The RailHawks are winless as they enter this Saturday’s home game against the first-year San Antonio Scorpions, and defensive problems continue to be a big reason why.
Carolina (0-1-3, W-L-T) has played well enough offensively to walk away with more than its three ties, but opponents have kept RailHawks goalkeeper Ray Burse busy on the other end of the field. Burse has faced 62 shots - 30 of them on goal - in just four games. His 21 saves are the most in the North American Soccer League.
In Carolina’s most recent game on Saturday, the Puerto Rico Islanders (3-0-1) were selective - taking just seven shots, but putting five on goal in a 3-1 win.
Last time at home: The RailHawks gave everything you could want in a game - eight goals, three red cards and an altercation that ended the game a few minutes early - except maybe a win. But the 3,673 who showed for the 4-4 draw against Atlanta on April 14 weren’t complaining.
Who’s hot: UNC-Chapel Hill product Brian Shriver has scored in three consecutive games, and the forward leads the RailHawks with three goals on the year. He had the only Carolina tally in the Puerto Rico loss.
Who’s not: Even just four games into the year, questions about the Carolina back line are starting to feel like beating a dead horse. But Carolina is allowing too much room for opposing teams to work - especialy inside the Carolina box.
In the first half of their most recent road trip, the RailHawks’ outside backs played better in a 1-1 tie at Tampa Bay, but it was hard to find a bright spot in the loss at Puerto Rico.
The good news for this much-maligned group is that San Antonio (0-1-2) hasn’t given too many back lines a test this year, only scoring twice in three games.
What to look for: WakeMed fans can welcome back Pablo Campos on Saturday. Campos’ 15 goals in 2011 were second only to Etienne Barbara (who had 20 last year) for the most in a single season. When playing to the home crowd at WakeMed, there was no telling what Campos was going to do in celebration. Now that he’s back, the same goes if he’s fortunate enough to score in his return.
Around the league: Fourteen games into the North American Soccer League schedule, four teams hold six combined wins while the other four are winless. The RailHawks and Scorpions each fit the latter category, although San Antonio has been outscored by four goals in three games while the RailHawks have only been outscored by two goals in four games.
Next games: After playing three of its first four games on the road, Carolina has two home games in a five-day span. The RailHawks are set to host the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (1-0-2) next Wednesday.