Carolina RailHawks Archive

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Elementary, my dear Watson: Northern Irish defender is lone Eddie to make NASL Best XI

FC Edmonton's Albert Watson, left, tries to get around Atlanta's Pedro Mendes.

FC Edmonton’s Albert Watson, left, tries to get around Atlanta’s Pedro Mendes.

FC Edmonton captain Albert Watson is the sole member of the Eddies to make the season-ending NASL Best XI.

Watson, who was one of two Eddies on the MVP ballot (the now-departed Chris Nurse was the other) got enough votes from the league’s eight head coaches, who select the season-ending all-star team.

Watson joins Shaun Saiko (2011) and Paul Hamilton (2012) as Eddies who made the NASL Best XI.

Watson was the backbone for a defence that allowed 26 goals in 26 games this season (though Watson missed a chunk of the spring season as he recovered from an MCL injury). He came to the club from Northern Irish side Linfield FC in 2013, and Eddies’ coach Colin Miller has repeatedly said that he feels Watson is the top central defender in the league.
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5

As Cosmos runs away with NASL fall season, the league’s format is put to the test

Cosmos star Marcos Senna PHOTO: TONY LEWIS

Cosmos star Marcos Senna
PHOTO: TONY LEWIS

I’ve seen the debate on this site. You see entire message-board debates devoted to it.

Should a North American soccer league have playoffs? Or should the format more reflect the league-winner-take-all format that’s common across Europe?

Well, we have as close as a test case as we are going to get in North America. And that’s in the North American Soccer League, where the winner of the spring and fall seasons meet each other in the Soccer Bowl. It’s not quite single table, but there’s no post-season outside of a championship game.

In mid-September, the NASL looked to have a dream on its hands. The top seven teams in an eight-team league were all within three points of each other. The league could boast that every game had meaning, that every game would impact the Soccer Bowl race.

But things have changed radically since then.

Sure, for most of the league, parity is still the key word. As we head into the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, the gap between seventh place and second place is three points. Four teams are tied for second place, with 14 points each.

Alas, the New York Cosmos have been red-hot; and, in a league where draws are the norm, the Cosmos has been able to put together a series of wins and distance itself from the pack. The gap between first and those four second-place teams is at seven points.

Seven points, with four games left on each team’s schedule.
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2

FCE’s Fordyce named NASL Player of the Week

Albert Watson (5) embraces countryman and teammate Daryl Fordyce after FCE scored the opener against Carolina. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Albert Watson (5) embraces countryman and teammate Daryl Fordyce after FCE scored the opener against Carolina. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Daryl Fordyce has been named the NASL Player of the Week.

FC Edmonton’s Northern Irish striker got both goals in the team’s 2-1 win over Carolina, Sunday. Fordyce nodded home the opener after fellow Northern Irishman Alberta Watson flicked on a long throw from Corey Hertzog.

Fordyce’s second goal was smashed just underneath the crossbar at Clarke Stadium, after right back Edson Edward made a terrific run up the wing and pushed a pass to the top of the box. Fordyce made a clever run to find a dead spot in the box, where there were no Carolina defenders to be found.
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4

Fordyce’s brace gives FCE its second win of the fall season

RailHawk Paul Hamilton, left, challenges FCE's Daryl Fordyce. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

RailHawk Paul Hamilton, left, challenges FCE’s Daryl Fordyce. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

FC Edmonton began the post-Shaun Saiko era with its second win of the fall season.

Daryl Fordyce scored twice, pacing the Eddies to a 2-1 win over the Carolina RailHawks. The big winners out of the weekend? The New York Cosmos. With Carolina’s loss, the gap between the Cosmos and the RailHawks (tied for second place) is now seven points.

With the fall season winner going to the Soccer Bowl and no playoff structure, with four games left the NASL’s final weeks is looking more and more like a lame-duck stretch run.

The RailHawks followed a familiar pattern: Unbeatable at home but strugglers on the road. The Eddies had all of the real first-half chances. Before Fordyce scored the opener, he had a chance to put the Eddies ahead inside the 20-minute mark.

A Lance Laing free kick hit Carolina keeper Akira Fitzgerald in the midsection; the rebound spilled to the middle of the area, where Fordyce had an open net. But a fantastic last-ditch sliding challenge from RailHawk and former Toronto FC defender Julius James disrupted what looked like a gimme.
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3

After “shocking” series of flights to Carolina, FC Edmonton succumbs to RailHawks

FCE's Massimo Mirabelli, with ball at his feet, tries to move it past Carolina's Breiner Ortiz.

FCE’s Massimo Mirabelli, with ball at his feet, tries to move it past Carolina’s Breiner Ortiz.

It might just have been the most one-sided one-goal game in the history of the modern NASL.

After a two-hour lightning and rain delay, the host Carolina RailHawks kicked off the fall season with a 1-0 victory over FC Edmonton. But, in truth, the game should have been a blowout by the halftime whistle. Had the Railhawks even converted on a quarter of the chances they’d created, they would have made this a no-contest.

Instead, the RailHawks needed a diving 80th-minute save from keeper Akira Fitzgerald, who denied Eddies’ striker Michael Cox after the ball fell to him in the box after a Neil Hlavaty free kick.

The Eddies didn’t get to Cary, N.C. till 3 a.m. Saturday after a series of delays.

“It was a catalogue of disasters, it was a shocking trip,” FCE coach Colin Miller said of the trip “Finally, the rain delay set it right up for us to have the kind of first half we did. But I don’t want to make excuses, we set high standards at this club.

