Sports
INDY Week's sports blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on | Add on  

NASL

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Subtraction by addition: Carolina RailHawks draw 1-1 with Fort Lauderdale, but lose ground in playoff race

Posted by on Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 2:19 AM

Nacho Novo (left) battles with the Fort Lauderdale's Shawn Chin during the Carolina RailHawks' 1-1 draw with the Strikers Saturday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. - PHOTO BY ROB KINNAN / COURTESY OF CAROLINA RAILHAWK
  • Photo by Rob Kinnan / Courtesy of Carolina RailHawk
  • Nacho Novo (left) battles with the Fort Lauderdale's Shawn Chin during the Carolina RailHawks' 1-1 draw with the Strikers Saturday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC.
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—Throughout the 2014 regular season (heck, even last year, too), the Carolina RailHawks have displayed an uncanny ability to play counter to their given situation.

Anytime the RailHawks appear on the verge of falling out of a possible berth in the NASL’s four-team postseason tournament, the team will reel off two or three unexpected victories to again grab the reins of their destiny. Then, just as promptly, Carolina will squander their reacquired fortunes, placing themselves back on the precipice of heartbreak.

The fickle foot of fate once again dealt a blow to the RailHawks Saturday night with their 1-1 draw with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. A Carolina win on home ground at WakeMed Soccer Park would have catapulted it back into fourth place in the overall NASL standings with only two games left in the regular season.

Instead, Saturday’s tie keeps the RailHawks two points behind the Strikers and tied with FC Edmonton for the fifth position. Moreover, Carolina will likely lose any tiebreaker since it trails both Fort Lauderdale and FC Edmonton substantially in goal differential.

It’s an outcome RailHawks manager Colin Clarke and his team were acutely aware of approaching Saturday’s match with Fort Lauderdale, which already defeated Carolina 1-0 two weeks ago in South Florida.

“Overall, it was disappointing,” Clarke said about this weekend’s draw. “Before this night started, we had it in our control to succeed in what our goal was at the start of the season, which is get into the playoffs and have a chance to win a championship. It’s not over, but it’s now out of our control.”

Continue reading…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, September 26, 2014

Heavy Traffic: Carolina RailHawks in flux following sale of Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Posted by on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Aaron Davidson, President of Traffic Sports USA, and Swoops, the Carolina RailHawks' mascot (l-r) ... now closer than ever.
  • Aaron Davidson, President of Traffic Sports USA, and Swoops, the Carolina RailHawks' mascot (l-r) ... now closer than ever.
When the Fort Lauderdale Strikers announced last week that Traffic Sports USA was selling controlling interest in the North American Soccer League (NASL) club to a Brazilian investment group, chatter ensued about the effect this would have on various soccer entities. But besides the Strikers themselves, the group most affected by this sale is the Carolina RailHawks.

Carolina is now the last NASL team owned by Traffic Sports USA, the American arm of the Brazil-based sports management company that not only bankrolled a large portion of the NASL after its breakaway from the United Soccer Leagues (USL), but also once held controlling interest in three members clubs—the RailHawks, Strikers and Atlanta Silverbacks.

Traffic Sports USA reformed the RailHawks brand and assumed majority interest of the team after former owner Selby Wellman dissolved the club’s governing limited liability company in Dec. 2010. Since the RailHawks’ reformation under the Traffic Sports USA umbrella and the arrival of club president Curt Johnson, Carolina has enjoyed a resurgence on and off the field. Attendance has risen annually (although stagnant this year compared to 2013), and Carolina continues to post winning records and success in U.S. Open Cup competition.

Nevertheless, the RailHawks’ overall team budget and player payroll languishes in the bottom half of the league. Local fans have largely overlooked this inequity due to the RailHawks’ on-field success, but also because supporters remain grateful for Traffic’s rescue of the RailHawks franchise and realize that Traffic’s resources have been spread over several NASL teams and the league itself.

Now, however, Traffic’s lone majority interest in the RailHawks means those fans will contrast team expenditures to spendthrift owners in New York, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, San Antonio and now Fort Lauderdale. It’s a new reality Traffic Sports USA and the RailHawks are also cognizant of—last Friday, the same date the Strikers sale was officially announced, the RailHawks published a press release in which Aaron Davidson, President of Traffic Sports USA, is quoted as saying Traffic Sport USA is now “thrilled to focus our time, energy and resources on professional soccer in North Carolina.”

Davidson, who is also Chairman of the NASL Board of Governors, spoke further to INDY Week by telephone last Sunday evening. He says Traffic Sports USA is pleased that Carolina is now their sole NASL stake.

Continue reading…

  • Pin It
    “It doesn’t mean we’re going to be the highest spending team in the entire league. It means we’re going to be the smartest spenders.”

Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Deadline in US Soccer Pro League Standards emerges as motive for sale of NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Posted by on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 10:36 AM

nasl.jpg
Last week, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers announced the sale of the North American Soccer League (NASL) club from Traffic Sports USA to a trio of Brazilian investors: Paulo Cesso, Rafael Bertani, and Ricardo Geromel. The sale was trumpeted as an overdue boon for the sometimes star-crossed second-division South Florida franchise. The team currently ranks last in attendance for the 2014 NASL regular season and annually has one of the lowest budgets in the league, but it is also fighting for the fourth and final berth in The Championship, the NASL’s four-team postseason tournament.

The Strikers adopted the moniker of its NASL forerunner, which played from 1977-1983. But today’s iteration was originally founded nine years ago by Traffic Sports USA under the name Miami FC when the team was a member of the United Soccer Leagues (USL).

At the end of the 2013 regular season, Traffic Sports USA still held a majority stake in three NASL clubs: the Strikers, the Atlanta Silverbacks and the Carolina RailHawks. In Dec. 2013, Traffic Sports USA announced the sale of its interest in the Silverbacks. The sale of the Strikers means that Traffic Sports USA now holds a majority ownership stake only in the RailHawks.

Aaron Davidson, President of Traffic Sports USA and Chairman of the NASL Board of Governors, attended last Friday’s event announcing the sale of the Strikers. Davidson spoke further to INDY Week by telephone Sunday evening while awaiting a flight from Miami to Chile, where Traffic Sports holds commercial rights to next year’s Copa América.

Continue reading…

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Back Nine: Carolina RailHawks outlast New York Cosmos in 5-4 thriller

Posted by on Sun, Sep 21, 2014 at 1:49 AM

Devon Sandoval holds up the ball and holds off his New York Cosmos defender during the Carolina RailHawks 5-4 win Saturday evening in Cary, NC. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROLINA RAILHAWKS
  • Photo courtesy of Carolina RailHawks
  • Devon Sandoval holds up the ball and holds off his New York Cosmos defender during the Carolina RailHawks 5-4 win Saturday evening in Cary, NC.
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—When a time capsule is planted under the center circle of WakeMed Soccer Park to inform, a millennia hence, our planet of ape overlords or extraterrestrial invaders about the history of the Carolina RailHawks Football Club, the first artifact included must be a recording of the RailHawks’ 5-4 victory over the New York Cosmos Saturday evening in Cary, NC.

The game encapsulates every variance of RailHawks teams through the years. First, there was a stultifying lack of scoring, aided by sound defending, ineffective finishing, tentative possession and lots of long balls forward. After halftime was the blazing offensive onslaught, full of speed, space and shots resulting five goals over a 30-minute span. Finally, there was eye-poppingly poor late game defending, practically gifting the opponent back into a game to the tune of four goals (including an own goal) allowed over a 20-minute stretch.

That’s right—a combined nine goals scored in the second half between full-strength squads. Toss in autumnal weather, free thundersticks for the kids and postgame fireworks for the 5,593 in attendance, and, well, you’ve got a quintessential American pro soccer game.

Continue reading…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Something old, new and borrowed: Carolina RailHawks kick home blues with 3-1 win over San Antonio Scorpions

Posted by on Sun, Sep 14, 2014 at 12:52 AM

Enzo Martinez puts a licking on the San Antonio Scorpions during the Carolina RailHawks 3-1 win Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROLINA RAILHAWKS
  • Photo courtesy of Carolina RailHawks
  • Enzo Martinez puts a licking on the San Antonio Scorpions during the Carolina RailHawks 3-1 win Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—Facing the prospect of the first four-match home losing streak in club history, it was all boots on deck for the Carolina RailHawks. The long-awaited arrival of Nacho Novo—check. The short-term loan acquisition of a Major League Soccer striker in Devon Sandoval from Real Salt Lake—check. Prying Zack Schilawski away from his law school studies for a few hours—check.

Indeed, all three players saw action against the NASL-leading San Antonio Scorpions Saturday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. However, it was a different trio of RailHawks who scaled the scoring column to pace Carolina to a pivotal 3-1 victory over the Scorpions.

“It was a great results,” said RailHawks manager Colin Clarke. “We’ve had our troubles at home the last few games, But if we’re going to be successful this season we have to win our home games. I thought it was a great response tonight under a little bit of pressure.”

On cue, one of Carolina’s new additions sounded a new attacking tone less than a minute into the match. Out of the opening kickoff, a through ball was played forward to Sandoval, who started as the center striker. Sandoval blazed a trail through the Scorpions’ back line and delivered a cross through the box that ended up far post at the feet of Ty Shipalane. Shipalane’s shot impacted the side netting. However, Sandoval’s instant threat signaled a confidence that the RailHawks have been sorely lacking throughout the NASL fall campaign.

