The Carolina RailHawks’ push to secure a big name for a home friendly match this summer nearly brought in an English Premier League team.
The RailHawks and Sunderland were deep into discussions, Carolina president Curt Johnson said, before Sunderland thought it better to try and play two friendlies while in Toronto.
Sunderland, which has Jermain Defoe among others, finished 16th in the EPL table this year.
Johnson said the team is still working to give fans a big home match in lieu of the team’s exit from the U.S. Open Cup.
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The RailHawks were upset 1-0 by the third-division Charlotte Independence in the third round of the Cup, which in previous years has produced big home matches against MLS teams like the Los Angeles Galaxy. Carolina, as a second-division team, had byes for the first two rounds.
As it stands, the team has no scheduled games until July 4, the start of the North American Soccer League’s fall season.
Carolina finished the spring season last week and sits in third place in the NASL. The other 10 NASL teams finish out the spring season this Saturday.