The RailHawks faced a split Vancouver squad that nevertheless included Camilo, last season’s points leader, touted rookie Erik Hurtado and English Premier League veteran Nigel Reo-Coker, who played the opening half to make his Whitecaps debut. Also seeing time for former RailHawks manager Martin Rennie were ex-RailHawks Brad Knighton, Matt Watson and Marques Davidson.
The Whitecaps came out the aggressors for the 3,253 partisans christening the newly expanded WakeMed Soccer Park. After a couple of early saves by RailHawks’ goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald, a Floyd Franks giveaway in the backfield led to Whitecaps’ forward Corey Hertzog—who scored 17 goals last year for the Wilmington Hammerheads—being taken down from behind in the box by Ciaran O’Brien in the 8th minute. Camilo stepped to the spot and hammered home his PK for the early lead.
But amid the prime rib and creamed spinach, there were morsels of actual business spoon-fed from the dais. Joining Carolina President Curt Johnson and Head Coach Colin Clarke were two former RailHawks and current Whitecaps, Brad Knighton and the always-affable Matt Watson. Vancouver faces the Chicago Fire in another friendly Saturday evening in Charleston, S.C. So, the Whitecaps will again send a split squad to face the RailHawks, as was the case last year.
Johnson officially announced the upcoming March 20 international friendly between the RailHawks and UNAM Pumas at WakeMed Soccer Park. He also revealed a new Adidas blue RailHawks kit that will be worn during Sunday’s friendly.
Graye is the face most familiar to Triangle soccer fans. After featuring for the North Carolina Tar Heels from 2005-2009, Graye spent two season in Major League Soccer, with DC United in 2010 and the Houston Dynamo in 2011. Last season, Graye trailed with Carolina and took the field for the RailHawks during their preseason friendly against the Vancouver Whitecaps. However, Graye did return to the RailHawks until September, when he was signed for the season’s stretch run. Graye made an immediate impact, generating three productive appearances at right back until an injury suffered during the opening leg of the NASL playoffs semifinals against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Graye shores up a right back position that was filled last season primarily by aging veterans and converted midfielders.
The 25-year-old O’Brien arrives in Cary after two seasons with the Atlanta Silverbacks, where he netted two goals and produced four assists in 2012. He was named NASL Offensive Player of the Week in July 2011 and June 2012. O’Brien originally turned pro out of college in 2008, when he signed a Generation adidas contract with MLS and was the fifth overall pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. However, he appeared in only one MLS game.
After three seasons as a reserve goalkeeper for the New England Revolution, the 6 ft. 2 in., 25-year-old Murray comes to Carolina after being released by the Revs last December. The signing of Murray and the return of Akira Fitzgerald calls into doubt the return of Ray Burse, the RailHawks’ starting goalkeeper in 2012.
The RailHawks open their 2013 preseason with the 5th Annual Community Shield Match on Sunday, February 24 at WakeMed Soccer Park against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Officially labeled Club Universidad Nacional A.C. but known more commonly as Pumas, the first-division Mexican side is one of the most popular clubs in their country, having won seven Primera División championships and four international titles, including three CONCACAF Champions’ Cups. The RailHawks’ friendly will take place just before the start of the FIFA international break running March 22-26.
This will be the first international friendly the RailHawks has played since 2010. However, the club has previously hosted a number of high-profile, well-attended international friendlies, including venerable Mexican sides Cruz Azul in 2007 (attended by a then RailHawks-record 7,339), C.F. Monterrey in 2008 and Estudiantes Tecos in 2009. Also in 2009, Honduran side C.D. Olimpia and the Panama National Team visited WakeMed Park. In 2010, Carolina hosted the Mexican U-21 National Team as well as Pumas Morelos of the Mexican second division.
No official announcement or ticket information for the Pumas friendly has yet been released.
This Sunday, Feb. 24, the RailHawks hosts their first friendly of the 2013 season against the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park. For tickets, visit the RailHawks’ box office or website.
The two most significant developments are the arrival of the revamped New York Cosmos and the absence of the Puerto Rico Islanders. The Cosmos opens play on August 3 against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at James M. Shuart Stadium, on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Meanwhile contrary to previous public pronouncements, the Puerto Rico Islanders will not participate in the 2013 NASL season at all. When the Spring Season schedule was released in December, the Islanders promulgated a statement stating it would return for the 2013 Fall Season this August. However, league officials privately expressed skepticism that would happen, and today’s schedule release makes that suspicion official.
This afternoon, the Islanders released a statement relaying their intent to return to the NASL for the 2014 season.
The Cosmos’ lone 2013 visit to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. takes place on Saturday, August 17 when they face the Carolina RailHawks. The RailHawks travel to New York for the rematch on Saturday, October 12.
Click here to read today’s press release.
“Yes,” Johnson texted back. “That works well for Bill’s schedule.”
For the past 21 years, Bill’s schedule has taken him to over 50 countries by his estimation, working in industries ranging from professional football to sports management to food and beverage services. After being tapped last November to replace outgoing NASL Commissioner David Downs, Peterson embarked on a listening tour that’s now covered every present and imminent NASL market save Ottawa, where he plans to visit soon. On the day we met, he was finishing a 24-hour swing through Cary, N.C. This week brought a trip to the NASL AGM in Indianapolis, a city unveiled as home to the league’s newest expansion franchise.
