Published: Jan 04, 2012 10:14 AM
Modified: Jan 02, 2012 03:43 PM
One has played only a single season with the Carolina RailHawks, while the other has been on the team since its inaugural season.
While their length of service to Carolina differs greatly, the RailHawks were more than happy to announce the return of team captain Kupono Low and midfielder Nick Zimmerman in back-to-back weeks.
Low, the only player left from the 2007 team, will play his sixth year for the RailHawks. Last year, the defender earned a spot on the North American Soccer League's Best XI team.
Not only did Low score the franchise's first goal, he also ranks in the top 10 of the RailHawks' record book in six categories: 129 appearances (first), 123 starts (first), 11,145 minutes (first), 32 points (third), 10 assists (fourth), and 11 goals (sixth).
"Kupono has been a very important part of this organization on and off the field for the past five years and it was important to keep him in a RailHawks jersey," said RailHawks President Curt Johnson in a statement. "Kupono has proven to be a great veteran presence and has performed at an elite level on the field. We are glad to welcome him back for the 2012 season."
While Low's return bolsters the defense, Zimmerman's impact on resigning with the RailHawks is a boost to Carolina's vaunted offensive attack.
After joining the team as a former member of Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union, Zimmerman was the team's third-leading scorer in 2011.
He started 24 of his 28 matches, becoming one of five RailHawks to surpass 2,000 minutes played.
In a statement, Zimmerman said one of the reasons he wanted to resign with Carolina was a chance to win a title with new head coach Colin Clarke.
"The addition of Colin makes the future very exciting, and I can't wait to build on last year's performance as we set out to win the NASL Championship," said Zimmerman. "Carolina is a tremendous organization and the fans in Carolina are very knowledgeable soccer fans. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to play and continue to develop with the RailHawks."
Low and Zimmerman join defender Cory Miller and reserve goalkeeper Akria Fitzgerald as the four announced returning RailHawks.
Players Matt Watson, Allan Russell, Kithson Bain and Nick Thompson will not return to the RailHawks.
Only Watson - a NASL Best XI pick who joined coach Martin Rennie in Major League Soccer to play for Vancouver - had received significant playing time.