“That wasn’t just the worst first half I’ve seen this team play, but the worst first half I’ve seen in my life. I can’t describe what I said to the team at the half.”
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3

Looking back at the NASL spring season: Did the experiment work?

Atlanta Silverbacks celebrate the NASL spring title.

Atlanta Silverbacks celebrate the NASL spring title.

The Atlanta Silverbacks now have the better part of four months to promote and sell tickets for the Soccer Bowl.

The Silverbacks — who, two weeks ago, looked unlikely to take the crown — wrapped up the title on American Independence Day. And that now allows us to take pause and evaluate the North American Soccer League’s first-ever spring season.

When the new format was announced, the reception from FC Edmonton’s fanbase was lukewarm at best. And, earlier this year, coach Colin Miller went on the record, stating he prefers a single season-and-playoff system. But he also made it clear that he didn’t speak for FC Edmonton’s organization as a whole.

In fact, even with 11 teams slated to start the season in 2014 (12 if you believe that a Calgary bid can still be expressed into NASL post-flood, 13 if Calgary is in and the Puerto Rico Islanders somehow miraculously rise from the ashes) and many more cities rumoured to be expansion-ready (including Winnipeg and a southern Ontario team), the split-season format doesn’t look to be going away any time soon. In fact, NASL commissioner Bill Peterson has repeatedly expressed that he and the owners continue to back the spring/fall season format — with the winner of the spring hosting the winner of the fall season in the Soccer Bowl — no matter how many teams the league has two or three years down the road.
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0

It could happen: A three-way tie at the top at the end of the NASL spring season

NASL_logo_previewFor the Carolina RailHawks, it wasn’t the result they wanted. For the NASL as a whole, the penultimate weekend of the spring season is going about as perfectly as it had hoped.

The RailHawks, including Canadian defender Paul Hamilton, knew that they’d clinch the NASL spring-season title with a week to spare if they beat Atlanta on Saturday. Instead, the RailHawks needed a last-gasp goal from Austin Da Luz to squeak out a 1-1 draw.

The RailHawks remain atop the table with the result. But, as of Saturday night, four of the league’s seven teams — Carolina, Atlanta, San Antonio and Minnesota — remain alive in the standings.

San Antonio thrashed Fort Lauderdale 4-1, allowing it to make up a good chunk of goal difference on Carolina. The Scorpions host the RailHawks next weekend.

And, this scenario is plausible. Let’s say Minnesota wins out — that is, it beats FC Edmonton at Clarke Stadium Sunday and then Atlanta next weekend. Then, Canadian Kevin Harmse and the Scorpions beat the RailHawks. Read the rest of this entry »

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0

Canada in the USOC: DeRo, Johnson advance; Hamilton sits as RailHawks go with reserves

Dwayne De Rosario

Dwayne De Rosario

Dwayne De Rosario scored a key game winner and Will Johnson played the full 90 as their MLS squads progressed into the U.S. Open Cup semifinals with victories on Wednesday night.

Johnson and DeRo were the marquee Canadians in the USOC quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Calgary’s Paul Hamilton didn’t get off the bench as his NASL side, the Carolina RailHawks, were eliminated in a 3-0 loss on the road to Real Salt Lake. Hamilton was one of eight RailHawks regular who didn’t start the game – as coach Colin Clarke decided to rest his core group of players ahead of Saturday’s possible NASL spring-season clincher against Atlanta.

Usually, in Cup play, it’s the MLS team that starts the depth players, while the lower-division team plays the big guns. But at Rio Tinto Stadium, it was the other way around — and frankly, the RailHawks did very little to trouble the home side. Read the rest of this entry »

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Two weeks left in the spring season: Looking at the race for the Soccer Bowl

NASL_logo_previewThere’s only a couple of weeks left in the NASL spring season. The winner of the spring session wins the right to host the Soccer Bowl in November.

And, four of the seven teams are still alive. Love or hate the new format, the result has been June games filled with playoff or Cup-tie atmospheres. Nowhere was this more evident than in Cary, N.C. on Saturday, as Canadian Paul Hamilton and the host RailHawks came from 2-0 down to beat Minnesota United FC 3-2, thanks to two last-gasp goals from Brian Shriver.

So, let’s look at how the final two weeks of the season can break down:
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5

Eddies eliminated from NASL spring-season race; Boakai makes pro debut at 16

Paul Hamilton, left, battles fellow Calgarian Michael Cox at Clarke Stadium. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS, FC EDMONTON

Paul Hamilton, left, battles fellow Calgarian Michael Cox at Clarke Stadium. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS, FC EDMONTON

The Carolina RailHawks really only had one outstanding scoring chance in Sunday’s match with FC Edmonton; but that was enough to eliminate the Eddies from the NASL spring-season race.

A 1-1 draw eliminated the Eddies from having any chance of finishing atop the NASL standings, with two games left to go in the spring season. And the draw kept the Atlanta Silverbacks in pole position, with the RailHawks a point back.

A late goal from Cesar Elizondo allowed the RailHawks to snatch the point — and the goal also saved Canadian central defender Paul Hamilton some blushes. Hamilton, the NASL Best XI defender who was cut by the Eddies earlier this year and was making his first return to Alberta, was victimized by FCE striker Michael Cox for the game’s opening goal.

“It was a lot harder to come back than I thought,” admitted Hamilton, who had 30 orange-clad family and friends at Clarke Stadium cheering him on. “There was a lot of emotion at the start of the game. I didn’t think I played very well.”
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