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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Going back to Cali: Carolina RailHawks oust L.A. Galaxy from U.S. Open Cup with 2-0 victory

Posted by on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 1:42 AM

Robbie Roger and Floyd Franks grapple during the Carolina RailHawks 2-0 U.S. Open Cup win over the L.A. Galaxy at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
  • Derek Anderson
  • Robbie Roger and Floyd Franks grapple during the Carolina RailHawks' 2-0 U.S. Open Cup win over the L.A. Galaxy at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—Moments after his Carolina RailHawks upset the L.A. Galaxy for the second consecutive year in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, manager Colin Clarke paused on the pitch during his walk back to the team’s locker room, gazing up into the gradually emptying grandstands as if to soak up the revelous atmosphere generated all evening by the club record 8,121 fans in attendance.

Minutes later, Clarke entered the media room for his postgame press conference. As he sauntered past on his way to the podium, Clarke glanced over and, smirking like the proverbial cat that ate the canary, shot me a quick wink.

The 2-0 win is not only the second straight year the RailHawks have ousted the defending Major League Soccer (MLS) champion Galaxy from the U.S. Open Cup. It is also the third time Clarke has coached a second division club to victory over MLS’s flagship franchise in Cup competition, the first being the Puerto Rico Islanders’ improbable win over the Galaxy in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League.

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    This is the second straight year the RailHawks have eliminated the Galaxy from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Irish, Terps will total five trips to Triangle this season

Posted by on Wed, May 29, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Notre Dame will be visiting the Triangle twice and Maryland thrice according to the ACC’s 2013-24 women’s basketball scheduling parameters announced today.

The conference announced its home-and-home matchups and the other six home opponents for each team in the 16-game schedule.

The 2013 Big East champion Irish, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the conference for play in the fall.

The ACC boasts four of the nation’s top five freshman recruiting classes, with Duke ranked No. 1, UNC No. 2, Maryland No. 4 and Notre Dame No. 5.

This season will mark Wes Moore's debut as head coach at N.C. State.

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    UNC continues home-and-homes with Duke and State; Duke plays Irish twice while Wolfpack doubles up with Wake.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Robbie Rogers, L.A. Galaxy arrive in N.C. in advance of U.S. Open Cup match against Carolina RailHawks

Posted by on Tue, May 28, 2013 at 9:40 PM

The L.A. Galaxy train Tuesday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
  • Neil Morris
  • The L.A. Galaxy train Tuesday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—On Tuesday afternoon, the L.A. Galaxy took to the pristine pitch of Field 3 at WakeMed Soccer Park for a training session in advance of Wednesday’s match against the hometown Carolina RailHawks in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Two days removed from a home win over the Seattle Sounders and five days before a trip to Foxboro, Mass. to face the New England Revolution, a squad of mainly reservists and bench players made the trip to Cary, N.C. for Wednesday’s match. However, many of them were part of the Galaxy contingent that was upset by the RailHawks in last year's U.S. Open Cup.

The more notable names at Tuesday’s training included Michael Stephens, Jose Villarreal, Hector Jiménez, Greg Cochrane and Gyasi Zardes. However, it was newest Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers who drew the most media attention. Rogers made his Galaxy debut on Sunday, becoming the first openly gay player to compete in Major League Soccer (MLS). More pertinent to this week's Cup draw against Carolina is the fact that Rogers has not started a competitive match since late last year. Wednesday’s match provides a much-needed opportunity for Rogers to work on his match fitness, something he addressed with the media after training, among other topics.

Also, Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo spoke to the media in lieu of manager Bruce Arena, who was not at Tuesday’s practice. Indeed, Onalfo said he will be the bench coach for the game against the RailHawks, and Arena will apparently remain in Southern California to prepare for Sunday's match.

The RailHawks and Galaxy kick-off Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. According to a club official, tickets have been purchased from over 107 different cities and 15 different states thus far. VIP and Club sections have sold out, but seats are still available in Premium and Spectator seating categories.

