Both programs are optimistic about this season. Duke went 6-7 last time and played in its first bowl game since 1994, while NCCU was 6-5 for its first winning season since playing a MEAC Division I schedule.
Duke leads the series 2-0, winning the contests by a combined 103 points to 31.
And there are changes atop the casts of characters. NCCU has a new coach in Dwayne Foster, who will be at the helm for the first time in a college game today. Foster took the wheel when Henry Frazier III was fired last week for charges in connection with the violation of a protective order filed by his ex-wife.
David Cutcliffe returns for his sixth season with the Blue Devils, who have a new quarterback in junior Anthony Boone.
Senior Jordan Reid quarterbacks the Eagles.
This one is all Blue Devils, as Duke rolls up 488 yards total offense and records its first shutout in 24 years in a 45-0 romp that ends a five-game losing streak.
With the Hawks nesting in their backfield, the visitors stumbled across just two shots over 103 minutes of ho-hum regular and overtime play. And while the Tar Heels took 12 shots, those attempts came only via arduous effort. Ultimately, a seeing-eye score in double overtime by junior transfer Tyler Engel gave UNC a 1-0 victory in front of a Labor Day weekend crowd of 3,726.
Six of Carolina’s shots came from the forward tandem of Engel and senior Josh Rice, who also strafed Monmouth from off the wings all night. Three others, however, came from speedy left back Jordan McCrary, who would eventually figure in the game winner.
Two minutes into the second 10-minute overtime session, McCrary found fellow defender Nick Williams in the right corner. Williams in turn centered the ball to Engel just inside the 18-yard box. The SMU transfer turned and made true contact, sailing the ball into the upper 90.
“Jordan played a good ball across to to Nick, and I just tried to get over there as quick as possible in order to prevent [the defense] from sliding over in time,” Engel said. “Nick sent in a good ball to me, I just turned and looked up, saw back post and tried to hit it to the corner. Luckily it went there.”
Tar Heels head coach Carlos Somoano expressed admiration for Monmouth’s tenacity.
“That’s a good team right there,” Somoano said about his New Jersey opponent. “They’re tough as nails, and they had it on lockdown in the back. They had a lot of guys behind the ball.”
“Obviously, they didn’t play the most assertive game,” Somoano continued. “They were clearly coming out to venture a ball here or there, take a corner kick or a goal kick or a free kick or some loose ball and try to counter us. It was really obvious, and it’s a common tactic in soccer. That happens all the time, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But, we took a different approach, and our approach worked tonight.”
UNC concludes the Carolina Nike Classic this Sunday at 7 p.m. when it hosts No. 13 Coastal Carolina, which opened its own season Friday with a 1-0 win over No. 17 Wake Forest.
The No. 4 ranked Tar Heels opens its 2013 season this weekend when it hosts the Carolina Nike Classic at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill. Carolina faces Monmouth on Friday at 7:30 p.m., then No. 13 Coastal Carolina on Sunday at 7 p.m.
North Carolina has finished in the Top 5 of the National Soccer Coaches poll for five consecutive years. And after the departure of 22-year head coach Elmar Bolowich following the 2010 season, all successor Carlos Somoano has done is win the 2011 NCAA College Cup—becoming only the second men’s soccer coach in NCAA history to win a national title in his first season—and compile a 37-6-6 record over two seasons as a gaffer after spending 15 years as an assistant at Virginia Commonwealth and UNC.
In addition to multiple All-America honorees, UNC boasts the last two ACC Freshman of the Year in Mike Lopez (2011) and Danny Garcia (2012). Moreover, eight players from Somoano’s 2011 and 2012 squads have made the jump to Major League Soccer or Europe.
However, the bittersweet smell of the Tar Heels’ success—and the state of soccer player development in this country—can first be found in the fact that neither Lopez nor Garcia remain Tar Heels. Indeed, the 2013 campaign sets up as another year for North Carolina to rebuild … or reload?
Gone from the squad that appeared during the loss to Indiana last November in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament are seniors Jordan Gafa, Martin Murphy, Cameron Brown and goalkeeper Scott Goodwin, along with Lopez, who left school early after being taken in the MLS SuperDraft. However, three other losses are more unexpected and equally detrimental.