Continue reading…

  • Pin It
    The RailHawks basked in a result described using a word that hasn’t been heard much following the team’s recent home results: Fun.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Nacho Novo, Glasgow Rangers legend, signs with Carolina RailHawks

Posted by on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Nacho Novo poses with his new Carolina RailHawks jersey Thursday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. - NEIL MORRIS
  • Neil Morris
  • Nacho Novo poses with his new Carolina RailHawks jersey Thursday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC.
The Carolina RailHawks’ long-gestating rumor is now official: Nacho Novo, the lauded Spanish striker who spent seven seasons with Glasgow Rangers of the Scottish Premier League, has signed with the RailHawks of the North American Soccer League (NASL).

The 35-year-old Novo, who last played this spring for Carlisle United in England’s League One, traveled to North Carolina in June to trial with the RailHawks and also took in a few of the club’s matches.

Novo and the club agreed to contractual terms several weeks later. However, immigration entanglements delayed Novo joining the team until this week.

After arriving in North Carolina late Wednesday evening, a jet lagged Novo trained with his new teammates Thursday morning after passing a team physical. Afterwards, he spoke with INDY Week about what brought him to Cary, NC.

“The advantage I had was I came over here and saw the facilities and the city, and I felt relaxed,” Novo says. “The main thing for me is to feel relaxed and settled, where I come every day and enjoy training. At my age, I still enjoy football like when I was 12 years of age.”

Novo says the longest time he's previously spent in the United States was a month-long vacation in Orlando, Fla. Now, his contract with the RailHawks extends through the 2015 season.

Novo is arguably the most pedigreed player to ever join the RailHawks. During his time with Rangers from 2004-10, Novo scored 47 league goals, 25 of those in his first season with the club. During that initial season, Rangers won both the Scottish League Cup and Scottish Premier League, with Novo scoring the winning goal against Hibernian to clinch league title.

Continue reading…

  • Pin It
    Novo is a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame and played on the team that advanced to the 2008 UEFA Cup Final.

Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Train wrecked: Atlanta Silverbacks defeat anemic Carolina RailHawks 2-0 for third straight home loss

Posted by on Sun, Aug 31, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Atlanta's Ryan Roushandel and Carolina's Nick Zimmerman battle for a header while RailHawks Connor Tobin, Akira Fitzgerald and Kupono Low look on during the Silverbacks' 2-0 win over the RailHawks. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROLINA RAILHAWKS
  • Photo courtesy of Carolina RailHawks
  • Atlanta's Ryan Roushandel and Carolina's Nick Zimmerman battle for a header while RailHawks Connor Tobin, Akira Fitzgerald and Kupono Low look on during the Silverbacks' 2-0 win over the RailHawks.

WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—Colin Clarke said he didn’t recall a more lackluster home performance in his three seasons as manager of the Carolina RailHawks than their 2-0 loss to the Atlanta Silverbacks Saturday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park.

There are few, if any, who would disagree.

After earning their second straight road victory last week at Tampa Bay, the RailHawks were hoping to notch three points at home and solidify their fourth-place position in the North American Soccer League (NASL) yearly standings, good for the final berth in the year-end NASL Championship playoffs. Instead, the loss to Atlanta drops Carolina to sixth place in the overall table.

“This was a big game tonight,” Clarke said. “We talked a lot about it, we prepared for it and knew what we had to do. And we came up short on the night.”

Continue reading…

  • Pin It
    The win was the Silverbacks' first over the RailHawks in 11 visits to Cary, NC dating back to 2007.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Penalty-palooza: Carolina RailHawks clipped 3-2 by FC Edmonton for third home loss in fall season

Posted by on Sun, Aug 17, 2014 at 2:34 AM

Zack Schilawski celebrates his second RailHawks goal against FC Edmonton Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROLINA RAILHAWKS
  • Photo courtesy of Carolina RailHawks
  • Zack Schilawski celebrates his second RailHawks goal against FC Edmonton Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—For the second straight week, the Carolina RailHawks fell behind to an opponent at WakeMed Soccer Park. For the second straight week, the RailHawks and Zack Schilawski, the team’s leading scorer, clawed back to tie the match in the second half and appeared poised to grab a win. And for the second straight week, the RailHawks ended up losing the match anyway.

After grabbing an early lead that lasted through halftime, the RailHawks surrendered three second-half goals on their way to a 3-2 loss to FC Edmonton in front of 4,666 fans. The defeat is Carolina’s third in their last four home league games. The road win is only FC Edmonton’s second this year, the other one being at cellar-dwelling Indy Eleven during the NASL spring season. And this is FC Edmonton’s first win on the RailHawks’ home ground, having lost each of their previous six visits to Cary.

