The Carolina RailHawks can capture the North American Soccer League Spring Season title this weekend and with it the right to host Soccer Bowl in November.
For all the complicated scenarios that teams have navigated the past few weeks to remain in contention to finish in top spot, this Saturday’s requirement is simple for Colin Clarke’s side. A home win at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC, (kickoff 7pm) will secure the championship.
“Matches like Saturday night are the type that you look forward to and players want to play in,” said Clarke. “We have worked hard all season to put ourselves in a position to clinch the Spring Season title and we have that opportunity on Saturday night. The fans have been huge in our success so far this season. I know they will be out in full force and I hope we can reward them.”
The RailHawks delighted a packed WakeMed Soccer Park with two late Brian Shriver goals to beat Minnesota United FC 3-2 last week and go hunting for three decisive points against an Atlanta Silverbacks side that slipped to a 2-1 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rowdies last week.
“We’re looking forward to the game and the good thing about it is that we’re only two points behind, so a win puts us right back above them,” said Silverbacks coach Brain Haynes. “As far as I’m concerned, all we’re concentrating on for this week is to go into their place and upset them. I think it’s possible for us to play our game there.”
An Atlanta win or a draw would also open the door for Minnesota United FC and the San Antonio Scorpions and set up a final day of the Spring Season on July 4 on which any one of four clubs could claim the title.
San Antonio heads to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday and Minnesota to FC Edmonton on Sunday, both knowing victory is imperative against teams eliminated from contention, coupled with the RailHawks buckling under the pressure.
“This is a must win game and we are going to treat it as such,” explained Scorpions coach Tim Hankinson. “There is still a chance for us to finish first, but we can only control what we do on the field, so we are aiming for three points on Saturday.”
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