Pablo Campos, during friendlier times

The last time Pablo Campos played at WakeMed Soccer Park was a mere six months ago. Then a member of the Carolina RailHawks, Campos hobbled through leg cramps on his way to a hat trick during Carolina’s shootout loss to the NSC Minnesota Stars in the NASL playoff semifinals. It was the bittersweet finale in a standout season for the Brazilian striker, who scored a team and league second-best 15 goals.

“I gave everything that I had,” Campos said after the match last October. “I’m far away from my family and here for soccer … My inspiration here tonight was that I love soccer. So, I gave it everything I could and did the things the coach asked. I gave it all.”

Tonight, Campos returns to Cary as a member of the expansion side San Antonio Scorpions in their first meeting with the RailHawks. Last week, Campos scored the first goal in Scorpions franchise history during their 2-2 draw with Fort Lauderdale.

However, all that is distant history as both Carolina and San Antonio come into tonight’s game hoping to snag their first victory in 2012 after disappointing starts to their respective seasons. The Scorpions have two draws and a loss over their opening three matches. They’ve scored only two goals while allowing six.

Meanwhile, the RailHawks return to Cary after earning just one point over their recent two-game road trip. Yesterday, Carolina announced the signing of striker and Cary native Zack Schilawski, a former Wake Forest standout released two months ago by the New England Revolution.

With forward Brian Ackley suspended by the league for tonight as well as Wednesday’s home match against Fort Lauderdale as a result of the fracas at the end of the April 14 game with the Atlanta Silverbacks, Schilawski—who has been training with the RailHawks for weeks—could see some early playing time for an offense that has already scored six goals in four games, tied for the second-most in the NASL.

Unfortunately, not Schilawski, Wayne Rooney or Lionel Messi can solve the RailHawks’ glaring problem. Carolina has allowed a league-worst eight goals along with an eye-popping 62 opponent shots. And no help yet appears on the horizon for the beleaguered back line. Gale Agbossoumonde finally returned to training this week after a prolonged injury recovery, but it unlikely he is fit enough for competitive play.

Notwithstanding the April 18 tie at Tampa after holding a second-half lead and the 3-1 shellacking at Puerto Rico last Saturday, the most cautionary result for Carolina was the 4-4 draw with Atlanta. The RailHawks held a 2-0 lead at home against a team they clearly outmatched before surrendering the lead going behind twice in the second half. Atlanta has only scored five goals in three games thus far, and four of them came during the Carrolina match.

In a league where six of eight teams qualify for the playoffs and the bottom seed has won the championship the last two seasons, it is hard to say the sixth game in a 28-match season is a much-win. Still, Carolina must begin to address their flaws and take advantage of an offense that, when not relying on impotent long balls, can be quite potent. Brian Shriver and Nick Zimmerman (last seen helping pelt soccer balls at the derrieres of local radio victims personalities) each have two goals on the season.

Kickoff for tonight’s match is 7 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park.