A few bumps in the road were expected with the RailHawks this early in the season, but expectations were still high.
There were several new players and a new coach, but many of those players were proven commodities and coach Colin Clarke is inarguably the top coach in the second division.
A month into the year, nobody would’ve expected Carolina (0-2-4, W-L-T) to be heading into Sunday’s game at last-place FC Edmonton (0-3-1) looking for its win No. 1 on the season.
But a disappointing 3-3 home draw with the visiting Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Wednesday has the RailHawks still searching.
Who’s hot: Nick Zimmerman has four goals after his two in Wednesday’s tie. Brian Shriver added one as well and now has three goals.
Both are piecing together nice seasons.
Who’s not: The back line is still not there.
In three home games, the RailHawks have now played to a 4-4 tie and a 3-3 tie. Three goals should be enough to win, but the fact hey haven’t been - twice, and at home - is a discouraging trend.
There were a few changes to the back line prior to the Ft. Lauderdale match, with right back Sam Stockley moving to center back and midfielder Cory Elenio playing right back. But both were brought on due to injuries as starting center back Austen King and right back Greg Shields were out with injury.
What to look for: Cary High graduate Zack Schilawski made is Carolina debut Wednesday, playing 84 minutes in the starting role. Problems abound in the back line, but how the young forward fits into the plans on top of the formation will be something to track going forward.
Around the league: The Puerto Rico Islanders (3-1-1) are still atop the North American Soccer League and appear to be the class of the league with a whopping six goal differential though five games.
Maybe the most important news around the league this week was the U.S. Open Cup draws being announced. The RailHawks - who like the rest of the NASL were not allowed to compete in the Cup last year - will host a second-round match on May 22. The opponent will be either the Portland Timbers U23’s or one of several still-qualifying adult amateur leagues.
Next games: After its match against Edmonton, the RailHawks will play at Minnesota on May 12. That game will be Carolina’s fifth road game through eight league contests.