The 48-year-old executive has bounced from port to port, coast to coast, and continent to continent. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m not wired to sit in one place for 10 or 20 years and steward something,” Peterson says. “I want to build it and grow it. I want to see movement.”
The 31-year-old Addlery has been one of the most potent scorers in Division 2 soccer since 2008, when he netted five goals for the Vancouver Whitecaps, then a member of USL-1. Addlery signed with the Puerto Rico Islanders in 2009 and played his first three seasons there for Colin Clarke, now the manager of the RailHawks. Over his four total seasons Puerto Rico, Addlery scored nearly 50 goals in all competitions, including domestic league and cup play as well as the CONCACAF Champions League. Addlery is the career scoring leader in Islanders' history.
Addlery also earned six caps for the Jamaican national team from 2009-2010.
“Nick is a proven striker and has been one of the top players in the league,” said RailHawks manager Colin Clarke in a statement. “He will be a great addition to our attack and be a leader on and off the field. Nick was a consistent presence in the community in Puerto Rico and I know he will be heavily involved in the Triangle community.”
After beginning his professional career in Trinidad and Tobago, Clarke signed Addlerly in 2007 to play for the Virginia Beach Mariners. However, that club folded prior to the beginning of the season. After a trial, Addlery was signed by D.C. United, where he made 11 appearance and scored one goal for a team that won Major League Soccer's Supporters Shield.
Addlery's departure extends an exodus from the Islanders, which announced last month that it would not compete in the NASL's Spring Season and instead attempt to rejoin the league for the Fall Season in August. Over the past several weeks, Jay Needham and David Foley signed with other NASL clubs while Jonathan Faña began play with Alianza F.C. in El Salvador.
Addlery joins a RailHawks' offense that, thus far, includes returnees Zack Schilawski, Brian Shriver, Nick Zimmerman, Ty Shipalane and Brian Ackley.
The RailHawks opens their 2013 campaign on April 6 on the road against the defending NASL champion Tampa Bay Rowdies, thus avoiding having to market a home match during NCAA Final Four weekend. Carolina’s first game at WakeMed Soccer Park will be the following Saturday, April 13 when it hosts the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
The RailHawks will not host an Independence Day holiday game for the first time since 2010. However, the club will put on their perennial fireworks celebration in conjunction with the Saturday, June 29 home match against the Atlanta Silverbacks. The RailHawk are also the only league team with no game scheduled over Memorial Day weekend in May.
Other notable RailHawks matches include the May 4 visit to the Minnesota Stars, which will take place in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The San Antonio Scorpions visit WakeMed Park on May 11, the day before Mother’s Day (marketing tie-in alert!). Overall, every RailHawks home game over the Spring Season is scheduled on a Saturday night. However, participation in the 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has the potential to fill several weekdays during May and June.
During the Spring Season, each NASL club faces every other league member twice in a home-and-away set. The club that finishes with the most accumulated points wins the Spring Championship and the right to host the winner of the ensuing Fall Season for the one-game NASL Soccer Bowl championship in mid-November.
The Puerto Rico Islanders and expansion New York Cosmos previously announced that they will not compete during the Spring Season. Both clubs say they will initiate play at the beginning of the 2013 Fall Season. However, while league sources are confident that the Cosmos will be ready to kick off at that time, the future of the Islanders remains hazy. Just this week, former Islanders defender Jay Needham signed with the Rowdies, the first of undoubtedly more Islanders who will look to join other clubs.
In addition, the RailHawks announced that they will host the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer on Sunday, February 24 in the 5th Annual Hilton Garden Inn Durham Southpoint Community Shield Match. Vancouver, which are managed by former RailHawks gaffer Martin Rennie, also faced Carolina for last year’s Community Shield match, which the RailHawks won on a penalty kick shootout. In addition to Rennie, the Vancouver roster is expected to include such other ex-RailHawks as goalkeeper Brad Knighton, and midfielders Matt Watson and Jun Marques Davidson.
The Whitecaps play another preseason exhibition the preceding day when they take on the Chicago Fire in Charleston, S.C. In addition, Vancouver opens their MLS regular season campaign the following Saturday. The same scheduling logjam took place last season as well, causing Vancouver to send a split squad to Cary to take on the RailHawks.
“We don’t have a choice,” Vaught responded. “We have to sell them.”
This wholesale roster replenishment stands in marked contrast to a year ago, when the RailHawks had only two players under contract when Colin Clarke was announced as the team’s new manager following the departure of Martin Rennie. Indeed, team president Curt Johnson said at the time that a new emphasis in player personnel going forward would be signing more players to contracts that include club options for additional seasons, in contrast to the closed, short-term contracts often employed during Rennie’s tenure at Carolina.
“Being able to bring back a core group of the players is an important piece for our plans in 2013,” Clarke said through a team statement. “With the new league format, having stability and consistency in the roster will give us the opportunity to get off to a fast start.”
Exercising club options does not preclude any player from exploring other options, including Zimmerman, Franks, Shipalane and da Luz, who have all previously spent time in MLS. However, the option does allow Carolina the right to seek some form of compensation in exchange for relinquishing a player’s 2013 contractual rights. Moreover, exercising a club option does not necessarily guarantee that the player will end up being on the 2013 roster: one of the two players on the RailHawks’ roster when Clarke was hired was defender Cory Miller, who was released during training camp.
Clarke also said that the team was still working to resign other key members of last year’s squad. Team officials would not disclose who they were still attempting to resign, nor which player options, if any, the club declined to exercise.