Carolina RailHawks’ Cup run is over

mblake@newsobserver.comJune 28, 2013 

Fans react to the goal scored by Carolina's Brian Shriver (21) in the second half. The Carolina Railhawks took on the Los Angeles Galaxy in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in Cary on May 29, 2013.

STEVEN WORTHY — newsobserver.com Buy Photo

The Carolina RailHawks were in a tough spot, and not just because they were on the road against one of the top teams in Major League Soccer in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

Real Salt Lake was taking the competition seriously – unlike the Los Angeles Galaxy, which didn’t even send their head coach to WakeMed Soccer Park two rounds prior – and using most of its regular starters.

The RailHawks had to juggle how many starters it should play with a Saturday contest awaiting that could decide the North American Soccer League’s spring season. The situation made for a tough three-games-in-eight-days stretch.

Only four regular starters suited up for the RailHawks on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City, and Carolina lost 3-0.

Reading the tea leaves after a June 22 NASL win, it was obvious the RailHawks would rather win the spring season than the U.S. Open Cup. It also sounded as if the team didn’t think it would be able to win at Salt Lake City, even with its first team.

Thus ends the ’Hawks best run in the U.S. Open Cup since the its inaugural season, when it reached the semifinals, in 2007.

International friendly set

The RailHawks end their NASL spring season July 4 in San Antonio, but that won’t be its last game of the month. Two-time Mexican Premier Division champion Puebla FC will play Carolina at WakeMed Soccer Park at 7:30 p.m. July 6.

Puebla is the second team from the Mexican Premier Division to visit the RailHawks this year, after a then-franchise-record crowd of 8,054 came to watch Pumas UNAM win 2-0 against the RailHawks.

President Curt Johnson has said it’s a RailHawks goal to host big games. Already this year, the RailHawks have hosted three MLS teams, one Mexican Premier team and one NASL game with a title on the line. “The Carolina RailHawks are committed to hosting additional high-level soccer matches,” Johnson said in a statement.

Tickets for the Puebla FC game range from $15-$50. Carolina will not have another league game until August.

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