galaxy will have faced each other for the Open Cup in Cary—last year, the RailHawks upset the Galaxy in the third round of the Open Cup. If the Dynamo downs the RailHawks, the Galaxy will visit Macpherson Stadium in Browns Summit, N.C. on May 29.
Of course, every NASL, USL Pro and other lower division participant remaining in the tournament must still handle the business of advancing beyond next Tuesday’s second round. However, several other intriguing MLS matchups await the winners.
A victory over the USL PDL’s Laredo Heat means the Fort Lauderdale Strikers hosts FC Dallas. The San Antonio Scorpions stands to earn a return visit from the Houston Dynamo, which the Scorpions defeated in last year’s tournament. With a win over VSI Tampa next week, the Tampa Bay Rowdies would host the Seattle Sounders, the three-time U.S. Open Cup champions from 2009-11. Minnesota United FC would visit Sporting KC in the third round, and the Atlanta Silverbacks travels to Utah to face Real Salt Lake.
On the USL Pro side, if the Charlotte Eagles defeat the Seattle Sounders U23s next week, Charlotte will host the Chicago Fire the following week. Other possible USL Pro third round matches include D.C. United at Richmond Kickers, New England Revolution at Rochester Rhinos, Philadelphia Union at Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Colorado Rapids at Orlando City SC, and San Jose Earthquakes at Charleston Battery.
The RailHawks and Dynamo take the field next Tuesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park.
In front of 1,221 partisans, the hometown Dynamo struck first in the 22nd minute when N.C. State rising senior Alex Martinez scored from atop the box as his older brother, Real Salt Lake midfielder and current Carolina Railhawks loanee Enzo Martinez, looked on from the grandstands. However, after halftime Chattanooga FC piled on three consecutive goals, including scores from striker Luke Winter in the 53rd and Thibault Charmey in the 66th. Another netter off a goal line scrum in the 77th minute gave Chattanooga FC a seemingly insurmountable lead late in the match.
That’s when the Hakan Ilhan show started. After Dynamo Brandt Bronico was fouled in the box, Ilhan converted a penalty kick in the 83rd minute. Five minutes later, the UNC-Greensboro grad added another goal in the run of play to tie the match 3-3 and send it to extra time.
In the 115th minute, Chattanooga FC seemingly found victory when midfielder Fynn Glover scored off a Chattanooga corner. However, that man Ilhan struck again three minutes later, this time off a Dynamo corner, to give the 6-1 forward a hat trick and knot the score 4-4.
In the ensuing shootout, after both teams converted their opening attempts, Dynamo goalkeeper Peyton Ford saved two consecutive Chattanooga attempts by Silas Reyneke and Chrispin Ochieng. Meanwhile, the Dynamo netted all four of their PKs for the club’s first U.S. Open Cup victory since 2006, a match that saw three ties and three lead changes prior to shootout finale.
The USL PDL side will now make the 90-minute drive to face the NASL-leading Carolina RailHawks in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup next Tuesday, May 21 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Kickoff will be 7:00 p.m.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats will finish their series with the Lynchburg Hillcats on an unseasonably cold evening.
And right now it’s about turning around the momentum.
The Mudcats are in last place in the Carolina League’s Southern Division, 10 games behind first place Myrtle Beach with 34 games left in the half. So for the team, it’s all about getting the momentum headed in the right direction.
The visiting Atlanta Braves’ affiliates will look for a sweep of the four-game series.
Nick Pasquale (0-0, 2.19 at Lake County) will make his Mudcats debut against Navery Moore (2-4, 6.69).
Things don’t go Carolina’s way after the first few innings, as they fall 7-4 and are victims of a four-game sweep in Zebulon for the first time since joining the CL last spring.
Late in the unbeaten Carolina RailHawks’ 5-2 win over the San Antonio Scorpions Saturday evening, Carolina manager Colin Clarke was exhorting his team to continue attacking in search of goals. His presumed purpose was that while Carolina’s back line has improved dramatically from last season, the RailHawks’ best defense remains their potent offense.
But, there may have been another motivation at play.
“[We still had] a bit of a horrible taste in our mouth from last year when we got beat down in San Antonio, so that was still in the back of our mind,” Clarke said. “I’d have loved to stuff a few more in, but five’s pretty good.”