According to Somoano, forwards Andy Craven and Rob Lovejoy are likely lost for the 2013 season due to injuries.
“Andy Craven has an extra bone in his foot that chipped off, so it’s going to have to be take out,” Somoano says. “Robbie Lovejoy tore his groin a while back, but it hasn’t healed and he’s probably going to have surgery.”
Craven was the Tar Heels’ leading goal scorer last year with six goals (along with five assists) over 22 games. Lovejoy, who contributed seven goals during the 2011 national championship campaign, also missed the first half of the 2012 season due to injury. However, he returned to net five goals in just 11 matches. Somoano says both players will be eligible to play next year as redshirt seniors.
Meanwhile, Garcia was slated to return for his sophomore season after a freshman debut that included four goals and a team-high six assists. However, Somoano says he began to suspect that Garcia might not return to school after he made the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team roster for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Garcia didn’t enroll for UNC’s Spring semester, although he did travel with Carolina to Brazil in May for its quadrennial international trip allowed by the NCAA.
However, in mid-June Garcia signed a Homegrown contract with FC Dallas of MLS, ending his college career.
As a result, the triumvirate that was to spearhead the Tar Heels’ attack has vanished before the opening match.
“Our top seven goal scorers from last year are gone,” Somoano adds. “Our leading returning goal scorer had one [in 2012]. So I guess that leaves you with some offensive questions.”
Carolina’s revamped front line will instead feature Cary native Cooper Vandermaas-Peeler, senior Josh Rice and junior transfer Tyler Engel, a star newcomer who led Southern Methodist University in goals and assists last year. Other hopeful contributors at forward include sophomore Nico Rittmeyer and freshman Marco Sunol, a Greensboro native who has had a very good preseason, according to Somoano.
Confidence grows toward the middle of the formation. Sophomores Alex Olofson and Raby George will team with freshman Omar Holness in the midfield, which Somoano contends in the team’s strongest line right now. Indeed, Holness, a key contributor to the Jamaican youth national setup, looks poised to assume the midfield mantle of Garcia, Lopez and Enzo Martinez.
Carolina led the nation in shutouts last year, and a key reason was Goodwin, who graduated as the program’s all-time career saves leader. Somoano says the competition for Goodwin’s replacement at goalkeeper has boiled down to junior Brendan Moore and sophomore Sam Euler.
Nevertheless, UNC’s defense returns the most experience and stability. Buoying the back line is team captain and All-American candidate Boyd Okwuonu, who enters his junior season as one of 34 players on the Hermann Trophy watch list. Joining returning starters Jonathan Campbell and Jordan McCrary will likely be redshirt freshman Nick Williams, who looks to replace Jordan Gafa at right back.
Either way, the compressed men’s soccer schedule—which packs 17 regular season matches in just over two months—doesn’t afford much opportunity for acclamation or experimentation.
“You have to be sharp about picking what you think it right for your group, sticking with it and getting better at it,” Somoano asserts. “We’ll drive ourselves crazy if we keep trying different things, and we’ll probably end up getting nowhere.”
Most college programs would clamour for UNC’s upheaval woes if coupled with its perennial infusion of new talent. However, Somoano says this aspect of his team’s success becomes wearying.
“The year we won the [national] championship in 2011 we had seven new starters,” Somoano remembers. “Then last year we had six new starters. This year, we have six new starters [after injuries]. I have no problem with that, but to be honest, I don’t want to do that every single year.
“Is this team capable? Absolutely. But there’s also a lot of questions to be answered. Which is the fun part.”
Sure, but do you have a College Cup quality team?
“To be determined,” Somoano says with a smile.
The opening weekend of the season is right now, and it should be a very interesting one for the Triangle’s Division I teams.
It all starts tonight at 6, when UNC (8-4 last season) visits No. 6 South Carolina (11-2) in an ESPN game at Williams-Brice Stadium. It’s a chance for the Tar Heels to show whether or not they should be in the nation’s Top 25, and a golden opportunity to shock the nation with an early-season upset.
The other two games will be on Saturday. N.C. State (7-6) will take on Louisiana Tech (9-3) at 12:30 at Carter-Finley Stadium in the first game for new Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren.
