When: Sat., April 9, 7 p.m. 2011
When we last saw the Carolina RailHawks, the Puerto Rico Islanders defeated them to win the USSF D-2 soccer championship. This Saturday, the RailHawks open their 2011 campaign at WakeMed Soccer Park with a rematch against those same Islanders.
Much has happened in the intervening five months. Notwithstanding an ignominious detour on eBay, the team's name remains the same, along with the coaching staff and facilities. However, the RailHawks have a new owner, a new league and a revamped roster that returns only two players from last year's opening-day starting lineup. Off-season drama will finally—and thankfully—be supplanted by game play as head coach Martin Rennies begins his third season at the helm. A host of talented new faces confront the challenge of jelling quickly enough to challenge the Islanders, future MLS member Montreal Impact and others for the NASL crown. —Neil Morris