The news of Aaron Davidson’s indictment and arrest cast a pall over Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup game at WakeMed Soccer Park. Davidson, the president of Traffic Sports USA Inc., which owns the RailHawks, is accused by the U.S. Justice Department of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice, among other charges.
The North American Soccer League, where Davidson was the chariman and CEO, said it suspended Davidson and all business activities between the league and Traffic Sports, which left questions that team president Curt Johnson said couldn’t be answered until a later date.
Speaking before the RailHawks’ 1-0 loss to third-division Charlotte Independence, Johnson said he could not elaborate on the NASL’s definitions of “business activities” or “suspend.”
For fans like W. Jarrett Campbell, president and founder of the Triangle Soccer Fanatics, there’s a desire to know what’s next.
“I don’t know if (divestiture) is the only solution to the problem, but as a customer of the RailHawks and Traffic Sports, I think they owe us as fans and ticket buyers some sort of explanation of where we go from here,” Campbell said.
Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre said that the distraction of the day’s uncertainty was no excuse.
“It shouldn’t matter,” Sylvestre said. “We should all be ready, mentally, to go.”
“We have a great team. If we would have played to our potential we would’ve killed this team. I know that.”
Coach Colin Clarke said his team’s performance was unrelated to the news.
“It wasn’t a distraction. That didn’t even come into it,” Clarke said. “The boys were ready.”
If there is a silver lining, Campbell hopes it’s that this news will be a catalyst for local ownership down the road.
“I think there are some benefits of local ownership that we don’t enjoy by having remote ownership,” Campbell said.
The RailHawks fell on an 81st minute goal by Charlotte’s Ryan Finley, who received a long pass over the top of the defense and timed his run for a breakaway goal. It is the earliest exit – third round – by Carolina in the four years that Colin Clarke has been the head coach.
Charlotte will travel to the New England Revolution on June 18 in the fourth round. In the previous three years, the RailHawks had beaten at least one MLS team in the Open Cup.
“It’s hard because we’ve been successful and now we won’t get that opportunity to play against one of the big boys which we love to do,” Clarke said.
Brennan Doherty contributed to this report.