Then at 4 will come the third edition of the Bull City Gridiron Classic at Wallace Wade Stadium, with Duke (6-7 after its first bowl trip in 18 years) hosting cross-town rival N.C. Central (6-5) under new Eagle interim head coach Dwayne Foster.
Home games against Tennessee, archrivals Duke and N.C. State, and Maryland’s final visit to Carmichael Arena as an ACC member highlight the 2013-14 UNC women’s basketball schedule released today.
The schedule opens at home Nov. 8 against Air Force. The Tar Heels will host Nebraska in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, while new members Pittsburgh and Syracuse as well as Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech will visit for conference games.
The other non-conference home games are against Coastal Carolina, Coppin State, Charleston Southern and High Point.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Talk about a must-win situation.
The Carolina Mudcats are facing one in their final regular-season home game, which will be their final home game of the season if they don’t work a miracle.
The Mudcats are in third place in the Carolina League’s Southern Division, five games behind the first-place Salem Red Sox who visit tonight for the finale of their three-game series. Both teams have eight games left in the season.
Salem has won the first two, but more importantly eight of its last 10 games while the Mudcats are 3-7 over the same span. So if Carolina wants to go from the worst team in baseball in the first half to a spot in the Mills Cup Playoffs, the Mudcats have got to get cracking. Now.
Shawn Morimando (8-12, 3.41) will take on the Red Sox’ Mike Augliera (8-6, 4.40) in a battle of lefties.
Tonight Salem puts what is likely the penultimate nail in the coffin, winning 6-4 in 12 innings.
Saturday evening in Cary, the RailHawks ground out a workmanlike 1-0 victory over Minnesota United FC. That now makes eight wins and one draw for Carolina out of nine league home matches. In addition, the RailHawks won all three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup ties played at WakeMed Park, including two victories over Major League Soccer competitors.
Various reasons can account for the RailHawks’ home nest success. Carolina is a talented team that has remained at or near the top of the NASL table all year. But thus far, it also hasn’t snagged a single road win, something you’d expect an overwhelmingly great team to do. Credit also goes to the home atmosphere and supporters, including the 5,201 partisans who came out Saturday night. But, other NASL teams draw larger attendances and still lose the occasional home match.
Others, including RailHawks manager Colin Clarke, observe that WakeMed Soccer Park boasts one of the longest pitches in the league. A field with such length suits a team like Carolina that is built for speed and also likes to play wide on attack.
The truth probably rests in all these factors and more. Regardless, Carolina’s home success has become a storyline for fans and opponents alike.
“This is a tough one for us,” said Minnesota United manager Manny Lagos after Saturday’s loss. “We know this is a tough place to play; Carolina hasn’t lost at home in a long time. We were hoping to break that, and unfortunately we couldn’t do that.”
Although the RailHawks’ lineup against Minnesota was filled with regulars, the team was playing without a couple of key contributors. Team captain Austin da Luz was suspended after being sent off last week against the New York Cosmos, and Enzo Martinez was out with a groin injury. However, Carolina’s bench included a couple of new faces in Kenney Walker and Bryan Gaul, both acquired this week on loan from the LA Galaxy. Walker came on as a second-half substitute and contributed 20 uneventful minutes.
Carolina came out the more confident side at the outset of the match, holding 59 percent of possession and outshooting Minnesota 11-4 in the first half. But, the RailHawks’ goal conversion remained wanting. An apparent Zack Schilawski score in the 19th minute was disallowed for offsides. Carolina had three short-range chances in the 29th minute, but two were blocked and Ty Shipalane’s capper sailed high.
Minnesota’s best first-half chance came in the 27th minute, when a lax Julius James pass in the backfield was intercepted by Pablo Campos, who took the clear path to goal. However, RailHawks goalkeeper rushed out to close down and dispossess the Brazilian striker to stave off the threat.
“Zack got the ball in the middle, picking it up on the break,” Shriver said. “He put Cesar through down the side. I was just trying to get in the box and give [Cesar] an option. He was able to pick his head up and whipped a great ball in. For me, it was just making sure I hit the target.”
It’s heady times for Shriver, who not only leads the league in goals but was handed the captain’s armband in da Luz’s absence. While Shriver says this is the first time in his career he’s ever served as team captain, “it’s [da Luz’s] armband; he’ll have it back next week.”