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    Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo, not manager Bruce Arena, will be the bench coach for Wednesday's match.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Robbie Rogers to travel with L.A. Galaxy to face Carolina RailHawks in U.S. Open Cup

Posted by on Sun, May 26, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Robbie Rogers will be part of the L.A. Galaxy squad that travels to Cary, N.C. to face the Carolina RailHawks this Wednesday in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

According to an official with knowledge of the situation, Rogers will travel to Cary regardless of whether or not he makes his debut for the Galaxy tonight when it hosts the Seattle Sounders at The Home Depot Center.

The 26-year-old Rogers played for the Columbus Crew from 2007-11, including the 2008 team that won the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup. Rogers also had 18 caps and two goals for the U.S. National Team from 2009-11.

Rogers left Columbus to join Leeds United in 2011, where he played sparingly over two injury-hampered seasons. He also appeared nine times during a loan stint with League One side Stevenage from August 2012 through last January.

In February, Rogers announced that he is gay and retired from competitive soccer. However, in April he decided to return to Major League Soccer (MLS) and began training with the Galaxy. However, the Chicago Fire acquired Rogers’ player rights from Columbus in February, and Rogers publicly stated he would not play for the Fire.

This week, the Galaxy and Fire finalized a trade for Rogers that sent Galaxy forward Mike Magee to Chicago. Rogers was introduced to the Los Angeles media yesterday, and today the Galaxy announced the club has formally received his International Transfer Certificate, making him officially eligible to make his Galaxy debut as early as tonight against the Sounders, a game that will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 11:00 p.m. ET.

When Rogers makes his debut, he will become the first openly gay male athlete to compete in an American professional team sport.

The news that Rogers will travel to Cary and may feature against the RailHawks is unsurprising from a soccer viewpoint. Many MLS clubs, particularly the Galaxy, field squads comprising second-stringers and reservists during their early U.S. Open Cup matches. Moreover, Galaxy manager Bruce Arena recently groused about his team being “shuffled off” to North Carolina for their third round Open Cup match. However, despite Rogers’ player pedigree and recent heightened profile, he has seen little competitive action over the past 12 months and none since January. A midweek Cup match provides an opportunity for Rogers to work toward getting match fit.

The Carolina RailHawks and L.A. Galaxy kick off this Wednesday, May 29 at 7:00 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park.

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    When Rogers makes his Galaxy debut, he'll become the first openly gay male athlete to compete in an American professional team sport.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Galaxy's not so far, far away: Carolina RailHawks deactivates Dynamo 3-1, will host MLS champs next Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup

Posted by on Wed, May 22, 2013 at 1:16 AM

Teammates congratulate Zack Schilawski after his goal during the Carolina RailHawks 3-1 win over the Carolina Dynamo Tuesday in Cary
  • Rob Kinnan
  • Teammates congratulate Zack Schilawski after his goal during the Carolina RailHawks' 3-1 win over the Carolina Dynamo Tuesday in Cary
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—Last year, the Carolina RailHawks entered play in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup riding a nine-game winless skid to open the NASL season. Moreover, the RailHawks knew that a loss to PSA Elite, their second round Open Cup opponent, meant squandering the lucrative opportunity to host the defending MLS champion L.A. Galaxy the next week. Carolina’s 6-0 onslaught over PSA Elite got the RailHawks off the schneid and set the stage for an improbable win over the Galaxy.

Tuesday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, a different RailHawks squad took the field, one atop the NASL standings and winners of all three of its home league matches. Yet, the Open Cup mission remained the same: defeat your lower division opponent and next week you get the chance to again host the still-defending MLS champion Galaxy. But while the execution this year wasn’t nearly as overwhelming, the outcome was the same: a 3-1 victory by the RailHawks over the Carolina Dynamo and a Wednesday, May 29 date to host the Galaxy in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

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    The RailHawks advances to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup and hosts the L.A. Galaxy May 29.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Carolina RailHawks goes down to Atlanta Silverbacks 2-0 for RailHawks' first loss of season

Posted by on Sat, May 18, 2013 at 10:39 PM

ATLANTA SILVERBACKS PARK/ WEBCAST—The Carolina RailHawks went down to Georgia unbeaten and first place in the 2013 NASL Spring season standings. Carolina left with their first defeat of the season, a 2-0 loss to the feisty, much-improved Atlanta Silverbacks in front of an officially announced crowd of 4,716.

