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Carolina’s coaching decisions will influence Montreal Impact’s fate

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The Carolina RailHawks clinched top spot in the NASL earlier this week, but the team will have a significant impact on who gets the final playoff slot. The RailHawks travel to Montreal this Sunday to face the Impact; in two weeks time, Carolina wraps up the schedule at home to the NSC Minnesota Stars. The Impact trails the Stars by three points for the final playoff spot. But this is the thing; so far this season, the RailHawks have embraced the philosophy that they want to win every game they play. But now that the club has clinched the top playoff seed, will coach Martin Rennie contine to put out a full-strength lineup as the RailHawks play out the string? And even if he does, will the intensity be the same? The RailHawks don’t have anything to play for down the stretch. If there are any players with minor or nagging injuries, Rennie has the luxury of being able to sit them down. Now, it’s not like Carolina has to worry about the playoffs right away. The season still has three weekends left. And then, Carolina will have a bye week as seeds three through six will contest the first round of the playoffs. So, even when the club faces Minnesota on the last weekend of the season, Rennie knows the club will be looking at a two-week layoff after that match. Basically, if Rennie started resting players now, he could potentially have them sit down for more than a month. And coaches do need to keep players active and in form, too. But, if either the Impact or the Stars are able to snatch points from Carolina, that result could mean the difference between packing up the dressing room after the regular season or a trip to the playoffs. And Rennie’s decision on how to staff his squad as it plays out the string will have a mighty influence on who finishes No. 6.

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