“He deserved the armband tonight,” Clarke gushed. “The first thing you need to remember with Brian is he works very hard, not only on the field but a lot of what supporters don’t see. He brings it every single day in training. He scores goals in training, his habits are good, his professionalism is very good. He works tirelessly and unselfishly for everybody on the team. And to top it all off he scores goals.”
Still, Minnesota evened out possession during the second stanza and generated a few scoring chances. Their most promising came in the 76th minute, when a diving Fitzgerald saved a 22-yard curling free kick by Kevin Venegas. By game’s end, the offensive-minded RailHawks were eschewing clear attacking lanes and instead choosing to rely on their suddenly sturdy defense.
Indeed, this was one of Carolina’s best team defense efforts in recent memory. James and Paul Hamilton were stout in the back, midfielders Nick Millington and Breiner Ortiz constantly stymied Minnesota’s build-ups, and the rest of the RailHawks buzzed around looking to make mischief. When right back Jordan Graye went down with a second-half injury, center back Kevin Rutkiewicz ably filled-in for him. Last but certainly not least, Fitzgerald dove, punched and leapt his way to a third consecutive home clean sheet.
“Colin [Clarke] did a great job at the beginning of the season to get a bunch of guys that really didn’t play together to gel,” said James. “Now that we’ve had more time together, the gel is coming.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota continues their own midseason makeover. During the July break, the team traded away tempestuous striker Etienne Barbara to Tampa Bay for Mike Ambersley, and it swapped midfielder Bryan Arguez to Carolina for Floyd Franks. Both Ambersley and Franks came on as second-half substitutes on Saturday.
“It’s a new season and it’s early, and we’re still finding our feet with the new guys and personalities,” Lagos said. “We are in this point where we have to continue to find our culture to be successful, and we’re not quite there yet. I think that consistency showed a little bit on the field tonight. But, I think we’re encouraged by the moves we made and very encouraged by where the locker room is heading.”
The RailHawks are now three points ahead of the second-place New York Cosmos atop the NASL Fall Season standings. However, after opening the fall with three out of four matches at home, Carolina now hits the road for two straight weeks, beginning with a trip to Florida to face the Fort Lauderdale Strikers next Friday.
“We will win a game on the road, I promise,” James proclaimed. “It will happen. Chemistry is coming together. We know what we need to do, we’re hungry, and we got a smack on the face by not winning the [spring] championship. So we’re a hungry team now, we have a monkey on our back, and we want to win.”
• Earlier this week, midfielder Ciaran O'Brien requested and was granted a release from his RailHawks contract to pursue other options elsewhere, according to club officials.
Last year, a promising start to Shriver’s RailHawks debut—including a four-goal turkey shoot against PSA Elite in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup—was eventually stymied by a rash of injuries that hampered his on-field production. Ultimately, Shriver finished the 2012 season with five league goals, far behind the team-leading 15 netted by Nick Zimmerman.
When the RailHawks faces Minnesota United FC this Saturday at 7 p.m., a revived Shriver will take the WakeMed Soccer Park pitch. Shriver leads the NASL this year with 11 goals in just 14 matches, an average of 0.78 goals per game. That average is higher than both Etienne Barbara’s RailHawks single-season record in 2011 (20 goals in 29 matches, 0.69 gpg) and Pablo Campos’ NASL scoring record in 2012 (21 goals in 30 matches, 0.7 gpg).
Campos and Barbara, the dynamic scoring duo for the RailHawks in 2011, reunited in Minnesota for the 2013 Spring Season. However, Barbara’s contentious, disappointing stay there ended earlier this month when he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Meanwhile, Campos has managed six goals this season, fourth-most in the league but a far cry from last year’s record-setting output as a member of the San Antonio Scorpions.
Meanwhile, the 26-year-old Shriver continues to reap the benefits of renewed health and formations that have shifted the traditional midfielder off the wings and into a forward position. Moreover, with crafty wingers like Ty Shipalane, Austin da Luz, Cesar Elizondo and Enzo Martinez drawing defenders out wide, Shriver has been left to roam in open spaces and utilize his deft touch to convert services into scores—only three of Shriver’s goals have been unassisted.