The RailHawks found themselves behind the eight ball early. In the 6th minute, Milton Blanco played a ball ahead to an officially onsides Rubén Luna. Luna rounded goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald, then delivered an angled shot that deflected off defender Paul Hamilton positioned goalmouth and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

Matters worsened for Carolina when Hamilton was forced to leave the game in the 16th minute. According to Jarrett Campbell, who was among a contingent of RailHawks supporters who made the trip to Atlanta for the match, Hamilton said postgame that he suffered a concussion.

Nevertheless, Carolina was the more aggressive and dangerous side for the remainder of the first half but was unable to convert their chances. Meanwhile, their frustration mounted with referee Jonathan Weiner over a number of curious calls, including a yellow card issued to RailHawks defender Julius James in the 23rd after James was taken down by Luna. Later, a two-footed, studs-up challenge by Atlanta’s Pedro Mendes earned the forward merely a foul but no booking.

When asked on the Silverbacks’ webcast at halftime what changes he might make for the second half, RailHawks manager Colin Clarke shot back, “I hope the referee has a better second half. I thought he was awful.”

Unfortunately, the RailHawks’ frustration with Atlanta's gamesmanship boiled over at the outset of the second stanza, culminating with a reckless challenge by Floyd Franks that drew a straight red card from Weiner. Franks will be suspended the RailHawks’ game at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on June 1.

Once a man down, the RailHawks never got the opportunity to figure out a fast, aggressive Silverbacks midfield and a defense that earned its second consecutive clean sheet. The result was made inevitable in the 76th minute when Martyn Lancaster converted a leaping, point-blank header off a cross from Danny Barrera to account for the final margin.

The RailHawks lone bright spot was, per usual, the goalkeeping of Fitzgerald, who added to his league-leading saves total with a number of fingertip deflections and punchouts.

Carolina (3-2-1, 11 pts.) enters the midway point of the NASL Spring season tied with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, each with 11 points. However, the RailHawks remains atop the table based on goal differential.

The RailHawks has a quick turnaround as it returns to Cary to face the USL PDL’s Carolina Dynamo Tuesday in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The winner will host the L.A. Galaxy, defending MLS champions, in the third round the following Wednesday, May 29.

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    Despite the loss, the RailHawks reaches the midpoint of the NASL Spring season atop the league standings.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Shake-up unfolding in NASL front office staff, per internal league memo

Posted by on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 8:30 PM


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.

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    The changes, which will all take effect this month, include a new Director of Operations and Director of Communications.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mudcats' woes get worse with late Salem comeback

Posted by on Wed, May 15, 2013 at 10:41 PM

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.

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    Red Sox deal Mudcats ninth straight loss at home.

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Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup potential third round matches announced, including possible return visit by L.A. Galaxy to Cary to face RailHawks

Posted by on Wed, May 15, 2013 at 6:49 PM


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.

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    The L.A. Galaxy will visit the winner of Tuesday's Open Cup match between the Carolina RailHawks and Carolina Dynamo.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Carolina Dynamo advance to 2nd round of U.S. Open Cup after shootout thriller over Chattanooga FC

Posted by on Tue, May 14, 2013 at 10:43 PM

MACPHERSON STADIUM/ ONLINE—The spirit of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was splendiferous at Macpherson Stadium in Browns Summit, N.C. as the Carolina Dynamo defeated the NPSL’s Chattanooga FC 4-1 in a PK shootout (4-4 draw) to advance to the second round of the Open Cup.

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.

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    A hat trick from Hakan Ilhan propels the Dynamo to a match against the RailHawks next Tuesday in Cary.

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