RailHawks 2014 Supporters Guide
The Carolina RailHawks are proud to present the Media & Supporters Guide for the 2014 Spring and Fall North American Soccer League (NASL) seasons. The RailHawks are the reigning Regular Season Champions of the NASL, earning the most points throughout the Spring and Fall Seasons in 2013. The team is also in the midst of a 16-game home unbeaten streak that they will work to extend in their home opener at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.
2014 Roster Highlights
The 2014 Carolina RailHawks will be led by third-year head coach Colin Clarke. In his first two years at the helm, Clarke has led the team to immense success including winning the regular season title and reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup in 2013. Under Clarke, the team plays a free flowing, attacking style of soccer that saw the RailHawks to a 16-game home unbeaten streak that’s yet to be broken.
Curt Johnson, President of the Carolina RailHawks, is a Raleigh native and grew up playing locally for CASL before playing for NC State. His local ties make him aptly suited to lead the RailHawks and under his leadership the club strives to make the RailHawks North Carolina’s soccer team by focusing on developing local talent and signing players with local ties. This year, the RailHawks have 8 players that fit that description including Enzo Martinez, Zack Schilawski, Akira Fitzgerald, and adding more.
Last year, Martinez, a former UNC Men’s Soccer standout, was on loan with the RailHawks from MLS club Real Salt Lake. Martinez assisted UNC to three straight NCAA College Cups and last year scored 3 goals for the RailHawks in just 15 appearances. Schilawski and Fitzgerald were members of the Wake Forest University Men’s Soccer Team which won the 2007 National Championship at the RailHawks’ home field, WakeMed Soccer Park, with Schilawski scoring a the final penalty in the shootout that gave Wake Forest the championship.
Additionally, this year the RailHawks have three longtime veterans returning: Nick Zimmerman, Kupono Low, and Tiyi Shipalane. Zimmerman was a mainstay in the 2012 RailHawks team leading scoring with 16 goals, but did not play in 2013 after suffering an injury. He returns to the field this season looking to make a big impact. Low returns for his eighth season. He is the only player to have played for the inaugural RailHawks team in 2007 and has earned the distinction “Mr. RailHawk” from the fans having made 193 appearances. Shipalane is considered by many to be the most exciting player in American soccer and has been with the RailHawks since 2010. Shipalane became a fan favorite in 2012 by scoring once and assisting a second goal that allowed the RailHawks to defeat the defending MLS Champion LA Galaxy in 2012. His speed and attacking mindset add excitement to all of the games he is a part of.
Finally, Jun Marques Davidson, a former RailHawk, returns to the team following two years with the Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS. During his time in the MLS, Marques Davidson was one of the most accurate passers in the league completing over 85% of passes. Previously he also has over 100 appearances in the J-League, Japan’s premier division of professional soccer.
The NASL Season is broken into two distinct seasons. The first begins in April and runs through early June with the second beginning in July. The break between seasons this year coincides with the 2014 World Cup taking place in Brazil. Players from across the world will be called to represent their country in the month long tournament resulting in a pause in domestic league play.
This year, the postseason format has been adjusted to include four teams. First, the team with the most points during each of the two seasons will advance to “The Championship.” Points are awarded to teams based on game results with a win earning three points, a draw earning one point and a loss earning zero points. The two teams who win each season will be joined in the Championship by the two teams with the best remaining overall record across both seasons for a playoff taking place in November.
Additionally, throughout the season the RailHawks will participate in the U.S. Open Cup, a knockout tournament that allows local amateur teams all the way through Major League Soccer teams to participate. Last year, the RailHawks defeated the then-reigning MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy as well as MLS club Chivas USA to earn a berth to the quarterfinals in Salt Lake City where they eventually fell to the 2013 MLS Cup Finalist Real Salt Lake. The tournament kicks off later this year with the opportunity for the RailHawks to host more high profile competition in June.
The Supporters’ Matchday Experience
The Carolina RailHawks matchday experience is tailored for all fans of the game. This year, fans will experience new upgrades to WakeMed Soccer Park, in addition to those installed last year, including a high resolution video board on the south end of the stadium to make sure fans never miss any of the action.
The RailHawks will bring back several festivals throughout the year including the Sixth Annual Taste of the Triangle, Soktoberfest Home Brew Contest, a Pig Pickin’, Latin Fest, and others. In addition to those pre-game festivals that RailHawks have become known for, the RailHawks will host the RailHawks Pre-Game Party Series that includes live music provided by Durham’s own ReverbNation.com, which provides over 3.45 million music professionals with the tools to promote their music. The RailHawks Pre-Game Party Series will include local musicians showcasing their talents in Lot C located near the stadium. The concert will offer fans a centralized tailgate location to enjoy live music and camaraderie before enjoying the match.
Seating options at WakeMed Soccer Park are also personalized for fans of all ages and interests. The Depot (Sections 309 – 310) offers the RailHawks most enthusiastic fans the opportunity to display their passion. The Depot is led and organized by the Triangle Soccer Fanatics (TSF), a group of passionate, local soccer fans who bring the soccer supporters culture, which is growing across the nation, to WakeMed Soccer Park. This year, the Depot will be joined by the 12th Man (Sections 307 – 308) for fans that would like to be near the excitement of the Depot. All four sections are adult recommended sections.
In addition to the Depot, WakeMed Soccer Park offers a variety of suites, party decks and the exclusive Coke Party Box for corporate sponsors or large parties. Families can also find affordable ticket packages like the Fan Four Pack which includes four tickets, four meals and four drinks for just $49.
2014 World Cup
This summer, soccer supporters’ attention will turn toward Brazil as 32 nations vie to be named the best. The month-long tournament kicks off on June 12 with the final match on July 13. The United States Men’s National Team has earned a spot in the competition playing matches against Ghana, Portugal, and Germany during the group stage in an attempt to reach the knockout stages. During that time, all U.S. domestic leagues will be coming together to support the U.S. Men’s National Team.
As fans turn their eyes to Brazil, locally the RailHawks will be hosting watch parties and offering a unique expertise on the sport and the tournament. RailHawks Head Coach Colin Clarke offers a firsthand perspective of the tournament having participated for his native Northern Ireland in the 1986 competition – even scoring a goal.
For more information about the Carolina RailHawks, the 2014 Season, and other events, please visit www.CarolinaRailHawks.com. To purchase tickets for this season, visit www.carolinarailhawks.com/tickets.