Indeed, Minnesota United has already acutely felt Shriver’s sting this year. When Minnesota last visited Cary on June 22, Shriver dashed the visitor’s fleeting Spring Season title hopes with two goals in the final five minutes to give Carolina a 3-2 victory. Coincidentally, the third RailHawks goal that evening was scored by Floyd Franks, who was traded to Minnesota last month and will make his return to Carolina this Saturday as a member of the opposition.
With a dearth of pure ball strikers to choose from, it appears the RailHawks’ fortunes this Saturday and beyond will continue to rest on Shriver’s bountiful boot.
Other RailHawks notes:
• As previously reported via Twitter, Bryan Arguez—the midfielder Minnesota sent to Carolina in the recent trade for Floyd Franks—was mutually released from his RailHawks contract last week for what club officials would only categorize as “personal reasons.” No further details are available at this time.
• On Thursday, Carolina officially acquired midfielder Kenney Walker and defender Bryan Gaul on loan from the LA Galaxy. Oddly, both Walker and Gaul were just loaned to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers four weeks ago, only to be recalled by the Galaxy this week and re-loaned to the RailHawks. Both Gaul and Walker have recent history at WakeMed Soccer Park with the Galaxy, Gaul during their 2012 U.S. Open Cup loss to the RailHawks and Walker as part of this year’s Open Cup loss to Carolina.
Arrested on Monday, suspended on Tuesday, fired on Thursday. That was the fate of Henry Frazier III, coach of North Carolina Central University (NCCU).
Arrested on Monday, practicing on Thursday. That's the status of Hud Mellencamp, walk-on sophomore cornerback for the Duke Blue Devils.
The college football season kicks off next weekend, in Durham and elsewhere. In the Bull City, the unheralded NCCU Eagles will travel across town to Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium to face the Blue Devils.
It likely won't be much of a contest. Last season, a so-so Duke team beat NCCU 54-17 en route to a 6-6 record and a season-ending loss in the Belk Bowl. NCCU fared somewhat better in its season at 6-5, its first winning season since 2007.
With 40 lettermen returning, hopes were high for this, the third season under the leadership of head coach Henry Frazier. But now, nine days before the meeting with Duke, NCCU has been thrown into disarray.
NCCU officials announced the firing of Frazier following his arrest Monday for violating the terms of a domestic protection order. The incident follows his arrest in May 2012 for allegedly assaulting his wife in their Morrisville home. Frazier was put on administrative leave, and reinstated three months later. Meanwhile, a domestic violence protection order was obtained, and in July 2013 it was renewed. Frazier's arrest resulted from a violation of the order.
No allegation of violence was made in the Monday complaint, and Frazier, through his attorney, insisted it was a misunderstanding.
But it was enough to exhaust the patience of NCCU.
At a 10-minute press conference this afternoon, NCCU athletic director Ingrid Wicker-McCree announced that after initially suspending him, school officials reviewed his contract and concluded that there were grounds for immediate termination.
"The focus of our athletics department," Wicker-McCree said, "includes academic success, competitive success, institutional control and student-athlete well-being.
"Our primary commitment will always be to our student-athletes, our programs and our institutions."
Assistant coach Dwayne Foster was named interim head coach.
Meanwhile, across town, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe found himself answering questions about sophomore walk-on Hud Mellencamp, who has been cleared to practice with the team despite facing felony battery charges stemming from a fight he was involved in last month.
The Associated Press:
Duke coach David Cutcliffe says walk-on Hud Mellencamp will continue to practice with the football team while he deals with felony battery charges in Indiana.
Cutcliffe said Thursday the son of rocker John Mellencamp will remain active in practice and "we'll let the legal due process occur."
According to the charges, Mellencamp, his younger brother, Speck, and a third man are accused of beating a man at a party in Bloomington, Ind. on July 29. The elder Mellencamp turned himself in Monday (brother Speck did so last Friday).
Mellencamp apparently has little football experience, but is an expert boxer, winning two Golden Gloves titles in Indiana, along with a Junior Olympics state title.
Mellencamp is not a scholarship athlete but a walk-on. He may yet face sanctioning by the university. Presumably he's being treated the same as other students who return to campus having been arrested for smashing someone's face over the summer. (According to Duke's Student Affairs website, "The university reserves the right to respond to any report of alleged misconduct on or off campus.")