On a perfect night for baseball, with temperatures in the mid 60s, the Durham Bulls defeated the Syracuse Chiefs, 4-2, in its only win of the four-game home stand.
The crowd on hand, 8,227, at Durham Bulls Athletic Park was electric all night and even sustained “the wave” for almost the entirety of the eighth inning.
Bulls fans had plenty to cheer about early and often as the team scored in three consecutive innings, third through fifth, and added an insurance run in the eighth.
Starting pitcher J.D. Martin (4-1) was solid once again this season, completing seven innings of work, allowing five hits, two runs and five strikeouts.
Josh Leuke started the eighth inning in relief of Martin and captured the six-out save, his seventh on the season.
Wil Myers, who started the game in right field, was replaced early in the game by Rich Thompson. Myers being benched created a nervous stir in the crowd and web with rumors spreading about the talented prospect either being traded or called up to Tampa Bay.
I’m a new intern with INDY Week with a primary focus of covering the Durham Bulls over the summer. Next fall I’ll be a senior at N.C. State and the sports editor at N.C. State's campus paper, the Technician.
Tuesday night’s Bulls game was my first experience at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, and this summer I'll be looking for stories as I follow the team. There are 25 players on the active roster, and with all of the comings and goings of a minor league team, I can expect to encounter many new names. So, last night's game against the Syracuse Chiefs was mainly an occasion for me to familiarize myself with the squad.
The Bulls opened the scoring in the first inning as I got my first look at a couple of key prospects. After highly rated Wil Myers singled to center, Leslie Anderson bombed a homer to right to give starting pitcher Alex Torres a 2-0 lead.
Torres put in a good outing, allowing four hits, two walks and seven strikeouts in six innings, but he lived dangerously. He faced back-to-back bases-loaded situations in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Chiefs were unable to get a run across the plate.
Syracuse finally broke through in the seventh, scoring three runs that would decide the game. At the top of the seventh, skipper Charlie Montoyo replaced Torres with De Los Santos, who was quickly replaced after giving up the lead.
Will Inman relieved De Los Santos, and promptly threw the game away.
With a runner in scoring position the Chiefs executed a squeeze bunt, which worked beautifully thanks to Inman. Inman cleanly fielded the bunt but the throw to first base hit the dirt and short hopped the first baseman, sending the Chief base runner home for the go-ahead run.
The Bulls mounted a comeback in the ninth. Anderson and Shelley Duncan both hit back-to-back singles with one out, but the Bulls were unable to score.
Thanks to the three-run seventh, the Chiefs held the Bulls at bay for a 3-2 victory. Here's the box score.
The teams didn't get much of a break afterward, with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch for today. The Chiefs won that one, 5-3, despite 17 strikeouts by three Bulls pitchers. Both teams are back Thursday at 7:05. I'll be there. You can follow my tweets @IndyweekSports and @jastout89.
Etienne and Campos finally reunited Saturday night in Minneapolis, this time as members of Minnesota United FC against the RailHawks. But a star by any other name still shines just a bright, and Etienne was just that, notching a brace for his first goals since returning to the NASL. However, a late golazo by newest RailHawk Enzo Martinez gave Carolina a 2-2 draw with Minnesota and an important road point against the consensus NASL preseason favorites.
The Carolina League plays two 70-game halves, and 28 games into the race they’re in last place and five games out of first in the Southern Division.
Tonight they’ll play the second of a three-game set against the Frederick Keys, affiliates of the Baltimore Orioles, who are percentage points out of first in the Northern Division after a 4-3 win in 11 innings on Friday.
The Keys have several personalities of interest in the lineup. They have last season’s Mudcat center fielder Delvi Cid along with first baseman Connor Narron, who played at C.B. Aycock High in Pikeville and is the son of Milwaukee Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron. And the leadoff man is Johnny Ruettiger, whose uncle Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger was the Notre Dame football walkon portrayed by Sean Astin in the hit movie “Rudy.”
Southpaw Elvis Araujo, recovering from an elbow injury, makes his Mudcats debut against Zach Petersime (1-2, 7.85), who is going on three days’ rest.
Tonight the Keys make the most out of a few clutch hits, scoring four runs in the last three innings to win 7-4.