The Carolina RailHawks U-23’s, led by head coach Dewan Bader, have joined the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and will begin league play in 2014.
Bader, who also serves as Assistant Coach for the Carolina RailHawks NASL professional team and Director of Coaching for Triangle Futbol Club, guided the RailHawks U-23’s to three consecutive Region III titles (2011-2013) and two National Championships (2011, 2013) while competing in the USASA U-23 Men’s Cup. The U-23 program focuses on developing collegiate level players into future professionals and will continue to be comprised of college players from the top North Carolina universities and programs. The move to the NPSL will allow the U-23’s the opportunity to qualify for a spot in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
“Joining the NPSL is a great opportunity for the RailHawks U-23’s and the local soccer community,” said Bader. “The league gives our organization the opportunity to continue offering amateur players a professional environment to train and play from May to August. We would like to thank the NPSL and our partners that enable us to make this move.”
The Carolina RailHawks have strategically created a club structure with their Capital Area RailHawks Academy and ECNL partnership, RailHawks U-23’s, and the RailHawks professional team. This structure provides a more direct platform and pathway for the best young players in NC and beyond to achieve their goal of playing professional soccer.
“This is a great move for our entire organization,” said RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke. “Being able to expose young, local talent to our professional training and playing environment is a key piece in the development of those players. It allows us to get to know the players and them to know us. It’s a great advantage in recruiting and retaining top talent for our professional team.”
The development of future professionals will continue to be a key element of the U-23 program. Bader and staff have been integral in the development of over 25 former U-23’s that have gone on to play professional soccer in the United States and abroad. Ten of those professional players have earned roster spots with the RailHawks professional team. In 2013, 9 former U-23’s were on the RailHawks roster amassing 11,126 minutes, out of a possible 25,740 minutes, and earned 157 appearances.
"The NPSL and our members are excited to welcome the Carolina RailHawks of the North American Soccer League to the NPSL, said NPSL Commissioner, Michael Hitchcock. “The RailHawks are one of the great professional soccer organizations in the U.S., one with strong leadership and ownership. We're happy that the RailHawks have joined other professional clubs who see the value in playing in the NPSL as a great tool to developing players for their NASL team."
The NPSL is a national league that operates in the 4th Division of the U.S. Soccer pyramid. NPSL teams are eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup through their affiliation with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). The NPSL is the fastest-growing national soccer league in the U.S., operating in 70+ markets across the country. The RailHawks will become the 4th professional side to operate a team in the NPSL, joining the Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL, New York Red Bulls (MLS) and D.C. United (MLS) .