There's no direct correlation between the case of a 45-year-old man with a prior arrest for assault and a 19-year-old student with an arrest for battery, of course—none except for football, Durham and male aggression.
The Eagles, now led by Coach Foster, kick off their season at Wallace Wade Aug. 31, at 4 p.m. Hud Mellencamp, No. 17, "could contribute on special teams," according to the Duke media guide.
In the end, the club from New York, New York left Cary, NC with little town blues, suffering a 3-0 defeat from the RailHawks. It’s the first loss this season by a Cosmos franchise trying to make a brand new start of it; it’s the first competitive loss by a New York Cosmos team since September 15, 1984.
The unexpected star of this show, however, was referee Mark Kadlecik. Like a singer loosening up his pipes, Kadlecik set the tone just two minutes into the match when he demonstrably admonished RailHawks manager Colin Clarke for dissent. By the time the first half was completed, Kadlecik had shown seven yellow cards and sent off two players, New York’s Joseph Nane in the 44th minute and Carolina’s Austin da Luz in the 45th.
The second booking of da Luz, the RailHawks’ team captain, was particularly galling as it came during stoppage time after a hard challenge committed in the Cosmos’ backfield with Carolina holding a two-goal lead and a man advantage.
“There’s no excuse,” Clarke said. “You've got to be smart. We’re up a man with two minutes to go to halftime. Go down to the other side of the field, just get out of the way, don’t put yourself in that position. Do not give the referee any opportunity to pull out his red card.”
Meanwhile, Carolina’s two-goal lead was initiated in the 8th minute. Ty Shipalane, returning to the RailHawks’ starting lineup for the first time since June 16, keyed a break by driving through the Cosmos’ defense before playing a nicely weighted through ball ahead to Zack Schilawski. Recovering from a heavy touch, Schilawski then centered the ball to Brian Shriver, who converted the put-away.
Shriver struck again in the 28th minute, intercepting a wayward Cosmos back pass before rounding New York goalkeeper Kyle Reynish and depositing into the open goal for a 2-0 advantage the RailHawks took into halftime.
After intermission, the match settled into a back-and-forth dance, a surprising turn since games between teams down to 10 men each tend to become wide open affairs. However, the players appeared gun shy from the deluge of fouls and bookings.
The Cosmos squandered a number of promising opportunities, including a 20-yard free kick that Marcos Senna sailed over goal. The lone second-half score occurred after Cosmos defender Hunter Gorskie tripped Cesar Elizondo in the box, drawing a penalty. Second-half sub Brian Ackley hammered home the PK to account for the final score … but not before Kadlecik sent New York’s Sebastian Guenzatti off a few minutes later with a straight red card for a reckless tackle that left Elizondo (temporarily) twitching on the turf like Apollo Creed after getting knocked out by Ivan Drago. And for good measure, the referee also dismissed Cosmos’ assistant coach Alecko Eskandarian for his remonstrance.
Cosmos manager Giovanni Savarese declined to comment on the officiating, but Clarke had no such qualms.
“It was disappointing that [the referee] had to have such a factor on the game, because it wasn’t that type of game," Clarke observed. "He needed to do a better job of reffing.”
The match was a bit of role reversal for the RailHawks, which has made a habit this year of dominating games statistically without converting their copious chances into goals. Tonight, the Cosmos held 59 percent possession, outshot Carolina 11-5, and earned 10 corner kicks to zero for the RailHawks.
However, it was Carolina that netted three goals and goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald who earned his second consecutive home clean sheet. Shriver’s brace gives him a league-leading 11 goals this year.
“We took our chances, something that we’ve talked about from the Spring season to this season,” Clarke said. “We were creating them but not taking them, and that probably cost us the Spring Season title. But tonight, there can be no arguments. We knew we’d create chances, and we got the first goal, which is always big.”
“It was a game in which the team that knew how to capitalize on opportunities ended up winning,” Savarese said. “There were little situations that allowed the game to change, and unfortunately our two mistakes put us in difficulty in the first half.”
The win keeps the RailHawks as A-number-one, top of the list in the NASL Fall Season standings. In the meantime, start spreading the news: Carolina returns to action next Saturday, August 24 when it hosts Minnesota United FC.