Brian Shriver challenges during RailHawks 1-0 scrimmage win over UNC-Greensboro
  • Neil Morris
  • Brian Shriver challenges during RailHawks 1-0 scrimmage win over UNC-Greensboro

WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/CARY—The immaculate emerald turf of WakeMed Soccer Park was the perfect setting for a sunbathed St. Patrick’s Day scrimmage between the Carolina RailHawks and UNC-Greensboro Spartans. The RailHawks collected a 1-0 win, with an own goal off a botched Spartans clearance late in the first half accounting for the lone score. In truth, the greatest intrigue surrounding Field 3 was the conspicuous absence of green in the garb worn by RailHawks head coach and former Northern Ireland international Colin Clarke. Despite this apparent breach of tradition, however, no one dared pinch the burly gaffer.

Even without much offense, the game proved a feisty affair, a productive preseason tuneup full of physical play and colorful language to entertain the throng of fans gathered along the intimate field’s touchline. Notwithstanding a few forays by UNC-G into their attacking third, the RailHawks controlled pace and possession for most of the match.

As is usually the case in these sort of scrimmages, the most interesting aspect was observing the home side’s squad coming into clearer focus. Along with the players already announced and listed on the club’s website, a number of others enjoyed appreciable minutes today and appear slotted for the RailHawks’ few remaining roster spots. Defenders John Krause and Sam Stockley along with midfielder Santiago Fusilier are among those playing and still training with the club.

Meanwhile, several players who appeared in the March 4 friendly against the Vancouver Whitecaps were not present for today’s scrimmage nor in camp at this time, including former Tar Heel Jordan Graye, Andre McCreath and striker Kithson Bain.

Goalkeeper Ray Burse played the full 90 minutes today in his RailHawks debut, while Costa Rican defender James Scott looked on but did not appear, having arrived in camp yesterday. We also got our first look at 22-year-old Breiner Ortiz, an affable, wiry Colombian midfielder who showed flashes of technical skill, particularly ball control, but is still feeling his way through decision-making.

A few other news and notes from around the pitch:

— Chris Nurse, the lone roster player still not in camp due to international call-up, is expected to join RailHawks’ camp next week.

— Goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald was not present for today’s scrimmage. Fitzgerald is temporarily back with the Baltimore Blast and will return to the RailHawks after tomorrow’s NISL championship finals match against the Milwaukee Wave.

— Gale Agbossoumonde continues to make progress in his recovery from a turf toe condition, but he is still not ready to return to match practice.

— Last Thursday, RailHawks president Curt Johnson confirmed that Carolina is in discussions with the Vancouver Whitecaps to bring 18-year-old Omar Salgado on loan to the RailHawks. Salgado, a former Mexican and current U.S. youth international, was selected as the first overall pick in last year’s MLS SuperDraft. The teams are in the process of finalizing details of the arrangement.

The RailHawks next preseason scrimmage is against Duke University this Tuesday, March 20. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. on Field 3 at WakeMed Soccer Park, and admission is free and open to the public.