After surrendering four goals to the Tampa Bay Rowdies last week at home, the RailHawks returned goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald to the starting XI. Coincidentally, Fitzgerald hasn't played since Carolina’s 6-1 loss at FC Edmonton to end the spring season. Fitzgerald then injured his thumb in training and was replaced by Scott Goodwin during the RailHawks’ U.S. Open Cup run and the opening five games of the fall season.

However, Carolina was without defender Daniel Scott, who was suspended due to being sent off last week against Tampa Bay. Scott was replaced by Austen King, who hasn't played since committing his own red card offense against Indy Eleven last month. More on King in a moment.

Continue reading…

  • Pin It
    Zack Schilawski's brace isn't enough to overcome three second-half goals by FC Edmonton

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zack Schilawski of Carolina RailHawks to enter law school, possibly ending his pro soccer playing career

Posted by on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Zack Schilawski (and his avatar) celebrate his early goal against FC Dallas during their quarterfinal match in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in early July. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROLINA RAILHAWKS
  • Photo courtesy of Carolina RailHawks
  • Zack Schilawski (and his avatar) celebrate his early goal against FC Dallas during their quarterfinal match in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in early July.

Watching last weekend’s Carolina RailHawks game in Cary, you wouldn't know that Zack Schilawski might be nearing the end of his professional soccer playing career.

With Carolina down two goals to the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Schilawski led an early second-half charge, scoring one goal and assisting another. As the RailHawks again surrendered the lead late in the game, the Cary-born striker could be seen trying to fire up his teammates. And after the eventual loss, he stood at a podium in front of the media and obligingly answered their questions, but he visibly wore an agony of defeat that made you think nothing else in the world mattered to him.

But others things do matter to Schilawski, and they about to collide with soccer.

Schilawski will play for the RailHawks this Saturday, Aug. 16 at WakeMed Soccer Park against FC Edmonton. The following Wednesday, he enters law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Speaking to INDY Week, Schilawski says he began pondering this next phase in his life last off-season.

“I still love playing and still have a great time,” Schilawski says. “I still think I can help teams win games. But it gets to the point where you’re not sure if it’s really sustainable long-term to keep playing, especially in the off-season. The off-seasons can get hard, and this past off-season I just decided I’m not doing anything except working out, so I may as well take this time to study for the [LSAT], shoot some applications out there and see what kind of feedback I get.

“The test went well, the feedback from the applications went well, and I got some good offers that came in around April or so. I sat on it for a little bit, but in the end I just felt like I couldn't turn it down.”

Continue reading…

  • Pin It
    Schilawski plays for the RailHawks this Saturday, then begins law school next week. His playing status beyond that remains uncertain.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tampa Bay Rowdies grind out wet and wild 4-3 win over Carolina RailHawks

Posted by on Sun, Aug 10, 2014 at 1:46 AM

Lucky strike: Mkosana celebrates his go-ahead goal for the Tampa Bay Rowdies against the Carolina RailHawks Saturday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROLINA RAILHAWKS
  • Photo courtesy of Carolina RailHawks
  • Lucky strike: Mkosana celebrates his go-ahead goal for the Tampa Bay Rowdies against the Carolina RailHawks Saturday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC.
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—Coming off an improbable and important road win against the New York Cosmos last week, the Carolina RailHawks returned to the erstwhile comfortable confines of WakeMed Soccer Park Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

However, Carolina stumbled out of the starting gate, eventually falling 4-3 to the Rowdies in a wet and wild match. It is Tampa Bay’s first regular season win over the RailHawks in Cary since May 2010, during its pre-Rowdies days when the team was named FC Tampa Bay.

The RailHawks, once unbeatable at their home roost, have lately been anything but. Saturday’s loss is their third at home out of their last four games in all competitions. Indeed, this defeat stings even more than the loss to lowly Indy Eleven to open the NASL fall season, which at least carried the excuse of being the third match in a week and the second in four days for a fatigued Carolina squad.

The Rowdies loss, on the other hand, comes on the heels of the win at New York, Carolina’s first road victory this year. It comes with a full week’s rest. And it comes at the outset of a pivotal homestand that has the RailHawks playing five of their next seven matches at home.

Continue reading…

  • Pin It
    This was only the third time in club history the RailHawks allowed four goals in a regular season home match.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Calendar

Facebook Activity

Twitter Activity

Comments

Doesn't the same ownership group own both the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo? Seems like a double standard.

by Rob Swenson on Deadline in US Soccer Pro League Standards emerges as motive for sale of NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers (Sports)

Most Read

© 2014 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation