The Carolina RailHawks outlasted the Charleston Battery 2-1, behind two explosive first-half goals from Hamed Diallo. In a game that showed USL soccer to good advantage on national television, the Battery anwered with a goal in the 64th minute but couldn't equalize, despite a series of furious attacks.
While the ’Hawks accomplished what they had to do to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, tonight Atlanta managed to gain one of the three four points they need to clinch position themselves for the last playoff spot by battling first-place Puerto Rico to a 1-1 draw. This means that not only must the ’Hawks return to Cary Saturday and knock off the Portland Timbers, they must also root for Atlanta to lose to or tie last-place Miami. And, if that's not enough, Minnesota needs to do no better than a draw against Montreal tomorrow night.
So, three games to decide the final spot in the USL-1 playoffs. Even if the ’Hawks are still in it after tomorrow night's matches (Carolina against Portland and Minnesota versus Montreal), they'll still have to sweat it out through Sunday evening's Atlanta-Miami matchup.
On the bright side, the ’Hawks did win the Southern Derby—something achieved by getting the best of fellow Dixie squads Atlanta and Charleston over the course of the season. However, Charleston is headed to the playoffs, and Atlanta could, too, if they can knock off the lowly Miami side (and get help from Montreal).